Monday 19 February 2018

Hollande spends a hair-raising €118,000 on personal barber

Francois Hollande: groomed Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Francois Hollande: groomed Photo: AFP/Getty Images

David Chazan

His hair may be thinning, but French president Francois Hollande employs a barber on a fat salary of €118,000 a year, it has emerged.

The revelation, in the weekly newspaper 'Le Canard Enchaîné', has sparked jibes about "shampoo socialism" - and speculation that the president has had implants to stop his hairline receding further.

The disclosure caused particular shock because Mr Hollande came to power on a left-wing platform, promising to be a "normal president" who would mark a break with the "extravagance" of his conservative predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his model wife, Carla Bruni.

The satirical newspaper published the contract of the hairdresser, Olivier Benhamou, who was hired in 2012 to work at the Elysée Palace for the duration of Mr Hollande's five-year term and earns as much as a government minister.

Mr Benhamou also enjoys a housing allowance and family benefits.

The balding 61-year-old president, long the target of gossip over his "unnaturally youthful" jet-black hair and already the most unpopular French leader in modern times, has now become the butt of jokes that his barber charges extra for implants or "miracle extensions".

The president's office confirmed his barber's pay but refused to comment on dye or implants. A palace official justified Mr Benhamou's pay by reference to his long hours, explaining that he attended to the president's hair every morning "and as many times as necessary, for every public appearance".

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