5 reasons why Haiti's Jean-Claude Duvalier is infamous

With the return of "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti, it recalls a time when one family ruled the island nation.

3. Luxury on the French Riviera

After Baby Doc Duvalier's ouster from Haiti in 1986, it seems the party began. He landed in France and immediately enjoyed the life of a wealthy celebrity, says Elizabeth Abbott, author of “Haiti: The Duvaliers and Their Legacy.” She told the Monitor this week that, “He lived lavishly, like a really wealthy person, spending thousands for meals and clothes and other things."

Duvalier reportedly had a residence outside Paris, a villa on the French Riviera, speedboats, and sports cars in his first years in France. The Wall Street Journal, in a 2003 article that interviews a – by then – down-and-out Duvalier, details the lavish life that he lived until losing much of his fortune in a 1993 divorce to his wife, Michele. "Home was a villa in Mougins in the hills above Cannes. He and his family drove through the French Riviera in a BMW and a Ferrari Testarossa and shopped at expensive boutiques. They owned a chateau outside Paris and two apartments in the city."

After the divorce, Duvalier reportedly failed to pay rents, ran up a massive hotel bill, and moved to a modest two-bedroom Paris apartment paid for by loyal Duvalierists. “He burned through most of it, and then the judgment froze the rest,” Ms. Abbott says. “He’s been living very modestly for several years now.”

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