World's richest woman and L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt dies
iliane Bettencourt, the L'Oréal heiress and the world's richest woman, has died.
Mrs Bettencourt passed away in the early hours of Thursday at the age of 94, her daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers has announced.
"Liliane Bettencourt died this night at home. She would have been 95 on October 21. My mother left peacefully," Mrs Bettencourt-Meyers said in a statement.Mrs Bettencourt was ranked the richest woman in the world with a fortune of $39.5 billion last year, making her the world's 14th richest person.
In a statement, L'Oréal chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon expressed his condolences to the family and said: "We all had a deep admiration for Liliane Bettencourt who has always watched over L'Oréal, the company and its employees, and who was very attached to its success and development."She personally contributed a lot to its success for very many years.
"A great woman of beauty has left us and we will never forget her."
In later life, she had been at the heart of a high-profile legal battle over whether she was in her right mind when she handed over almost €1 billion in artworks and life insurance to François-Marie Banier, a celebrity photographer.
In 2007, Mrs Bettencourt Meyers filed a criminal suit against Banier for abus de faiblesse (abuse of weakness), claiming that he had ruthlessly exploited her then 84-year-old mother's oncoming dementia. Mrs Meyers said she felt compelled to act when an eavesdropping chambermaid told her she had heard Banier asking to be adopted by Bettencourt.
The so-called Bettencourt Affair electrified France for a decadPatrice de Maistre, who managed Bettencourt's vast fortune, was accused of getting her to hand over envelopes of cash to members of Mr Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party during his 2007 presidential campaign.
The charges against Mr Sarkozy, who denied all wrongdoing, were subsequently dropped in October 2013 due to lack of evidence.
Secret tape recordings made by the Bettencourt butler revealed conversations about donations in the tens of thousands and requests from her entourage for financial gifts.In May 2015, a French court found eight people guilty of taking advantage of her dementia. Banier was sentenced to three years and ordered to pay Bettencourt $172 million.
Banier and Mrs Bettencourt-Meyers recently came to an out of court agreement on ending further legal action.
Last year, an appeals court reduced his sentence to four years suspended and a €375,000 fine.
On Thursday, in the latest legal chapter in the long running series of court battles, a Bordeaux judge acquitted five journalists of "breaching the intimacy of the private life" of Mrs Bettencourt and ruled that her former butler was "not penally responsible" for illegally recording the late heiress because he did so to protect her.