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Will Lagerfeld's pet feline Choupette inherit his millions?
KARL LAGERFELD'S cat Choupette was already the most famous cat in fashion. Now the white fluffy Burmese cat that the late fashion designer doted on could be about to become the richest feline on the planet.
The pampered eight-year-old puss has enjoyed a jetset lifestyle eating off silver platters since Lagerfeld "kidnapped" her in 2011 from his young friend, male model Baptiste Giabiconi.
Now she could be about to inherit a slice of his estimated US$200 million fortune.
Long before his death on Tuesday, Lagerfeld said he had made sure that Choupette would go on living in the style that she had become accustomed to, with her own personal bodyguard and two maids.
"Choupette is a rich girl," he once told French television, hinting that he had written her into his will.
"She has her own fortune," added the designer dubbed the "Kaiser". The kitty stash is believed to be valued at least 3 million euros (S$4.6 million) which she earned with him doing advertisements for a German car firm and a Japanese cosmetics brand.
"If anything happens, the person who looks after her will not go without," Lagerfeld had said. He designed for Chanel, Fendi and his own brand right up to his death at age 85. Choupette - who the designer compared to the enigmatic star Greta Garbo - is something of a cult figure in the fashion world, with more than 170,000 followers on social media.
She is also the heroine of a book, Choupette: The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat, where she was photographed in the arms of supermodel Linda Evangelista and snuggling with model-turned-actress Laetitia Casta.
Unlike them, the spoiled feline has never had to watch what she eats. The book includes recipes for her favourite meals prepared by some of the best restaurants in Paris.
One typically lavish repast is a mix of king crab, smoked salmon and caviar. And unlike ordinary cats, Choupette eats at a table. "She is like a human being, only with an extra quality - silence," Lagerfeld once quipped.
Despite her reputation as a gastronome, the designer forbade her from doing ads for cat food. "She is too sophisticated for that," said the legendary wit, who lived alone and admitted that "Choupette is the centre of my world".
"She has something unforgettable in the way she moves - I'm inspired by her elegance and her attitude," he said.
Lagerfeld - an incorrigible collector of art and fine furniture - also famously showered his friends with gifts and money.
Choupette's big rival for the Lagerfeld millions is likely to be his godson Hudson Kroenig, who the designer utterly adored, seeing something of himself in the blond 10-year-old son of his muse, US model Brad Kroenig.
"I consider them like my family," Lagerfeld said of the Kroenigs, using Hudson and his brother Jameson in many of his spectacular Chanel shows at the Grand Palais in Paris.
He often appeared at the end to acknowledge the applause holding Hudson's hand.
Yet Lagerfeld thought so highly of Choupette that if she had died before him, he wanted to have her ashes scattered with his own and his mother's.
Under French law, Lagerfeld cannot leave his millions to a cat. "That's okay," he told reporters who once questioned him on the subject. "Because I am not French", hinting that the money could be left in trust.
Even so, Choupette - who has not tweeted since Lagerfeld's death - was sometimes used to deliver stinging swipes at her master. French actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot wrote her a letter in 2015 asking her to "purr in the ear" of her owner so he would "stop using fur in his collections". AFP