Lily Lacoste, the 96-year-old former owner of Château Pétrus in Pomerol, last week resisted efforts to place her under the legal guardianship of the local court of protection.

Last year her executor Michel Chasseuil discovered that 400 bottles of Château Pétrus had allegedly been misappropriated from Lacoste. It is understood the bottles formed part of a legal settlement between Lacoste and the Libourne shippers J-P Moueix, who are the current owners of Pétrus.

The local courts last December appointed a protection officer to safeguard Lacoste’s interests. It is understood this officer, Laurence Jeanson-Leclercq, has twice asked Lacoste to place herself voluntarily ‘sous tutelle judiciaire’ (to be made a ward of court) – under which her independent legal rights would be greatly restricted.

But both Michel Chasseuil and Lacoste’s closest relatives – and the former proprietor herself – question the need for and the desirability of such a move. ‘I do not want this to happen,’ Lily Lacoste told decanter.com. She said she was distressed by the events and found herself increasingly isolated. ‘I don’t know who to trust any longer,’ she said.

There has been a protracted tussle recently over who should represent Lacoste. Last month the police questioned her former executor Michel Loulière in connection with the missing bottles of Pétrus.

Lacoste dismissed Loulière last August in favour of Chasseuil, a long-standing acquaintance and proprietor of Château Feytit-Clinet, another Pomerol estate. But her lawyer Jean-Philippe Magret reversed this decision a fortnight later and reinstated Loulière, though it seems without written authority.

Loulière was again dismissed on 28 October, and Magret replaced with Gilbert Collard, a high-profile Marseille lawyer.

The local courts have now removed this team. One of Jeanson-Leclercq’s first actions was to verbally dismiss Chasseuil as Lacoste’s ‘mandataire’ or executor and to dismiss Collard.

Chasseuil said Jeanson-Leclercq has also asked the local gendarmerie to deny him access to Lacoste. He told Decanter that he is bringing legal proceedings to reverse Jeanson-Leclercq’s decisions.

Written by Patrick Matthews4 February 2003