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AFP
September 17, 2019

Frenchwoman was world’s oldest person, researchers say

World

AFP
September 17, 2019

PARIS: Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died aged 122 two decades ago, should keep the title of the oldest person on record, researchers said on Monday, rejecting claims of fraud.

Ageing specialists Jean-Marie Robine and Michel Allard -- who declared her the longest-lived person in the 1990s -- said a review of old and new data confirmed that she "remains the oldest human whose age is well-documented."

"Recently the claim that families Calment and Billot (her in-laws) organised a conspiracy concerning tax fraud based on identity fraud between mother and daughter gained international media attention," Robine, Allard and two other researchers wrote in The Journals of Gerontology.

"Here, we reference the original components of the validation as well as additional documentation to address various claims of the conspiracy theory and provide evidence for why these claims are based on inaccurate facts," they wrote.

Calment died in 1997, setting a record that is still unsurpassed. She used to joke that God must have forgotten about her. Last December, Russian researchers claimed in a report that Calment had died in 1934 and that her daughter Yvonne took on her mother’s identity to avoid paying inheritance tax.

They said the woman who died in 1997 was Yvonne, not her mother, and at a mere 99 years of age. The Russian claims were based on biographies, interviews and photos of Jeanne Calment, witness testimony, and public records of the city of Arles in southern France where she lived.

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