“I am ruined but happy!”

“They call me the Oriental because I’m sentimental”, sang Enrico Macias in 1964. The following year, the title Enfants de tout pays was released which had launched him, the teacher from Constantine in Algeria whose the family had settled in Argenteuil. Thanks to these two unforgettable hits, the “beggar of love” made a sensational entry into the world of French song, imposing his pied-noir accent and his style full of humanism. To celebrate his 60-year career, the 84-year-old artist is embarking on a new tour entitled Encore un tour with the same enthusiasm as of January 21. However, the trials of life have hardly spared him.

Reversal of fortune

On the airwaves of RTL on January 16, the sentimental Oriental spoke from his heart. If he is still standing, it is above all thanks to his fans of “all generations” for whom he remains a symbol, that of the uprooted. “Goodbye my country has become an anthem for all the people who have left their country”, humbly concedes Enrico. But his immense popularity did not protect him from hard knocks. In 1965, he was sad to lose his brother Jean-Claude in a car accident. And, fifteen years ago, it was Suzy, the woman of his life, who breathed his last, leaving the artist inconsolable. But despite his immense sadness, he managed to keep his head held high. “Life has given me terrible pains but everything is fine all the same. Since Suzy died in my arms, I no longer fear death,” he says.

And that’s not all ! In recent years, Enrico has also been talked about following a scam that ruined him. A complicated story that began in 2007. The singer then obtained from the Luxembourg subsidiary of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki a loan of 35 million euros which allowed him to invest in Madoff funds (named after the scammer Bernard Madoff). After the bankruptcy of this bank, its liquidators had undertaken to recover the receivables, which had forced Enrico to mortgage his villa in Saint-Tropez for 35 million euros. Finally sentenced in 2014 by the Luxembourg courts to repay 30 million euros to the bank – a decision confirmed on appeal in 2017 and for which his appeal in cassation was rejected in 2019 – he finds himself today on the straw.

But this reversal of fortune does not seem to affect him more than that. “It doesn’t matter, you don’t take your house or your money to the afterlife. Losing material possessions is nothing compared to losing loved ones,” he argues. And to add: “Even if I am ruined, I am happy as I am…” By dint of suffering, Enrico, the magnificent, has forged a shell overcoming all these problems with dignity. In these dark and complicated times, Enrico Macias, carried by the unfailing resilience of the “pieds-noirs”, offers us a tremendous lesson in life and optimism from which we would do well to draw inspiration…

Valerie EDMOND

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