• France edition
 

Guerlain guilty of racism

Published: 29 Mar 2012 14:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Mar 2012 14:46 GMT+02:00

A Paris court on Thursday found Jean-Paul Guerlain, the former "nose" behind the world-famous perfume brand, guilty of racial insults after televised remarks he made about "negroes" and fined him.

Asked in a 2010 interview about how he created the Samsara scent, Guerlain replied: "For once, I set to work like a negro. I don't know if negroes have always worked like that, but anyway."

The court judged that the second part of his reply was racist and fined him €6,000 ($8,000). The maximum it could have imposed was six months in prison and a €22,500 fine.

Guerlain was also ordered to pay €2,000 euros in damages to each of three anti-racist groups that were civil plaintiffs in the case.

The 75-year-old heir to one of the world's oldest perfume houses was not in court for the verdict of the trial that began last month. His lawyer said he did not know if he would appeal.

Guerlain used the word "negre", which is also commonly used in France in its other meaning signifying "ghost writer".

The 2010 incident sparked widespread condemnation, with anti-racism groups saying it highlighted deep prejudice in French society.

Earlier this month French police said they were probing additional accusations that Guerlain made an anti-immigrant rant against Eurostar workers.

Three employees of the high-speed rail firm that links Paris and London made a complaint to police accusing Guerlain of making remarks of a racist nature as they helped the wheelchair-bound pensioner board a train.

Guerlain missed the train from Paris Gare du Nord station and then allegedly launched into a tirade against the three, two of whom were black and the third of Asian origin. 

Guerlain apologised for his televised remarks in 2010 but protests erupted outside the company's Paris boutique on the Champs Elysees and there were calls for a boycott of Guerlain and its owner, luxury brand giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH).

The Guerlain company distanced itself from the remarks, saying his words were "unacceptable" and noting that Guerlain had not been a shareholder in the company since 1996 or on salary since 2002.

Guerlain took over the family perfume house from his grandfather, Jacques, in 1959, by which time he could reportedly recognise 3,000 subtly different smells.

The perfume house was run by the Guerlain family for five generations and created over 300 fragrances since doctor and chemist Pierre Francois Pascal Guerlain opened his first perfume boutique in Paris 183 years ago.

LVMH purchased the company in 1994 and Guerlain remained as master perfumer until he retired in 2002.

During his time at the company he was hailed as one of the great perfume "noses" of the 20th century and created famous scents including Samsara, Nahema and Jardins de Bagatelle.

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Syrian refugees set up home in Paris park
Syrian refugees children and women sit on April 21, 2014 in the Edouard Vaillant parc in Saint-Ouen, north of Paris. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Syrian refugees set up home in Paris park

Around 150 Syria refugees are living a desperate existence in a small park to the north of Paris. NGOs and France's Green party are urging authorities to do more to help the families while they wait for their asylum requests to be processed. READ () »

French foot licker jailed for attack on elderly lady
A French fetishist got 18 months behind bars for a foot licking attack on an elderly woman. Photo: Twon/Flickr

French foot licker jailed for attack on elderly lady

A French fetishist was so smitten with an elderly lady’s feet he burst into the terrified woman's home and lunged at her trotters, which he then proceeded to sniff, lick and rub. The lewd act cost him 18 months behind bars. READ () »

Wolves continue their advance on Paris
Wolves are getting closer to Paris, but they won't be biting Parisians anytime soon. Hopefully. Photo ErranAT/flickr

Wolves continue their advance on Paris

The contentious issue of wolves in France was once again in the spotlight this week after one of the predators was captured on camera for the first time within 250 km of Paris. An expert says they will come even closer but thankfully "they won't be biting Parisians". READ () »

France unveils raft of reforms to boost jobs
France says its economy will grow despite billions of euros in planned budget cuts. Photo: Euros.

France unveils raft of reforms to boost jobs

France laid out a new package of reforms on Wednesday to respect EU rules, cut spending, boost jobs and put its economy in shape to compete on world markets. READ () »

North Koreans snubbed by French cheese college
Kim Jong-un's bid to send two North Koreans to learn how to make French cheese has been refused by a prestigious French college. Photos: Zennie62/Amandabhslater/Flickr

North Koreans snubbed by French cheese college

A bid by North Korea to send experts to a prestigious French cheese-making training school, seemingly at the behest of its fromage-loving leader King Jong-un, has been rejected. It did not fit with the institution's "priorities or strategy", it seems. READ () »

Paris launches new battle against French jihadists
Will a new French plan to stop the flow of jihadists to Syria have the desired effect? Photo: AFP

Paris launches new battle against French jihadists

France’s so-called top cop unveiled a dozen proposals on Wednesday aimed at stemming the flow of its residents toward the jihadist cause in Syria. Though some experts see the plan as a cynical political move ahead of European elections. READ () »

Getting married in France
How to avoid any French wedding nightmares
How to avoid any French wedding nightmares. Photo: Shutterstock

How to avoid any French wedding nightmares

France is a popular choice for foreign couples tying the knot including a fair few celebrities – but beware the pitfalls. Here, The Local speaks to a France-based wedding planner and a bride-to-be about how to have a hassle-free French wedding. READ () »

France vows to punish death of Mali hostage
French citizen Gilberto Rodriguez Leal sitting between two armed guards in an undisclosed place. A jihadist group in Mali on April 22, 2014 announced the death of the French hostage. Photo: AFP

France vows to punish death of Mali hostage

French President François Hollande has vowed to find out the truth behind the death of a French hostage in Mali and promised "it will not go unpunished". It comes after a jihadist group announced on Wednesday the death of Frenchman Gilberto Rodrigues Leal. READ () »

British duke takes €20m hit on Paris markets
A man walks on August 4, 2013 in the Clignancourt flea market in Saint-Ouen, outside Paris, that has cost the UK's Duke of Westminster a cool €20 million. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

British duke takes €20m hit on Paris markets

Britain's Duke of Westminster has bailed out of an investment in two famous Paris antiques markets nursing a reported loss of over €20 million, it emerged on Tuesday. READ () »

French writer's inequality book tops Amazon list
Thomas Piketty, whose book tops Amazon's best sellers list and appears to be liked by the White House. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

French writer's inequality book tops Amazon list

A book by a French economist praised by some as being one of the most important works in recent times and derided by others as a neo-marxist 'bizarre ideological creed' has shot to the top of Amazon's best sellers list. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
How to avoid a French wedding nightmare
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why sacked French ministers deserve no pity
Gallery
How well do you know your French text message lingo?
National
Divorced from reality? French plan for puppy custody laws
Travel
'Burgundy is for wine not wind': Will wind farms ruin famous wine region?
National
Why does France have a record number of people behind bars?
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
Advertisement:
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se