World's oldest person, Jeanne Calment, may have faked her age: report

The woman who is believed the oldest person who ever lived may have padded her real age by 23 years.

When Jeanne Calment died in August 1997, in Arles, France, her age was reported as 122 years and 164 days ― an all-time record, according to Guinness World Records.

However, Russian researchers now say that the woman claiming to be Calment was actually her 99-year-old daughter, Yvonne Calment.

A new paper published by ResearchGate suggests that Jeanne Calment died in 1934 and Yvonne Calment assumed her identity so the family would not have to pay inheritance taxes, according to Inside Edition.

Some of the evidence collected by mathematician Nicolai Zak and gerontologist Valeri Novoselov include an identity card issued to Jeanne Calment in the 1930s that does not list the same hair color or height that she had later in life, according to the San Jose Mercury News.  

In an interview with LeafScience.org, Novoselov said Yvonne Calment’s husband, Joseph Charles Frédéric Billot, never remarried, despite the fact that he was only 42 at the moment of her supposed death.

“There were many mentions that he was getting along very well with Jeanne and they were raising Yvonne’s son Frédéric Jean Paul together,” Novoselov said.

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TO GO WITH AFP STORY Centenary twins, Paulette Olivier (L) and Simone Thiot (R) pose with an old picture of their 20 years inside their room at the retirement home 'Les Bois Blancs' on February 11, 2016. The twins, birth name Lamolie, were born on January 30, 1912 at 11 o'clock at the address Impasse 'du coteau' in Limeray, a few kilometres from Amboise. The two sisters aged 104 years are believed to be the two oldest twins in the world. / AFP / GUILLAUME SOUVANT (Photo credit should read GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY Centenary twins, Paulette Olivier (R) and Simone Thiot (L) walk in the corridors at the retirement home 'Les Bois Blancs' on February 11, 2016. The twins, birth name Lamolie, were born on January 30, 1912 at 11 o'clock at the address Impasse 'du coteau' in Limeray, a few kilometres from Amboise. The two sisters aged 104 years are believed to be the two oldest twins in the world. / AFP / GUILLAUME SOUVANT (Photo credit should read GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images)
Worlds oldest person Jeralean Talley attends the 17th Annual Ford Freedom Awards at Max Fischer Music Center on May 5, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Monica Morgan/WireImage via Getty)
Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman, poses for a photo on her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 4, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. Japanese woman Misao Okawa is oldest living person in the world as certified by the Guinness World Records, who celebrates her 117 birthday on March 5. Okawa has been dubbed the worlds oldest living person since the June 12, 2013 death of 116 years and 54 days old Jiroemon Kimura, also Japanese. She is ranked first Oldest Japanese person ever and third person reached to 117in the world. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman looks on before her 116th birthday celebrations at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2014 in Osaka, Japan. Okawa, born in Tenma, Osaka, on March 5, 1898 to a family of Kimono merchants, married in 1919 and had three children, of which a daughter and a son are still alive, and has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
Family Portrait Of Sarah Knauss (Seated Left) The World's Oldest Women June 15, 1999. (Photo By Theo Westenberger/Getty Images)
Christian Mortensen enjoys a birthday cigar during his 115 birthday celebration at The Aldersly Garden Retirement Community where he resides 15 August. Mortensen, the world's oldest man, attributes his longevity to drinking lots of water, living life with a positive attitude, and smoking a weekly cigar. (Photo by Monica M. Davey/AFP/Getty Images)
Christian Mortensen, 114 years-old, takes a puff from his cigar at his home in the Aldersly Retirement Community in San Rafael, California Mortensen is the oldest man alive as he will celebrate his 115 birthday on August 16th. (Photo by John G. Mabanglo/AFP/Getty Images)
Walter Breuning, the 'World's Oldest Man,' receives one of the Freemasons' highest honors, a George Washington Gavel, at his 113th birthday party on September 21, 2009 at the Rainbow retirement home in Great Falls, Montana. Breuning, born Sept. 21, 1896 in Melrose Minnesota, inherited the title of 'World's Oldest Man' when Henry Allingham of England died last July 18. Breuning moved to Great Falls in 1918 with the expansion of the railroad and worked in the railroad business for 50 years. He says he stays healthy by eating just two meals per day and exercises by strolling the halls of the retirement home with the aid of a walker. His earliest memory is of hearing his grandfather talk about fighting as a Union soldier in the Civil War. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Walter Breuning, at age 112 now considered the oldest man in the world, smiles while at the Rainbow Assisted Living Facility on July 23, 2009 in Great Falls, Montana. Bruening, born Sept. 21, 1896 in Melrose Minnesota, inherited the title when Henry Allingham of England died last weekend. Breuning moved to Great Falls in 1918 with the expansion of the railroad and worked for the railroad for 50 years. He says he stays healthy by eating just two meals per day and excercises by strolling the halls of the retirement home with the aid of a walker. He shuns medicine, except for one low-dose aspirin per day. His earliest memory is of hearing his grandfather talk about fighting as a Union soldier in the Civil War. The Guinness World Records is expected to make the official announcement soon, after verifying his records. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Yukichi Chuganji, certified by Guinness World Records as world's oldest man, celebrates his 113th birthday in Ogiri, Fukuoka Prefecture 23 March 2002. Chuganji was born in 1889 and made living breeding silkworm and working for a bank. (Photo via Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images)
Spanish Joan Riudavets Moll, born 15 December 1889 in Es Mitjorn Gran, Menorca, poses for photographers during his birthday party. Riudavets, a former shoemaker, sleeps up to 14 hours a day, only suffers pain in his legs but can walk. He watches TV, reads newspapers and gives a lot of importance to food, especially yoghurts. (Photo by Oscar Pipkin/AFP/Getty Images)
Spanish Joan Riudavets Moll, born 15 December 1889 in Es Mitjorn Gran, Menorca, blows candles next to Rosa Estaras the Vice-President of the Balearic Government during his birthday party. Riudavets, a former shoemaker, sleeps up to 14 hours a day, only suffers pain in his legs but can walk. He watches TV, reads newspapers and gives a lot of importance to food, especially yoghurts. (Photo by Oscar Pipkin/AFP/Getty Images)
Japan's oldest person Yoneko Minagawa, 113, smiles as she receives a flower bouquet at a nursing home in the town of Fukuchi in Fukuoka prefecture, on Japan's southern island of Kyushu 15 September 2006, ahead of the Japanese holiday 18 September, 'Respect for the Aged Day'. Yoneko Minagawa was born 04 January 1893, becoming Japan's oldest person when Ura Koyama died last year. Meanwhile Japan's oldest man, Tomoji Tanabe of Miyazaki prefecture, also on Kyushu island, turned 111 years old 18 September to coincide with the national holiday. (Photo via Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images)
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He added that he checked out a birth certificate of a maid that Jeanne Calment said took her to school as a child.

“It turns out that she was 10 years younger than Jeanne, which means that she could only be taking her daughter Yvonne to school,” he said.

The researchers noted that Jeanne Calment had most of her personal papers destroyed rather than turn them over to the local archive in Arles, suggesting the family may have something to hide.

Meanwhile, Jean-Marie Robine, the French gerontologist who helped validate Jeanne Calment’s extreme age in the 1990s, is dismissing the age-faking theory as nonsense.

“All of this is incredibly shaky and rests on nothing,” he said, according to the National Post

While researching Jeanne Calment’s claim she was born in 1875, Robine said, he and a colleague made sure to ask her questions that only she would know the answer to, such as the name of her mathematics teacher.

“Her daughter couldn’t have known that,” he said.

Robine is also skeptical that a lie of that magnitude could be kept secret for more than 80 years.

“Do you have any idea how many people would have needed to lie?” Robine said. “One day Fernand Calment starts passing off his daughter as his wife and everyone keeps quiet about it? It’s preposterous.” 

The only way to determine the truth is to exhume both bodies for testing.

Should the researchers’ theory be proved correct, the new record for the world’s oldest person ever would go to Sarah Knauss, an American who died in 1999 at the age of 119, according to Inside Edition.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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