A brief genealogy of Chanel and its business interests, in images, quotations and statistics:
Top left - Pierre Wertheimer. A wealthy French Jewish entrepreneur who became Coco Chanel’s business partner and in 1924, the original owner of the Chanel label. He fled during the war, after having secretly sold his shares to a Christian friend and businessman in order to prevent the company’s seizure by Nazis.
Top right - Coco Chanel. After Wertheimer fled, Chanel wrote to the Nazi occupiers, asking to take full financial control of the company:
Parfums Chanel is still the property of Jews … and has been legally “abandoned” by the owners. I have an indisputable right of priority.
Bottom left - Alain and Gerard Wertheimer. Grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, who survived the war and returned to France, buying the company back and “agreeing to fund [Coco Chanel’s] couture house and pay all her bills - including her taxes - for the rest of her life.” They inherited financial control of the company and have an estimated net worth of $19.2b.
Bottom right - Karl Lagerfeld. The Wertheimers are known for being discreet, and are not publicly well known amongst fashion insiders. “Instead, they choose to let their head designer, Karl Lagerfeld, who they appointed in 1983, shine as the face of the company - tantalizing the public with his mysterious black glasses and pony tail of white hair.”
Full story at The Daily Mail.