• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Franco-Swiss feud splits Chinese painter's family

AFP · 21 Nov 2012, 11:54

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.

Story continues below…

"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
French PM suggests naked breasts represent France
A statue of Marianne at the Place de la Republique in Paris, with her left breast on show. Photo: AFP

Just as the burqini ban furore was dying down French PM Manuel Valls has stirred things up again for suggesting naked breasts were a stronger symbol of the Republic than a Muslim headscarf.

Macron quits government before likely bid for Elysée
President Hollande, left, and Emmanuel Macron. Photo: AFP

France's rebel Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron stepped down on Tuesday as he looks set to concentrate on replacing his boss as president of France.

What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
Competitors in the colourful Marathon du Medoc. Photo: AFP

Summer's not over just yet.

French police officer stabbed by knifeman in Toulouse
Photo: AFP

Attacker, believed to have mental health problems, targeted police officer "because he represented France", unconfirmed reports say.

French parents told to cover naked 18-month old at beach
People enjoying the sun at the Villeneuve-de-la-Raho lake near Perpignan. File photo: AFP

An 18-month-old boy cannot bathe naked, at least according to authorities in southern France.

Every fact you need to know about France's 'départements'
Photo: AFP

So what's the most populated "département" if it's not Paris? Find the answer, as well as every other need to know fact about France's 101 departments.

Brexit: You've got till 2019 Hollande warns UK
Photo: AFP

For the sake of everyone the divorce needs to happen as soon as possible, says Hollande.

UN says French burqini bans 'humiliating and degrading'
Photo: AFP

... and says the ban had fuelled religious intolerance in France.

Opinion - French schools
Ten ways France must fix its 'failing' school system
What must France do to fix its school system? Photo: AFP

Longstanding issues in French school system have not been dealt with, argues journalist and author Peter Gumbel.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Emmanuel Macron: The whizzkid who could shake up French politics
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
2,749
jobs available