Coco Chanel once tried to betray her Jewish business partners during the Nazi occupation of France by writing to German officials, arguing that their company was Jewish property and so should be confiscated, then redistributed, namely to her, according to a new book.
In the book, “The Secret of Chanel No. 5,” a history of her iconic perfume, author Tilar Mazzeo recounts how Jewish brothers Paul and Pierre Wertheimer, who had partnered with Gabriel “Coco” Chanel to form Les Parfums Chanel, were forced to flee France as the German army closed in.
Chanel’s attempt to take over the company was foiled by the Wertheimer brothers, who, before leaving Paris had passed their stake to industrialist Felix Amiot, who’d agreed to maintain it for them during the occupation to prevent it from being seized.
The company is still majority owned by the Wertheimer family — now brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, who are two of the richest men on the planet, with a combined fortune estimated at $19.2 billion.
Chanel’s iniquity should come as no surprise. In an article in the New York Times in 2011, she was referred to as “a wretched human being” not least of all because of her collaboration with the Nazi regime, which included a well documented affair with a Nazi officer. A 2011 book, “Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War,” even argued convincingly that she worked as a Nazi intelligence operative.