February 9th, 2021 6:55 PM by Elizabeth Washburn
The greatest fully authenticated age to which any human has ever lived is 122 years 164 days by Jeanne Louise Calment (France) and she has a great real estate story to share.
She was born on 21 February 1875, around 14 years before the Eiffel Tower was constructed (she saw it being built), and some 15 years before the advent of movies. The year after her birth, Tolstoy published Anna Karenina and Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. Jeanne Louise Calment lived a quiet life in France, but an unprecedentedly long one.
Her marriage to a wealthy distant cousin, Fernand Nicolas Calment, in 1896 meant that Jeanne didn’t have to work for a living. That may have played a part in her extraordinary longevity: she was free to swim, play tennis, cycle (she was still cycling until the age of 100) and roller skate, all of which promoted excellent good health. Inevitably, in due course, those around her passed away – including her husband (poisoned by some spoiled cherries, aged 73), her daughter Yvonne (who died from pneumonia in 1934) and even her grandson, Frédéric (who died in a car accident in 1963). But not Jeanne.
As she was without heirs, in 1965 a lawyer named André-François Raffray set up a “reverse mortgage” with Jeanne. According to this arrangement, he would pay her 2,500 francs every month until she died, whereupon he would inherit her apartment. It must have seemed like a good deal for Monseiur Raffray (then aged 47) – after all, Jeanne was 90 at the time. Incredibly, however, Jeanne outlived him. He died thirty years later at age 77 but his family continued the payments. By the time of Jeanne's death, they had paid Jeanne more than double the value of her apartment.