Oil of the Stars: A Trend Among Celebrities to Invest in Olive Oil

Olive growing seems to be an increasing trend among the rich and famous who own properties in Tuscany and Provence.

Sep. 25, 2017
By Isabel Putinja

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The launch of Brad Pitt’s and Angelina Jolie’s olive oil last spring may not have made just as much news as their impend­ing divorce, but the Hollywood stars are not the only celebri­ties to launch an olive oil brand. Olive grow­ing seems to be an increas­ing trend among the rich and famous who own prop­er­ties in Tuscany and Provence.

Of course, they won’t make much money sell­ing it, but there are fis­cal advan­tages to trans­form­ing a sec­ondary res­i­dence into an agri­cul­tural unit.- Alexis Muñoz

Long before Brangelina were an item, Sting and his wife Trudie Styler were already pro­duc­ing and sell­ing their own organic olive oil. In 1999 they bought a 300-year-old estate in Tuscany — a 350-hectare prop­erty that included olive groves. Named after the estate, their olive oil, Il Palagio, is an organic medium blend made of Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino olive vari­eties. It won a Gold Award at the 2017 New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC) in April.

Popular French singer and actor Patrick Bruel took home a gold at an olive oil com­pe­ti­tion in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur this year. The award was the most recent addi­tion to his eclec­tic col­lec­tion of acco­lades that also includes three dia­mond records, a National Order of Merit from the French gov­ern­ment, and a World Series of Poker bracelet (the most cov­eted prize in the poker world).

Despite the atten­tion his lat­est award has gen­er­ated in France, the singer keeps a low pro­file when it comes to mar­ket­ing his olive oil which is sold under the brand name l’Huile H. His name does not appear any­where on the label, but it’s no secret that this mono­va­ri­etal L’aglandau is pro­duced on his 20-hectare pri­vate organic olive farm in Provence.

In an arti­cle in Le Figaro, Joël Gayet, the brand’s mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist, explained that the singer shies away from pub­lic­ity because he prefers to have his oil speak for itself.

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The same arti­cle reported that French actor Jean Reno is another celebrity who spends time in his olive groves in Provence when he’s not under the bright lights. Reno has been mak­ing his own oil since 2015 at his farm in the val­ley of Baux-de-Provence. Marketed under the name Réserve Jean Reno and with a pro­duc­tion of 1,500 to 2,000 liters a year, it’s presently only for sale to American restau­rants by the importer d’Artagnan.

Connoisseurs know that pro­duc­ing a high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil is labor-inten­sive and expen­sive as a result, but celebrity oils are often sold with a celebrity pre­mium. Brangelina’s blend l’Huile d’Olive Miraval costs $31 per half-liter, while Sting and Styler’s Il Palagio is $31.77 on the Best Olive Oils Marketplace for the same quan­tity. Bruel’s olive oil is also sold for $31 (€28) on the L’Huile H web­site.

Despite the price tags, the lim­ited quan­ti­ties pro­duced on these pri­vate estates are not big enough to guar­an­tee a sig­nif­i­cant sup­ple­men­tary income, so what is it that attracts celebri­ties to olive oil mak­ing?

Alexis Muñoz, an expert olive oil pro­ducer who’s often con­sulted by stars and the super-rich who are look­ing to pro­duce their own oil con­firmed that the extra income is not a moti­va­tion, but there are other poten­tial advan­tages. Many stars buy prop­er­ties in Provence where gen­er­ally there are a few olive trees and even a mill located close by,” he told Le Figaro.

Naturally they want to pro­duce their own oil. Of course, they won’t make much money sell­ing it, but there are fis­cal advan­tages to trans­form­ing a sec­ondary res­i­dence into an agri­cul­tural unit: less tax and the pos­si­bil­ity to apply for grants.”

Other French celebri­ties who have pro­duced and mar­keted their own olive oil include leg­endary singers Charles Aznavour and Léo Ferré actress and model Carole Bouquet and fash­ion designer Norma Kamali. More recently, Inès De La Fressange, the for­mer face of Chanel, has lent her name to an olive oil by Oliviers & Co sold in a bot­tle spe­cially designed by her.


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