The memories of Georges Brassens, still hostages of a bitter legal battle, more than 42 years after the singer's death

The memories of Georges Brassens, still hostages of a bitter legal battle, more than 42 years after the singer's death

The memories of Georges Brassens, still hostages of a bitter legal battle, more than 42 years after the singer's death

Un conflit toujours vif, plus de 40 ans après le décès du chanteur. MAXPPP – GUY LALOT

The Paris judicial court must render a decision on January 17, 2024 in the imbroglio of procedures between the Sétois Serge Cazzani, nephew and sole heir of the artist, and Françoise Onteniente, daughter of his right arm and friend "Gibraltar", who wanted to put up for sale several hundred objects kept by his father. The conflict could last for years.

Friends first, or family ? More than 42 years after the death of Georges Brassens, on October 29, 1981 in Saint-Gély-du-Fesc (Hérault) on legal conflict between his only heir, his nephew Serge Cazzini, and the daughter of his friend Pierre Onténiente, known as "Gibraltar", over the property of several hundred objects and memories of the artist, seems totally bogged down.

Civil and criminal procedures that intersect

This January 17, 2024, the Paris judicial court must render a decision, via the pre-trial judge, to untangle a little this legal imbroglio where civil and criminal procedures ;#39;intersect, since the ban decided in extremis in summary proceedings, on October 20, 2022, of the auction sale in Drouot of 404 objects and souvenirs having belonged to the most Sétois of our singers.

On October 22, 2022, the day of the 101st anniversary of the birth of Brassens, a real treasure was to be dispersed to the highest bidder at the Hôtel Drouot: around twenty pipes, costumes of stage, but also song manuscripts, letters, posters, his last guitar, and above all a personal diary written between 1964 and 1981, estimated between 100,000 and 150,000 euros by the ;Gros and Delettrez study.

Objects from two Parisian houses

All these souvenirs were proposed by Françoise Onténiente, the daughter of the former private secretary and right-hand man of Brassens, and came from the two Parisian houses that Georges Brassens had made available to him, rue Santos -Dumont and impasse Florimont, in the 14th arrondissement.

The first housed Editions Musicales 57, which managed the artist's copyright, and the second, where Brassens had been hosted at the very beginning of his career by Jeanne and Marcel Planche, had been bought, then offered to Pierre Onténiente by the artist, and is today occupied by his daughter.

In Sète, the heir sees red

Problem: Georges Brassens has only one heir, his nephew Serge Cazzani, who still lives in Sète, and who sees red upon learning of the existence of this auction. As universal legatee, he summons Groz et Delettrez to withdraw the 404 lots concerned, believing that he is the only legitimate owner of these archives and personal objects that belonged to his uncle.< /p>

A "peaceful and continuous possession"

For her part, Françoise Onteniente replies via her lawyer that "The late Georges Brassens entrusted Pierre Onteniente with the management of his posthumous work, authorizing him to dispose of his "papers" (notes, drafts, drafts and unpublished material) according to what he deems fit, and that the "peaceful and unequivocal, continuous and uninterrupted possession" of these objects makes her the indisputable owner.

Prudently, the judge in summary proceedings had estimated on October 20, 2022 that ’given the "final nature" of such an auction, only its prohibition was appropriate to the situation, "pending the outcome of the dispute between Mr. Cazzani and Ms. Onteniente.& quot;

Breach of trust and concealment

Furthermore, a new complaint with the constitution of a civil party was filed on October 14, 2022 for breach of trust and concealment by Serge Cazzani's lawyer, after a first complaint on the same charge, in 2015, closed without further action by the Paris prosecutor's office six months later, the offense then not seeming to be sufficiently characterized.

On January 17, justice will say whether the civil proceedings or the criminal proceedings can continue, or whether one must be suspended, while the other is trench.

A trial in two years ?

"If the civil action continues, a trial before the 3rd civil chamber of the Paris judicial court, which deals in particular with intellectual property issues, is possible. ;here a year or two, to decide the question of ownership of these objects" explains an observer of the file.

A deadline which would be further extended by a possible appeal. If it is necessary to wait for the criminal action to be successful, the delay should be even longer. "Criminal proceedings of this nature last for years, especially since we are dealing with attacks on property, and not on people, which are not part of the judicial priorities" underlines the same source.

"Thief, it's extremely violent"

Behind this battle there are also different objectives. "These documents are part of the national heritage. It was always our intention to put them at the BNF and at the'Espace Brassens" (from Sète Editor’s note) Serge Cazzani highlighted in October 2022, in Midi Libre. "To be considered a thief is extremely violent for me and the memory of my father" replied Françoise Onténiente. 

In the meantime, these 404 memories of Georges Brassens remain under judicial sequestration, a shame for the memory of this freedom-loving artist.

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