Raymond Martinot and his wife were the toast of the world cryonics movement. For years they were France’s best preserved corpses, lying in a freezer in a chateau in the Loire Valley, in the hope that modern science could one day bring them back to life. But the French couple’s journey into the future ended prematurely when, 22 years after his mother’s body was put into cold store, their son discovered the freezer unit had broken down and they had started to thaw.
The couple’s bodies were removed from the faulty freezer and cremated this week. Under French law a corpse must be buried, cremated or formally donated to science. But the couple’s son had vowed to go to the European Court of Human Rights to be allowed to keep his frozen parents in his cellar. If he failed, supporters in Colorado had offered to take them.
On Thursday Remy Martinot said he had no choice but to cremate his parents’ bodies after the technical fault caused their temperatures to rise above the constant level required, -65 degrees.
Raymond Martinot, a doctor who once taught medicine in Paris, spent decades preparing for his demise in the belief that if he was frozen and preserved scientists would be able to bring him back to life by 2050. In the 1970s he bought a chateau near Samur in the Loire Valley and began preparing a freezer unit for himself.
But his wife, Monique Leroy, died first, in 1984, and was the first to enter the intricate stainless steel freezer unit in the chateau’s vaulted cellars. She remained in the freezer for almost 20 years while Dr Martinot met his high refrigeration bills by admitting paying visitors to the cellar.
He said he opened the freezer to check it every five years. The freezer was rigged up to a generator with an alarm to alert Dr Martinot to changes in temperature or anyone opening it.
In 2002 Dr Martinot died of a stroke, aged 84, and his son followed his orders to inject him with the same anti-coagulants and store him alongside.