‪Liliane Bettencourt, L'Oréal heiress, dies at 94

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  Sept. 21, 2017 at 3:08 PM
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Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Liliane Bettencourt, the world's richest woman and heir to the L'Oréal fortune, died at her home near Paris, her daughter announced. She was 94.

Bettencourt's daughter, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, did not disclose the nature of her mother's death Wednesday, though the heiress had dementia and Alzheimer's disease, The Washington Post reported.

Though she lived in her own home in Neuilly-sur-Seine since 1951, Bettencourt had been under the guardianship of family since 2011.

Britain's The Guardian reported that Bettencourt's estimated net worth was $34.6 billion, though previously, when Forbes named her the richest woman in the world, her worth was closer to $45 billion.

Bettencourt's father, Eugene Schueller, founded L'Oréal and made his fortune by creating hair dye. His daughter inherited the company upon his death and it became one of France's largest cosmetics conglomerates.

Later run life, Bettencourt was the center of an illegal campaign donations scandal involving former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. She was accused of giving conservative politicians envelopes of cash, including one of about $170,000 for Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign. In France, it is illegal for individuals to donate more than about $5,400 to political campaigns.

The allegations stemmed from tapes made by Bettencourt's butler. The recordings appear to indicate the heiress, then 77, conspired with her financial adviser to avoid paying taxes on money in secret Swiss bank accounts. Allegations later surfaced that conservative French politicians received the cash-filled envelopes during visits to the Bettencourt estate.

In 2013, a judge dismissed corruption charges against Sarkozy for the so-called Bettencourt affair.

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