Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress to the L’Oréal cosmetics dynasty that has made her the richest woman in the world, has died at the age of 94. Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, the only child of Liliane, confirmed her mother’s death in a statement to French media.
On Wednesday, Francoise Meyers said her mother died “peacefully” at her home in France overnight, according to NPR. Liliane’s death was also confirmed by Jean-Paul Agon, chairman and chief executive of the L’Oréal Group, on the company’s website.
Françoise Bettencourt Meyers and Jean-Paul Agon did not disclose the cause of Liliane Bettencourt’s death. However, Liliane Bettencourt had been reported to have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and had been under the guardianship of her family since 2011, according to the Washington Post.
In March, Forbes magazine ranked Bettencourt the world’s richest woman, putting her net worth at $39.5 billion. Since 1951, she had lived in an art moderne mansion in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Bettencourt and her family were the largest stakeholders of L’Oréal. The Bettencourt family owes 33.1 percent of the company, reports the Financial Times.
Eugene Schueller, Bettencourt’s father, founded L’Oréal in 1909. The chemist created and patented a hair dye that helped launch the company into an international multibillion-dollar powerhouse.
— CNN (@CNN) September 21, 2017
Schueller died in 1957 and left his daughter, Liliane, controlling interest in L’Oréal, reports the New York Times. In 2012, Bettencourt stepped down after serving as the director of the board where she was replaced by her then 25-year-old grandson, Jean-Victor Meyers.
Alongside L’Oréal chief François Dalle, she expanded the L’Oréal cosmetics dynasty.
Bettencourt and Dalle added cosmetics and fragrance lines, and acquired other beauty businesses, including Lancôme, Kiehl’s, Maybelline, and Garnier.
The international makeup powerhouse was worth an estimated $106.6 billion, as of August, 2015.
The heiress to the L’Oréal fortune has died at 94 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease https://t.co/eqglpzKjCj
— The Cut (@TheCut) September 21, 2017
In 2007, Bettencourt-Meyers filed a criminal suit against François-Marie Banier, her mother’s friend. She accused Banier of taking advantage of an elderly woman not in full control of her faculties.
For years, the L’Oréal matriarch and her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, communicated exclusively through television and newspaper interviews.
Bettencourt Affair: Employees Found Guilty Of Illegally Obtaining Over $1 Billion From Liliane Bettencourt
In May, 2015, eight employees (including Banier) were found guilty of swindling more than $1 billion from Bettencourt. Banier was then sentenced to three years in prison, which included a fine of $422,000 and damages of $178 million.
Several years earlier, Bettencourt told Paris Match magazine that she was aware of Banier’s controlling ways. However, she said she had no regrets about their friendship.
— Yahoo Canada Finance (@YahooFinanceCA) September 21, 2017
“I do not want to devalue the irresistible friendship we have had. It’s in the past… François-Marie is madly talented, but he is such a muddler. I couldn’t live with him for more than five minutes, but that muddle in our friendship brought me intense pleasure.”
The French heiress became embroiled in a family feud that exploded into a financial and political scandal involving former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the Washington Post.
Bettencourt was also known for her philanthropy, as she donated millions of dollars to education, museums, and medical research, reports the New York Times.
[Featured Image by Francois Durand/Getty Images]