Liliane Bettencourt, the world’s richest woman and heiress to the L’Oreal empire passed away in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine on Thursday, it has been reported. The socialite, businesswoman and philanthropist who was the cosmetics’ magnate principal shareholder was 94.
“Liliane Bettencourt died this night at home. She would have been 95 on October 21. My mother left peacefully,” said her daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers.
The Bettencourt family holds a massive 33% stake in L’Oreal, while Liliane Bettencourt’s net worth has been placed at around 44 billion dollars. Bettencourt’s daughter also stated: “I would like to reiterate, on behalf of our family, our entire commitment and loyalty to L’Oreal and to renew my confidence in its President Jean-Paul Agon and his teams worldwide.”
Recently, the company which was founded in 1909 has come under fire for its decision to fire a transgender model, Munroe Bergdorf, after her statement on social media that all white people are racists.
Liliane Bettencourt, who reportedly started her career in L’Oreal by mixing cosmetics and labelling bottles of shampoo aged fifteen hasn’t been a stranger to controversies in the past. In the 1970s, she sold 23% of L’Oreal to Swiss giants Nestle, afraid that a socialist French government may nationalize L’Oreal.
In 1950, she married French politician André Bettencourt, who served as a cabinet minister in French governments of the 1960s and 1970s and rose to become deputy chairman of L’Oréal. Mr. Bettencourt had been a member of La Cagoule, a violent French fascist pro-Nazi group that Liliane’s father, a Nazi sympathizer, had funded and supported in the 1930s
Since 2007, a number of controversies have surrounded Liliane and rumors abounded that she was being taken advantage of financially as she reportedly struggled with dementia. She gave a billion dollars worth of art and insurance to a celebrity photographer, and Patrice de Maistre, the man who managed her finances, was accused of funneling money to Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 Presidential campaign. The charges were later dropped, but the Bettencourt affair damaged Sarkozy’s credibility in the final half of his Presidency.