Jeanne Calment was 122 when she died. But last year a Russian scientist claimed she was a con artist, sparking an international dispute over the woman who may still hold the secret to eternal life
If time makes fools of us all, you couldn’t blame André-François Raffray for taking it more personally than most. In 1965, Raffray, a lawyer in the southern French city of Arles, thought he had hit on the real-estate version of a sure thing. The 47-year-old had signed a contract to buy an apartment from one of his clients “en viager”: a form of property sale by which the buyer makes a monthly payment until the seller’s death, when the property becomes theirs. His client, Jeanne Calment, was 90 and sprightly for her age; she liked to surprise people by leaping from her chair at the hairdresser. But still, it couldn’t be long: Raffray just had to shell out 2,500 francs a month and wait it out.
Jeanne said she had met Van Gogh in her teens. He was ugly and dishevelled, she said; they called him ‘the dingo’
A switch would require a queasy level of deception. Yvonne would have had to live as her father’s wife
Zak has called for the testing of Calment’s DNA: ‘The potential benefits for science are huge’
The life-extension field is beginning to attract serious investment. Google has put $1.5bn towards ‘solving death’'People are caught up in magical thinking': was the oldest woman in the world a fraud?
Jeanne Calment was 122 when she died. But last year a Russian scientist claimed she was a con artist, sparking an international dispute over the woman who may still hold the secret to eternal lifewww.theguardian.com