Sunday, February 26, 2012
In 1965, lawyer André-François Raffray bought a house in France under a system called en viager. In this payment plan, the purchaser pays the seller a monthly fee - 2500 francs, in Raffray's case - for as long as the seller survives, after which the house becomes the sole property of the purchaser. As the seller was a 90-year-old woman and Raffray was only 47 at the time, he felt he would most likely be getting the house for below its value. Unfortunately for him, the woman selling the house was Jeanne Calment, who lived to be the oldest woman in recorded history, surviving until the age of 122. Raffray died before she did, after which his wife continued the payments until she also died. In the end, he and his estate paid Calment more than twice the value of the house.