Actress Laura Smet, 34, (see photo below) said she was “stupefied and hurt” on Monday after learning that his two natural children had been left nothing by the “French Elvis”, whose death in December plunged France into mourning.
Instead all his wealth and the rights to the 110 million records he sold will eventually go to Jade and Joy, the girls he adopted in Vietnam with
“Laura Smet is stupefied and hurt to learn that her father's will leaves all his wealth and rights to his wife Laeticia, using California law,” her lawyer said in a statement to AFP.
They said that Smet — a talented actress who has publicly struggled with her demons — was not even left the sleeve of the record, “Laura”, that he
father dedicated to her.
Smet, whose mother is actress Nathalie Baye, was shocked, to be cut out of the will, they said, and left without even a “souvenir — one of his guitars or motorbikes, not even the sleeve of the song 'Laura'.”
Her half-brother David Hallyday (see photo below right), whose mother, 1960s pop star Sylvie Vartan was the singer's first wife, has joined her in contesting the will, which was made in California, where Hallyday spent much of his later years.
Under French law, a wife does not automatically inherit all of her husband's estate, but generally has to share it with his children.
In an open letter to AFP, Smet, 34, exploded the myth of the “united front” that Hallyday's extended family managed to maintain for the huge “people's tribute” of his funeral, where French President Emmanuel Macron called him a “national hero”.
She also strongly hinted that Laeticia, a 42-year-old former model, prevented her from seeing her father before he died aged 74.
“It is still killing me not to have been able to say goodbye to you, Papa — do you know that at least?” Smet wrote.
“So many questions without answers. All those times when we had to hide to see and call each other,” she added.
Yet “I found out a couple of days ago that you have rewritten your will to totally disinherit David and me,” Smet wrote.
“It was only a few weeks ago that we were having a meal together and you said to me, 'So when are you going to have a child?'
“But what can I tell that child about you, someone whom I have admired so much?” she asked.
In the heart-rending letter Smet, whose mother is the actress Nathalie Baye, said her father comes to her in her dreams every night. “You are
handsome, with no tattoos, you are finally free…”
Hallyday began getting tattoos in the 1990s around the time he met Laeticia in Miami, marrying her just after she turned 21 in 1996.
“I would have preferred if all this had stayed within the family,” Smet wrote, “but unfortunately, in our family this is how it is.
“I am proud to be your daughter. I love you Papa,” she added.
Although Hallyday was never taken seriously abroad, he was by far the best-known rocker in France.
The fanatical biker's funeral cortege through Paris was escorted by hundreds of leather-clad motorcyclists, and others followed the coffin to his burial in the Caribbean island of St Barts.
Born Jean-Philippe Leo Smet, he took his stage name from an American relative and mentor, Lee Halliday, who introduced him to rock 'n' roll.