Style & Beauty

L'Oreal Heiress Liliane Bettencourt Loses Control Of Her $23 Billion Fortune

A misbehaving L'Oreal heiress who allegedly mismanaged her family's money lost control of her fortune this week and was placed under a civil guardianship. Yawn, you say? What about this: the wild child in question is 89 years old.

French courts declared yesterday that Liliane Bettencourt, who at 89 is the richest woman in France, is too ill with dementia to control her family fortune and placed her under the guardianship of her 25-year-old grandson, Jean-Victor Meyers.

The money itself was placed under the watch of Meyers; Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, the daughter who's battling the elderly heiress in litigation; and a third grandson, as WWD reported. After mother and daughter declared a cease-fire ten months ago, the bitter battle resurfaced, culminating in Bettencourt's guardianship.

A very public legal battle has swirled around the L’Oreal fortune, estimated at around $23.5 billion, for years. Bettencourt-Meyers first argued that her mother was mentally unfit to manage the family’s wealth after celebrity photographer Francois-Marie Banier claimed to have received over 1 billion euros worth of gifts from the elderly heiress. FYI, any heiresses reading: we're not opposed to billion dollar gifts, either.

Claims also surfaced that Bettencourt made illegal donations to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign in 2007, though those claims have yet to be investigated.

L'Oreal is the world's biggest beauty company, and the Bettencourt family holds a whopping 31% of its shares.

Forbes earlier this year listed Bettencourt at number 15 on its Billionaires list, with her portion of the L'Oreal wealth totaling around $23.5 billion. Bettencourt was one of Bernie Madoff’s biggest victims, rumored to have lost close to 22 million euros in the investor’s Ponzi scheme.

The family feud won’t be slowing any time soon; if anything, Bettencourt is now more determined than ever to free her wealth from her daughter's control. She told a newspaper earlier this year that she would rather die or “go and live abroad” than be placed under the “suffocating” control of her daughter. Yikes. Bettencourt’s lawyer also stated that the ruling was “profoundly disappointing” and that Bettencourt is prepared to go through “nuclear war” with her daughter.

We're guessing the next family dinner is going to be a little awkward.

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