The past few months have not been good for Jean-Marie Messier, ex-ceo of Vivendi Universal.

At summer’s start, he headed the world’s second-largest media group, awarded himself a multimillion-euro bonus and resided in one of New York’s most desirable locations. He is now jobless, deprived of a severance package and will soon be homeless.

As the Franco-American media mammoth struggles to find cash and seeks to sever all ties with Messier, it aims to kill two birds with one stone and sell the $17.5 million (€17.9m; £11.3m) Park Avenue apartment it bought for his use last year.

According to Jacques Espinasse, Vivendi’s chief finance officer, Messier has until the end of 2002 to move out, until which time he must pay rent – estimated at between $65,000 and $75,000 a month.

The move also has symbolic significance – Messier’s relocation to New York infuriated the guardians of French culture, who saw it as a sign that Vivendi was surrendering its Gallic heritage to US influences.

Messier is said to be writing a book about his fall from grace. At his present rate of descent, a suitable title might be Down and Out in Paris and New York.

Data sourced from: The Times (London); additional content by WARC staff