Liliane Bettencourt (Liliane Bettencourt) – French entrepreneur and philanthropist, in the past she was also known as a socialite. Bettencourt is a co-owner of the L’Orеal company founded by her father in 1909. With a fortune of $ 37.6 billion (January 2017), she is the richest woman in the world.
Place of Birth. Education. Bettencourt was born in Paris on October 21, 1922, the only child of Eugene Schüller, founder of L’Oréal, one of the largest cosmetics companies. Her mother died in 1927 when Lillian was 5 years old, and she became very close to her father, who never married. At the age of 15, she began working for her father’s company as an apprentice.
Business. In 1957, Liliane Bettencourt inherited L’Orеal after her father’s death, becoming the main shareholder of the company. In 1963, the company went public, although Bettencourt retained a majority stake. In 1974, she traded nearly half of her stake for a three percent stake in Nestlé.
As at 31 December 2009, Bettencourt owned 185,661,879 (31.0%) of the outstanding shares of L’Oreal (of which 76,440,541 (12.76%) were held in trust by a daughter), and the rest is determined as follows: 178,381,021 (29.78%) shares of Nestlе, 216,384,762 (36.12%) public shares, and the rest are held as treasury shares or in the company’s savings plan. The Bettencourt family and Nestlé act in concert in accordance with the shareholders’ agreement. Bettencourt has been a member of the L’Oreal board of directors since 1995. The daughter and husband of the daughter (Jean-Pierre Myers) are also members of the board of directors.
Charity… In 1987, Liliane Bettencourt, together with her husband and daughter, founded the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation (la Fondation Bettencourt Schueller) to support and develop medical, cultural and humanitarian projects. The foundation is based in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.
The foundation, which has an annual budget of £ 160 million, devotes about 55% of its funds to research and education, 33% to humanitarian and social projects, and 12% to culture and arts. The Foundation sponsors awards for scientists in various fields. For example, the Life Science Prize is an annual award for leading European biomedical researchers under the age of 45. Winners receive € 250,000 to support research projects.
The Foundation recently funded the construction of a new wing at the Marmottan Monet Museum.
“The Bettencourt Case”… Bettencourt is believed to have met François-Marie Bagnier, a French writer, painter and celebrity photographer, in 1987 when he photographed her for the French magazine Égoiste. Later Banier and Bettencourt became friends, and she became his main benefactor – the total value of her gifts was € 1.3. Among these gifts – a life insurance policy in the amount of € 253 million in 2003 and another policy for € 262 million in 2006, 11 works of art (in 2001), including paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Delaunay and Léger, photography surrealist Man Ray and money.
In December 2007, just a month after the death of her father, Françoise Bettencourt Myers filed a lawsuit against Magnier, accusing him of abus de faiblesse (exploiting physical or psychological weakness for personal gain). As a result, an investigation was organized; after questioning Bettencourt’s staff, the case was brought to trial in September 2009. In December 2009, the court postponed the decision in this case until April 2010 (later – until July 2010) pending the receipt of the results of medical evidence of Bettencourt’s mental state. Bettencourt refused to pass the test. On December 7, 2010, Lilianne Bettencourt and her daughter announced their reconciliation to the press.
Since October 2011, Liliane Bettencourt has been under the care of her daughter. In January 2012, the Versailles Court of Appeal upheld the decision that Lilianne Bettencourt would be in the care of her daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers and her two grandchildren, Nicholas and Jean-Victor.
Political scandal. In July 2010, Bettencourt was embroiled in a political scandal after tapes were made available to the general public, allegedly recording a conversation between Bettencourt and her financial advisor. From this audio recording, it appears that Bettencourt may have evaded taxes by keeping a significant amount of money in hidden Swiss bank accounts. Another taped was a supposed conversation between Bettencourt and Eric Werth, who demanded work for his wife while he served as minister and spearheaded high-profile campaigns to capture large-scale tax evaders. In addition, Bettencourt received a tax credit of € 30 million during Werth’s tenure as minister.
In June 2010, the scandal took on even greater proportions after Bettencourt’s former accountant, Claire Tribu, admitted in an interview with Mediapart that French conservative politicians received money in envelopes at the Bettencourt mansion. She claimed that Werth, acting as treasurer of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), received an envelope with € 150,000 in cash in March 2007. According to Tribu, Sarkozy himself was a frequent visitor to Bettencourt’s house during his time as mayor. Neuilly-sur-Seine from 1983 to 2002, and also received envelopes with cash. A few days later, Claire complained about pressure from the French police, which demanded that she withdraw her testimony against Sarkozy. Sarkozy and Werth deny the charges. Following these allegations, French police raided the home and office of de Maistre, head of the company that manages Bettencourt’s revenues.
State. For many years, Liliane Bettencourt has been a regular participant in the Forbes magazine’s list of the richest people in the world. She is the richest woman in Europe. Among the French, Lilian is second only to Bernard Arnault in wealth. Bettencourt’s personal capital in recent years has been in a fairly stable state and ranges from $ 36 to $ 40 billion.
In the 2015 Forbes list, Liliane Bettencourt ranked 10th with a capital of $ 40.1 billion.
In the Forbes 2016 ranking, Bettencourt dropped 1 position and took 11th place with a capital of $ 36.7 billion.
According to preliminary estimates, at the beginning of 2017, despite capital gains, Bettencourt lowered her position in the ranking and in January 2017 occupied the 14th line of the list (capital of $ 37.6 billion).
Family. In 1950, she married the French politician André Bettencourt, who served as a minister in the 1960s and became L’Oréal’s deputy chairman in the 70s. Bettencourt was a member of La Cagoule, a French fascist group that Lilian’s father funded and supported in the 1930s by collaborating with the Nazis during World War II. After the war, her husband, like the other members of La Cagoule, was granted refuge in L’Oréal, where he was able to get rid of the traces of his past. Eventually, the young Bettencourt family settled in a mansion built in 1951. On July 10, 1953, their only daughter, Françoise, was born. November 19, 2007 André Bettencourt died.
Death. On September 21, 2017, Liliane Bettencourt passed away in France at the age of 94.