Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the heiress to the L’Oreal fortune, has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first woman to accumulate a fortune surpassing $100 billion.

This accomplishment places her at the 12th position on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, solidifying her status as one of the world’s wealthiest individuals.

The ascent of L’Oreal’s stock performance in the wake of the pandemic has contributed to this remarkable achievement, with the French beauty empire founded by her grandfather experiencing its most robust market performance in decades.

L’Oreal’s shares soared to unprecedented heights in the Paris stock market, marking a notable rebound in sales after the pandemic-induced lockdowns resulted in decreased usage of makeup by people staying at home.

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, aged 70, serves as the vice-chairperson of L’Oreal’s board, and her family holds the predominant stake of approximately 35% in the company, making them the largest shareholders.

This familial connection to the beauty empire was solidified when she assumed the role of the heiress following her mother Liliane Bettencourt’s passing in 2017.

The Bettencourt family’s association with L’Oréal has been marked by both prosperity and internal disputes.

Liliane Bettencourt, consistently recognized as France’s wealthiest individual, cultivated close relationships with French leaders and embraced the media spotlight.

However, her later years were marred by a public feud with her only child, Françoise. Accusations were made against a photographer and socialite for allegedly taking advantage of Liliane’s mental vulnerability. In a televised interview, Liliane expressed disappointment, stating, “My daughter could have waited patiently for my death instead of doing all she can to precipitate it.”

A significant turning point occurred in 2011 when a French court declared that Liliane suffered from a form of dementia.

Consequently, control over her wealth and income was granted to Françoise, with another family member entrusted with overseeing Liliane’s health and well-being.

This legal intervention underscored the complexities within the family and the challenges associated with immense wealth and its management.

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, in contrast to her mother’s more public persona, is known for prioritizing privacy over attending social events frequented by the global elite.

Described as living within her own cocoon, she devotes considerable time to playing the piano daily and has authored two books—a comprehensive five-volume study of the Bible and a genealogy of the Greek gods.

Tom Sancton, author of “The Bettencourt Affair,” sheds light on her reclusive nature, stating, “She really lives inside her own cocoon. She lives mainly within the confines of her own family.”

This portrayal emphasizes her preference for a more secluded existence, focused on personal pursuits and familial connections rather than the glitzy social circles often associated with extreme wealth.

As Françoise Bettencourt Meyers cements her position as the first woman to cross the $100 billion threshold, her journey is marked not only by financial success but also by navigating the complexities of family dynamics and the challenges that accompany immense wealth.

Last Updated: 29 December 2023