Françoise Bettencourt Meyer: L’Oréal heiress first woman to amass $100bn fortune

L'Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers.
Image caption,L’Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers

By Annabelle Liang

Business reporter

L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers has become the first woman to amass a $100bn (£78.5bn; €90.1bn) fortune, according to a ranking of the richest people in the world.

The French beauty empire founded by her grandfather is on track for its best stock market performance in decades.

L’Oréal shares rose to a record high in Paris on Thursday.

The firm has seen its sales rebound after the pandemic, when people under lockdown used less makeup.

The net worth of Ms Bettencourt Meyers, aged 70, crossed $100bn on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making her the 12th richest person in the world.

She is still a distance away from French counterpart Bernard Arnault, who was second on the list with a net worth of $179bn. Mr Arnault is the founder of LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury group, which owns a portfolio of high-end brands including Fendi and Louis Vuitton.

L’Oréal did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment.

Ms Bettencourt Meyers is the vice-chairperson of the company’s board. She and her family are the single biggest shareholders of L’Oréal with a stake of around 35%.

She became the reigning heiress of L’Oréal after her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, died in 2017.

Liliane, who was regularly named France’s richest person, had maintained close ties with French leaders and embraced the media limelight.

During her later years, she was embroiled in a public fight with Françoise, her only child, who had accused a photographer and socialite of taking advantage of her mother’s mental frailty.

“My daughter could have waited patiently for my death instead of doing all she can to precipitate it,” she said in a TV interview.

In 2011, a French court ruled that Liliane had a form of dementia, and awarded Françoise control over her wealth and income. Another family member was tasked to look after Liliane’s health and physical well-being.

Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers and her mother Liliane Bettencourt at a fashion show in 2012.
Image caption,Liliane Bettencourt and her daughter Francoise Bettencourt Meyers in 2012

Ms Bettencourt Meyers is said to favour privacy over attending social events frequented by many of the world’s wealthy.

She is known to play the piano for several hours a day and has written two books – a five-volume study of the Bible and a genealogy of the Greek gods.

“She really lives inside her own cocoon. She lives mainly within the confines of her own family,” said Tom Sancton, who authored the book The Bettencourt Affair.

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