Published: Thu, September 21, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

L'Oreal heiress Lillian Bettencourt dies at 94

L'Oreal heiress Lillian Bettencourt dies at 94

French tycoon Liliane Bettencourt, the world's richest woman, sat atop the L'Oreal empire and ran a philanthropic foundation, but faced a hard old age clouded by dementia and legal drama.

She was the richest woman in the world, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated net worth of about $45 billion.

She left the company's board in 2012, but remained in the news after eight were found guilty of exploiting her health after a dementia diagnosis.

"We all had a deep admiration for Liliane Bettencourt, who always looked after L'Oréal - the company and its employees, and was dedicated to its success and development", said Jean-Paul Agon, L'Oreal's president.

Bettencourt's daughter, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, said in a written statement Thursday that her mother "left peacefully" overnight in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Bettencourt had been declared unfit to run her own affairs in 2011 after a medical report showing she had suffered from "mixed dementia" and "moderately severe" Alzheimer's disease since 2006.

Both her father and her husband Andre Bettencourt were accused of being ardent Nazi collaborators during World War II.

Bettencourt began working for her father's company at age 15 and inherited it in 1957, when after his death.

During her lifetime, the Paris-based company grew from a small hair-dye supplier into the largest maker of beauty products with more than 30 brands including Lancome and Garnier sold in about 140 countries.

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.

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