French businesswoman and billionaire Liliane Bettencourt, whose family founded L'Oreal and still owns the largest stake in the cosmetics giant, has died aged 94, her daughter said on Thursday. Reuters Jonah Green reports.
The billionaire heiress of French L'Oreal, Liliane Bettencourt, has died. Forbes ranked her as the world's richest woman with a net worth exceeding $40 billion thanks to her inheritance stake in the beauty and cosmetics giant founded by her father a century ago. But she had been under the guardianship of family members since a high profile court fight - known as the "Bettencourt affair" - ended with a ruling in 2011 that she wasn't able to look after her fortune due to dementia. The case dogged the heiress for years and centered on a celebrity photographer who befriended Bettencourt in the 1980s and received lavish gifts from her, including life insurance policies worth $400 million. Former President Nicholas Sarkozy was also included in a subsequent probe into whether he exploited Bettencourt's mental frailty to fund his 2007 election campaign. The court eventually dropped the inquiry and Sarkozy denied any wrongdoing. She died on Wednesday night. She was 94.