Mr Jean Jacques Naudet,
On May 13 you published an investigation by Michel Puech into the history of Gamma/Sygma. According to my European rights of reply, I ask that you publish this letter within 48 hours.
Grave mistakes were made by the people interviewed, and by Michel Puech. I cannot allow them to stand because some of them have caused me great offense.
Twice it was suggested that the Gamma split was due to the fact that I had demanded “full powers.” But having been designated the “sole manager for life,” I already possessed them. Strangely, these rights were written by the lawyer Claude Faux, who represents Raymond Depardon. Michel Puech has received a copy.
All that I asked of my partners was an equal distribution of the reports among all of our photographers, whether they were members or not. And this was refused!
What’s more, I reject the assertion that I was already planning another agency during my time at Gamma. This calls into question my honesty. Nothing had been decided by May 12, 1973. I was waiting for a positive response from Depardon, which never came. Contrary to what has been said: my transparency, at both Gamma and Sygma, has always been irreproachable.
Finally, I would like to make it clear that it was never a question of being a cooperative. This is written nowhere. And I see that Jean Monteux was never asked, most certainly because he would have sided with me.
As for the jealousy that arose from my relationship with Monique Kouznetzoff, it goes back to 1969. By 1973 we had more serious problems, namely the disappearance of Gilles Caron. But obviously my partners needed to find other reasons for the split; inequality among our reporters lacked spark.
I must also correct the assertion that at Sygma I held the majority with Monique Kouznetzoff. I held only 51%.
As for Jean-Marc Smadja, once he acquired his shares, he moved quickly to “help” Sygma, becoming CEO with a salary that matched mine, then hired a second CFO to seize total control of the management. That is how the monthly deficit of 100,000 francs came to be in 1997/1998, not my “old-school management style.” He held the majority. I had no say. My resignation was unnecessary; he fired both Monique Kouznetzoff and myself.
With this letter, a portion of the truth has been restored.