The iconic French brand

Hermès: What would you do with $6 billion?

Updated: June 2024

Hermès. You know the brand name. The name that evokes images of rich women walking around with fancy purses. Purses that cost more than a yearly salary.

The makings of an iconic French brand

Who is Nicolas Puech?

What is the Isocrates Foundation?

The French brand that is a household name

The iconic French brand is definitely a luxury brand that only a few can afford. Founded in Paris in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, the brand began as a harness workshop catering to European noblemen. It was once known for creating well-tailored saddles, riding gear, and leather accessories. These were all items only the rich could once afford.

The tradition of catering to the rich carries into 2023; Hermès caters to women who can afford to live in the lap of luxury. Prices for their bags can range from a mere $6,000 to a whopping $31,000 (and higher.) It’s known as being the brand for creating the iconic Kelly Bag and Birkin Bag. Hermès is also a brand known for creating fancy scarves and perfume.

Who is Nicolas Puech?

It should be no surprise then, that Nicolas Puech, a descendant of Hermès, has (an approximately) WHOPPING $12 billion dollars in his name.

Puech purportedly owns a 5.7% stake in Hermès. There was an explosion of interest in the brand’s products after the pandemic (people wanted to spend again): the demand for products increased the value of the brand to nearly $230.8 billion. This means that Puech’s stake own stake in the company is worth around $12 billion dollars.

The 80 year-old was initially going to give the massive fortune to the Isocrates Foundation, a foundation that he created in 2011.

What is the Isocrates Foundation?

The Isocrates Foundation was founded by Puech himself in 2011. Instead of donating to traditional charities, such as the Red Cross, the Foundation supports investigative journalism. The website states that the foundation “supports public interest journalism and media organizations committed to strengthening the field of investigative journalism and the production of independent quality information.” You would think that Nicolas would be eager to donate money to his own foundation, right?

Who is Puech’s legal heir?

Instead, Puech is making his gardener his legal heir through the process of adoption. Naturally, the foundation isn’t too happy with the breach of contract: “From a legal point of view, a unilateral cancellation of the contract of inheritance seems void and unfounded,” the company stated in a statement to press. You would think that it would be VERY easy for Puech to easily void a contract, especially if it’s a contract for his OWN foundation. However, with the gardener now being a legally adopted heir, it is likely that the inheritance for the Foundation will be cut in half, rather than being entirely removed from inheriting anything. If this is true, then there is likelihood that the Foundation will receive 50%, not 100% of Puech’s fortune. The Foundation will most likely be getting $6 billion, not the entire $12 billion. No word on whether or not Puech can be sued for breach of contract. We can only speculate on Puech’s change of heart: why did he decide to make his gardener his legal heir, instead of giving everything to the foundation?

As for the company itself, it’s interesting to note that amid the decline of luxury brand sales (people trying to keep more money in their pockets), that Hermès is doing just fine: in fact, they reported a jump in sales earlier this year.

So, we’ll leave you to wonder about what you would do if you were lucky enough to be adopted by one of the richest men in the world.