New Delhi: Liliane Bettencourt, the world’s richest woman and heiress to the L’Oreal cosmetics fortune passed away at the age of 94.
Confirming the news, her daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers in a statement, said that she died in the early hours of Thursday at her home in Paris.
“She would have been 95 on 21 October,” she added. “My mother left peacefully,” the Independent UK quoted her saying.
Bettencourt was ranked the richest woman in the world in 2016 by Forbes, with a fortune of $39.5bn (£29bn), which also gave her the status of the 14th richest person in the world.
As per the report in the Independent UK, L’Oréal chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon expressed his condolences to the family and said: “We all had a deep admiration for Liliane Betterncourt who has always watched over L’Oréal, the company and its employees, and who was very attached to its success and development.
After leaving the board of the French company in 2012, her public appearances reduced to a large extent, but grabbed headlines after members of her team were charged with exploiting her as her mental health deteriorated.
She had been under the guardianship of family members since the court fight, known as the “Bettencourt affair”, ended with a ruling in 2011 that she was incapable of looking after her fortune because she suffered from dementia and had been exploited.
The case – brought by her daughter Françoise and which soured relations between the two – centred on Francois-Marie Banier, a celebrity photographer who befriended Bettencourt in the 1980s and received lavish gifts from her, including life insurance policies worth $400 million.
According to a report, the French celebrity photographer was sentenced to two and a half years.
Another strand of the sprawling affair later led to allegations of illegal payments by Bettencourt to members of the French government associated with former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010. Sarkozy was eventually cleared in the case.
L’Oréal was founded by Bettencourt’s parents Louise Madelaine Berthe and Eugene Schueller. She was their only child and was born in Paris.
She lost her mother when she was just five-years-old and she joined the family business at the age of 15, before inheriting the L’Oréal empire when her father died in 1957.
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