While Johnny Hallyday never made it big in the United Sates, he was considered the Elvis of France. His death in 2017 triggered a wave of national mourning and his name still appears in headlines to this day.
Much of that news concerns a battle for his estate, which is valued in the tens of millions of dollars.
Hallyday made two wills, one of which left everything to his most recent wife, Laeticia. But his children from a previous marriage, David Hallyday and Laura Smet, have been contesting the will because excluding family members is not allowed under French law.
The dispute revolves around a basic question: Was he a resident of France or the United States?
Laeticia Hallyday argued that they had been living in Los Angeles since 2007 and their kids were raised there and attend school there. But David Hallyday and Laura Smet offered a surprising counter argument: Instagram.
According to the New York Times, during a hearing in a courtroom in France, the pair introduced a chart that tracked their location using Hallyday’s Instagram account. Based on that Instagram data, he spent 151 days in France in 2015, and 168 in 2014. Later, while undergoing treatment for the cancer that would eventually take his life, he spent eight consecutive months in France.
The judge was convinced, ruling that French courts had jurisdiction in the matter. While the decision will likely be appealed, Instagram’s role in this case is just one more sign that our digital footprints will live on long after we are gone.