A new book claims that iconic fashion designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel tried to betray her Jewish business partners, Paul and Pierre Wertheimer, during the rise of fascism and the Nazis in Europe in the 1930s.
In the book, "The Secret of Chanel No. 5," author Tilar Mazzeo claims that Chanel wrote to German officials arguing that their company, Les Parfums Chanel, was "Jewish property" and that it should be confiscated and then redistributed solely back to her.
"The Secret of Chanel No. 5" follows the rise of the legendary perfume of the same name. It recounts how the Wertheimer brothers had to flee France to avoid Nazi persecution, but not before passing their stake of the company to Felix Amiot, an industrialist who agreed to maintain the company during the German occupation.
Today, the majority of the company's shares are still owned by the Wertheimer family (brothers Alain and Gerard) who have a combined fortune at approximately $19.2 billion, and are two of the wealthiest men in the world.
"The Secret of Chanel No. 5" is not the first source to suggest Coco Chanel was a despicable person. In 2011, an article published in the New York Times referred to her as "a wretched human being," mentioning her well-documented affair with a Nazi officer.
A book released that same year, "Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War," even suggested she collaborated with the Nazis and worked as an intelligence operative.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life