Liliane Bettencourt was a woman who lived a life many men and women can only dream of. She was a socialite and heiress as well as one of the principal shareholders of L’Oréal. As at the time of her death, Liliane was the richest woman in the world and since she is no more, that recognition has been passed over to her daughter who inherited all that she had.
Like it is said, Rome was not built in a day, applying this axiom to our subject in this article, we can all agree that she didn’t get to be at the center of attraction overnight while she lived. Find out below how Bettencourt grew from being an apprentice in her father’s business to the richest woman that have walked on our planet.
Who was Liliane Bettencourt of L’Oréal?
Liliane Bettencourt of L’Oréal was a French businesswoman born on the 21st of October 1922 in Paris, France. She was the only child of pianist Louise Madeleine Berthe (née Doncieux) and chemist Eugène Schueller who after her birth named her Liliane Henriette Charlotte Schueller. Tragedy, however, struck the Schuellers when Louise died when her daughter was just 5 years old.
As a result of her loss, little Liliane was then raised by her father who she grew to be closely attached to. For her education, her father employed the services of a British governess who tutored her up to her teen. At 15 years old, Charlotte began working as an apprentice in her father’s cosmetics company L’Oréal, her job role was mixing cosmetic ingredients and labelling their product bottles and shampoo. At this time, business was so good for L’Oréal, such that they were supplying their products to 17 countries all over the world.
As the years went by, Liliane Bettencourt kept on learning the secrets and trade patterns of the cosmetic business to the delight of her father. She rose through the ranks to emerge as the deputy chairman of L’Oréal in the early 50s but sadly, by 1957, her father kicked the bucket. Henriette thereafter inherited the company. In her stead, she piloted the cosmetics company to greater heights; embarked in an expansion strategy that saw her acquire the French luxury perfumes and cosmetics house – Lancôme, American cosmetics company Helena Rubinstein and mid-range to luxury fashion retailer Ralph Lauren.
In doing all these, L’Oréal grew bigger than it was and still had Liliane Bettencourt owning a majority of the company’s shares. In the year 1967, the cosmetic coy went public but it’s ownership still remained under Bettencourt. However, fearing that she might lose the company under the nationalization policy of the French government after their election, Liliane opted to exchange half of the company’s shares for a 3% stake in Swiss transnational food and drink company – Nestlé S.A.
She became a member of the Board of Directors in 1995 and worked as same till her grandson Jean-Victor was appointed to replace her on 13th February 2012. Her daughter (Françoise Bettencourt Meyers) and her husband (Jean-Pierre Meyers) all have seats as members of the Board of Directors of L’Oréal.
Her Husband, Daughter, and Grandsons
Taking a look at her family life, Liliane Henriette Charlotte Schueller got married to French politician André Bettencourt in the 1950s after which she began to go by Liliane Bettencourt. The couple became parents in 1953 to a baby girl Françoise Bettencourt, later Françoise Bettencourt Meyers. Lilliane’s husband who served as a member of the French government in the capacity of a cabinet minister in the 60s through the 70s went to be with his maker in the year 2007.
Their daughter grew and all the while actively participated in the affairs of L’Oréal. She got married to Jean-Pierre Meyers and together they had two sons – Jean-Victor Meyers and the younger Nicolas Meyers who is 2 years younger.
What was Her Net Worth Before Death?
While she lived, Liliane Bettencourt was the richest woman and the 14th richest person on earth. As per a Forbes report, she left a net worth of $44.7 Billion for her daughter when she died. She breathed her last on the 21st of September 2017 in her mansion located west of Paris after which her funeral held at Église Saint-Pierre in Neuilly-sur-Seine. Liliane’s daughter described her mother’s passing as “peaceful.”
It should be recalled that before her passing on to glory, the billionaire businesswoman got a lot of negative media attention following her relationship with photographer François-Marie Banier who was much younger than she was. This affair of hers as expected estranged her from her daughter. Liliane and François-Marie first met in 1987 after François was contracted to photograph her for the French magazine Egoïste.
They thereafter began their friendship which saw François heavily benefiting from the businesswoman. He reportedly received up to €1.3 billion in gifts from her and was even made a chief benefactor. This infuriated Françoise Bettencourt Meyers and just a month after the death of her father in 2007, she lodged a criminal complaint against François-Marie stating that the photographer exploited her mother’s psychological weakness for personal gain. A lengthy court case ensued but on December 6, 2010, it came to an end, being that the billionaire businesswoman – Liliane had separated with the photographer, reconciled with her daughter and subsequently struck off François-Marie’s name as one of her benefactors.