December 5, 2020

A Look Inside the Bettencourt Affair

Liliane Bettencourt, 94, is, according to Forbes magazine, the richest woman in the world — a title she alternates with Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton — and for many years, she seemed to have it all. She was beautiful, stylish, bright, and she had inherited a massive fortune derived from the hair care and cosmetics giant L’Oréal.
Her father, Eugène Schueller, had founded the company with hair color, and she was an only child. Liliane played an important symbolic and administrative role in the company, although she never attended college and was not in line to officially head the company. She was married to the late politician André Bettencourt. With a current estimated net worth of $36 billion, her financial resources seemed endless.

Liliane Bettencourt

After leading a relatively conventional — albeit very privileged — life for many years, Bettencourt took up with a much younger man, Francois-Marie Banier, a flamboyant writer and photographer whose patron she became. Tom Sancton in a new book, “The Bettencourt Affair: The World’s Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris” (Dutton), quotes Bettencourt’s former lawyer Georges Kiejman as saying, “Liliane was rich, she was beautiful and she was bored to death.”
“Brash, provocative, iconoclastic, he had none of

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