The Edmondson Blog

Jeanne Calment

In 1965, Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, aged 90, signed an en viager agreement to sell her apartment to lawyer François Raffray. En Viager agreements, which are common in France, are an arrangement whereby an owner transfers ownership of their home but are allowed to continue to live there until they die. The purchaser does not pay a lump sum as with a conventional sale, but, instead, agrees to make a monthly payment to the seller until they die, at which point the purchaser takes possession of the home for no additional payment. At the time of the agreement, the value of Jeanne’s apartment was equal to ten years of payments.

Unfortunately for Raffray, who was age 47 at the time of the agreement, Jeanne went on to become the oldest living person ever, eventually dying in 1997 at the age of 122 years 164 days. Raffray never gained possession of the apartment. He died of cancer in December 1995, at the age of 77, leaving his widow to continue the payments for twenty more months.

Interestingly, Jeanne smoked until she was 117, quit, and then restarted a year later, simply because, “Once you've lived as long as me, then they can’t tell you not to smoke.”

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