French rocker Hallyday’s assets frozen in family row


PARIS - A court on Saturday ordered a freeze on the assets of France’s biggest rock star Johnny Hallyday, whose death in December sparked a bitter inheritance feud that has transfixed the c ountry.

Hallyday’s two biological children, Laura Smet and David Hallyday, are engaged in a highly public battle with the rock star’s widow Laeticia after they were written out of his will.

Under the ruling, Laeticia is banned from selling the house in the Paris suburbs she had put up for sale, or Hallyday’s home on the Caribbean island of St Barts.

The court said there was a risk Laeticia could transfer her husband’s assets into her trust, “virtually depriving” his children of any chance to win the money back.

The rights to Hallyday’s back-catalogue have also been frozen, although two properties in Santa Monica, California and Los Angeles have not.

The court in Nanterre, northwest of Paris, also dismissed the children’s claim to urgently examine Hallyday’s unfinished 51st studio album, due to be released later this year.

Laura Smet wanted the right to look at the album, worried the tracks were not up her father’s usual standards because they were unfinished.

Both parties claimed victory after the ruling, with Laeticia’s lawyer Ardavan Amir-Aslani saying he was “delighted” at the decision to leave Hallyday’s US properties and final album out of the row.

Hallyday’s death from lung cancer at 74 triggered an outpouring of grief over France’s answer to Elvis Presley, a star since the 1960s.

Fans were stunned when it emerged he had disinherited his biological children in favor of his widow and the two Vietnamese girls they had adopted.

In France children’s right to their parents’ estate is protected, but Hallyday and his wife had been based in the US for years before his death and his will had been rewritten under Californian law.

His estate, worth several tens of millions of dollars, includes multiple properties as well as luxury cars and rights to his 1,160 songs.

Hallyday had Laura in 1983 with the actress Nathalie Baye, while 51-year-old David is his son with his first wife, 1960s pop star Sylvie Vartan. - AFP