Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oreal heiress announced today she wants to emigrate after a judge ruled that she was “mentally unfit” to manage her over $20 billion fortune.
Liliane Bettencourt, 88, the France’s richest woman who inherited the L’Oreal cosmetics fortune, was told that she had dementia and Alzheimer’s and is no longer mentally fit to run her business affairs.
The L’Oreal heiress said she was fine, and accused her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers of plotting against her to try and wrestle control of the company.
Liliane Bettencourt, who turns 89 on Friday, is also suspicious of France’s judicial authorities who are investigating her for allegedly giving brown envelopes full of cash to leading politicians in return for tax breaks.
Among the politicians involved is said to be President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was once a regular visitor to Liliane Bettencourt household in Neuilly, the upmarket Paris suburb.
In a court in Courbevoie, Judge Stephanie Kass-Danno granted the controversial ruling following a petition by Francoise Bettencourt- Meyers.
Francoise Bettencourt- Meyers, 58, had argued that Liliane Bettencourt was being negatively influenced by members of her “entourage” to whom she kept handing out money.
Just before the judge’s decision, Liliane Bettencourt said: “If my daughter wins I will go abroad.”
Liliane Bettencourt also said that having her money put under the control of a daughter to whom she seldom speaks would be a “nightmare”.
The L’Oreal heiress also objected to another part of the ruling that states that she herself will be under the “guardianship” of her grandson, Jean-Victor Meyers.
The Bettencourt family war started in 2007, when Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers accused a photographer called Francois-Marie Banier of taking advantage of Liliane Bettencourt’s condition by persuading her to give him around $1.5 billion worth of artworks, insurance policies and cash.
The family war then turned into a political scandal after it was alleged that Liliane Bettencourt had effectively “bought” tax breaks from politicians like President Nicolas Sarkozy.
At that moment, a judicial enquiry has been opened into the so-called Bettencourt Affair, but it is unlikely to conclude before next year’s presidential elections.
According to Jean-Rene Farthouat, Liliane Bettencourt’s lawyer, today’s ruling was “contrary to good sense” and there would be an appeal.
Liliane Bettencourt is the daughter of Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal.
Bettencourt family owns a 31% stake in the company, worth over $20 billion.
Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers reassured investors that the decision to put Liliane Bettencourt under guardianship would not affect the company in any way.