World's richest woman and L'Oreal heiress dies at 94

Mrs Bettencourt was 94
Credit
PATRICK KOVARIK  AFP  Getty Images

Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress to cosmetics firm L'Oreal, has died aged 94, her family has confirmed.

Bettencourt is survived by her daughter, Francoise, who was born in 1953.

Schueller, the son of bakers from the eastern Alsace region, initially named his company Aureale, but changed it to L'Oreal in 1939.

The heiress began working for the family business at 15 labelling bottles of shampoo.

A statement said she died at home "peacefully" overnight.

Bettencourt long enjoyed the company of artists, and her Bettencourt-Schueller foundation funded a range of films and art projects over the years, in addition to medical research and literacy projects.

It was after her husband's death in 2007 that the heiress' own life took centre stage.

Francois-Marie Banier, of manipulating the elderly widow into giving him artwork and cash. Mr Banier denied wrongdoing.




Bettencourt married French politician and future cabinet minister Andre Bettencourt in 1950 and they remained married for 57 years.

Sarkozy's former campaign treasurer, Eric Woerth, was acquitted on charges of "abuse of weakness" and taking donations from Bettencourt during the 2007 presidential election campaign.

In October 2011, a court ruled Ms Bettencourt was suffering from a form of dementia, and awarded the daughter control over her mother's wealth and income - then estimated at $26 billion and including about 33 per cent of L'Oreal.

Both Forbes and the Bloomberg Billionaire Index considered Bettencourt the world's richest woman.

Grandson Jean-Victor Meyers was designated to look after her health and physical well-being.

In 2008 Bettencourt-Meyers, who is on the L'Oreal board, filed a lawsuit against her mother over funds the magnate had given to a celebrity photographer and confidant.

"My daughter could have waited patiently for my death instead of doing all she can to precipitate it", Mrs Bettencourt said in a TV interview recorded in her later years.

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