• France's news in English
 

Franco-Swiss feud splits Chinese painter's family

Published: 21 Nov 2012 11:54 GMT+01:00

At the heart of a battle ripping the family apart lies the contested ownership of eight works worth millions of dollars.

The son, Jia-Ling Zhao, believes that Zao, who is 91 and has suffered from Alzheimer's disease since at least 2005, was moved to Switzerland in 2011 against his will.

The Beijing-born artist left China for Paris before the Communist Party took over the country and has been a French citizen since 1964.

"Zao had been in France since 1948, he is very attached to the country and never expressed any desire to leave it," said his son's lawyer, Jean-Philippe Hugot.

His wife, Francoise Marquet, a former curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris now based in the Lake Geneva region, stands to inherit a greater part of the artist's estate than she would have done had they stayed in France.

She asserts that Switzerland offers the best environment for his health and for preserving his assets, both financial and artistic.

Marquet has created a foundation in Switzerland to promote her husband's work, prompting protests from the son that both he and his father are now excluded from the management of his collection.

"Zao Wou-Ki is doing well, the move to Switzerland has been beneficial for him," Pierre Genon-Catalot, the lawyer for Marquet insisted.

"He is much better physically."

Zao's son, however, is not convinced and he has pursued legal action on two fronts.

A request to a Paris court for him to be granted power of attorney over his father's affairs was rejected after the judge ruled that he could not rule on the decision since Zao was now resident in Switzerland.

The son is appealing that ruling and a decision is due on December 4th.

In parallel with that request, Jia-Ling Zhao has since May been pursuing his mother-in-law for allegedly abusing a person weakened by illness and has secured the opening of a preliminary investigation by the French authorities.

Marquet, meanwhile, has, through the Swiss courts, secured joint power of attorney over her husband and his estate along with a Swiss national, Marc Bonnant.

That decision, which has enabled Marquet to sell some of her husband's works, is being challenged by the son, who is seeking to be legally recognised as jointly responsible for his father.

He also accuses his mother-in-law of having moved eight paintings that have belonged to him since Zao divorced his mother in 1958.

Marquet's lawyer, Genon-Catalot, dismissed that suggestion.

"He has made that claim knowing that Zao can no longer respond to him."
   
He added that the artist had always lived by selling his works and that the most recent sales had been authorized by a Swiss judge.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Gay support for National Front on the rise
Gay rights leader Sebastien Chenu with Marine Le Pen. Photo: AFP

Gay support for National Front on the rise

A recent survey shows gay support for the National Front is rising. Some gays say the far-right party is more open to minorities than France’s mainstream parties, despite a history of homophobia. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Co-pilot 'hid sick leave note' for day of crash
Details about the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz began emerging on Friday, including the fact he had been signed off sick for the day of the crash.

Co-pilot 'hid sick leave note' for day of crash

German prosecutors revealed on Friday that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who is believed to have deliberately crashed the Germanwings plane in the Alps, had a sick leave note from his doctor for the day of the crash, but hid his illness from his employers. READ  

IN PICTURES
Harrowing search at Alps plane crash site goes on
The search continues in the French Alps. Photo: French Interior Ministry/Twitter

Harrowing search at Alps plane crash site goes on

UPDATED: French authorities are yet to find any intact bodies as they continue the painstaking search for victim body parts among the wreckage of the Germanwings plane that crashed in the Alps. Investigators are also hunting for the second black box. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Brother of Alps crash victim: 'I am in a rage'
Claude Driessens, who lost his brother Christian in the plane crash. Photo: BFMTV

Brother of Alps crash victim: 'I am in a rage'

Friends and family members of the victims of the Germanwings plane crash have been left horrified and angry after the revelations that the co-pilot deliberately downed the plane and that he had been signed off sick for the day of the crash. The Local speaks to one man who lost his brother. READ  

What's on in France: Ten things to do in April
Runners at the annual Paris marathon. Photo: AFP

What's on in France: Ten things to do in April

Spring has finally arrived, and it promises a series of fun activities from the Paris marathons to epic Easter egg hunts. Here are ten events in April definitely worth checking out. READ  

Consumer confidence in France hits five-year high
Consumer spending is on the rise in France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Consumer confidence in France hits five-year high

French consumer confidence has hit a five-year high, the Insee statistics agency said on Friday, signalling that households feel more optimistic about the country's growth. READ  

Paris: Iron Lady to dim lights for Earth Hour
The Eiffel Tower will momentarily lose its sparkle to mark Earth Hour. Eiffel Tower photo: Shutterstock

Paris: Iron Lady to dim lights for Earth Hour

It may be known as the City of Light but on Saturday evening even Paris and its most famous monument the Eiffel Tower will go dark to mark Earth Hour. Parisians will then have to dance for the Iron Lady to be restored to its glittering glory. READ  

Islamophobia in France
Pregnant Muslim woman attacked in France
Muslim women protest about France's decision to ban the veil. Photo: AFP

Pregnant Muslim woman attacked in France

A headscarf-wearing Muslim woman in her final month of pregnancy was violently assaulted in southern France this week, in what has been labelled an Islamophobic attack. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
IN PICTURES: Grieving relatives visit crash site
Rescuers hold American, Spanish, German and British flags infront of the relatives of the victims of the plane crash on Thursday. Photo: AFP

IN PICTURES: Grieving relatives visit crash site

Dozens of grieving family members have gathered in the small village in the French Alps near to where the Germanwings plane crashed into the mountainside killing all 150 people on board. A remembrance ceremony was held on Thursday. READ  

Marion Cotillard to take Joan of Arc to New York
French actress Marion Cotillard performs in Joan of Arc. Photo: AFP

Marion Cotillard to take Joan of Arc to New York

French actress Marion Cotillard will play Joan of Arc with the New York Philharmonic in a production of Arthur Honegger's oratorio, the orchestra announced on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
What's on in France: Ten things to do in April
National
Images released of the harrowing search at Alps plane crash site
IN PICTURES: Grieving relatives visit plane crash site in Alps
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
National
Paris: France mulls lifting ban on casinos
Damaged black box could hold key to Alps plane crash probe
Does low cost mean low safety? Questions after Germanwings crash
Gallery
IN PICTURES: A timeline of the Alps plane crash
National
So what might have caused the plane crash in the French Alps?
National
Videos emerge of Alps crash site wreckage
National
What we know so far about the plane crash in the French Alps
National
Where in La Belle France do British expats avoid?
National
IN PICTURES: 'Tide of the century' draws tens of thousands
National
Paris ends smog-fighting restrictions as the air finally clears
National
The main mistakes made by French property buyers
National
International French Language day: But what does the future hold?
National
IN PICTURES: What went on behind the clouds during Friday's eclipse
National
French food porn: What is the Gallic grub that goes viral the most?
Culture
France treated to rare Northern Lights show
Politics
Shady candidates undermine French far-right's election bid once again
Politics
French minister takes a swipe at overuse of Franglais in workplace
French gastronomy set for global charm offensive
French newspaper stuns readers with porn film pics on front page
Sport
The reasons why Zlatan Ibrahimovic might really think France is s**t
National
France could soon ban skinny models from catwalks
Health
Is France's much-envied health care system under threat?
National
There are jobs in France where you don't need to speak French
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Education
Paris universities on the up in new rankings
Sport
We meet one of the most entertaining footballers in France
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Features
Forget Paris. Is Bordeaux the best place to live in France?
Travel
Runaway plane mows down skier on the slopes of French Alps
Society
Friday 13th: A look at France's superstitions
Culture
France is ready to end its stubborn resistance to the English language
Features
'Hedgehog' and other words that French people simply can't say
Society
The worst 'nightmares' of living in France (written by a Frenchman)
Health
French hospitals crisis: 'It's like the UK under Margaret Thatcher'
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in France
VIDEO: Footage emerges of the moment two helicopters collided
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Helicopter crash kills 10, including French sports stars
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in March
New French rail strike: RER B and regional trains to be worst hit
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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