Heiress to cosmetics firm L’Oreal, Liliane Bettencourt, has died aged 94, leaving behind a net worth of £30 billion.
Ms Bettencourt departed from L’Oreal’s board in 2012 and did not remain in the public eye, except for in May 2015 when eight people were found guilty of exploiting her due to her dementia.
Her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, entered into a feud with her estranged mother following concerns that her bad health was leading to her being exploited by members of her entourage.
In 2008, a photographer named François-Marie Banier who had become a friend of Ms Bettencourt was gifted items including paintings by Picasso and an island in the Seychelles. Ms Bettencourt-Meyers took legal action following rumours that her mother was considering adopting Mr Banier.
Three years later, a judge ruled that Ms Bettencourt be put under the guardianship of her family because of her declining health, however a political scandal then emerged regarding claims that Patrice de Maistre, Ms Bettencourt’s financial manager, had taken money from her to go towards former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s election campaign in 2007.
Mr Sarkozy denied accusations of impropriety and had charges against him dropped in 2013. Two years on in 2015, eight people, including Mr Banier, were convicted and had to pay millions to the family in damages.
All of Ms Bettencourt’s assets are in a trust controlled by her daughter, and she is succeeded on the board by her grandchild Jean-Victor Meyers, who serves as vice chairman.
Chairman and chief executive of L’Oreal Group, Jean-Paul Agon, said in a statement: “All of L'Oréal's employees join me in expressing our most sincere condolences and affectionate thoughts in these sad moments to Mrs. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, Mr. Jean-Pierre Meyers, and their two sons Jean-Victor and Nicolas.
“We all had a great admiration for Liliane Bettencourt who always looked after L'Oréal, the company and its employees, and was very attached to its success and development.”
Mr Agon concluded: “She has personally contributed greatly to its success for many years. Mrs Liliane Bettencourt was a great lady of beauty who has left us and whom we will never forget.”
L’Oreal emerged from a hair dye company launched by Ms Bettencourt’s father, Eugène Schueller, in 1909. It now employs 89,300 people across the world and generated EUR 25.8 billion in sales in 2016.
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