The world’s wealthiest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, has died, according to a statement from her daughter on Thursday. She was 94 and was the thirteenth richest person in the world at the time of her death, with a net worth that Forbes estimates at $44.7 billion.
“Liliane Bettencourt died last night at home,” her daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers wrote in a statement to the Guardian. “She died peacefully.”
Bettencourt owned 33% of makeup giant L’Oreal, which her father Eugene Schueller founded in 1907. Bettencourt was Schueller’s only daughter and sole heiress. She appeared on Forbes‘ first ever World’s Billionaires List in 1987 with a net worth of over $1 billion.
“We all had a great admiration for Liliane Bettencourt who always looked after L’Oreal, the company and its employees, and was very attached to its success and development,” Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L’Oreal, said in a statement. “She has personally contributed greatly to its success for many years.”
Bettencourt was famously press-shy, but her later years were mired by public court battles. In 2011, a court found Bettencourt, who had dementia, unfit to manage her affairs and placed her under the guardianship of her daughter and her grandsons. Her grandson Jean-Victor Meyers replaced her on the company’s board the next year. In May 2015, a French court found eight people, including a photographer and several former wealth managers, guilty of taking advantage of Bettencourt’s mental state and swindling her out of millions of euros.
Over Bettencourt’s lifetime, L’Oreal has grown into a global beauty giant, employing 89,300 people worldwide. The company had $28.58 billion in sales in 2016 and has 34 beauty brands in its portfolio, including Kiehl’s, IT Cosmetics and Maybelline. – Written by ,