It’s been more than 18 months since the daughter of France’s richest woman sued to protect her from a man described as a “dandy” who had received more than $1 billion (U.S. value) in gifts from the owner of cosmetic giant L’Oreal.
The daughter of 87-year-old Liliane Bettencourt sued Francois-Marie Banier, a 63-year old (male) celebrity photographer who reportedly has befriended Johnny Depp, Salvador Dali and others. Banier claims the lavish gifts of cash and art masterpieces were given to him by Bettencourt when she was mentally competent as a thank-you for his years of friendship and help as an advisor.
Bettencourt’s daughter, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, was permitted to sue Banier criminally last year. This means that if she wins her lawsuit, Banier will not only have to return the money, but also face jail time. The case was set for trial late last week.
There was already plenty of intrigue surrounding the famous fortune fight over the person who ranks as number 20 on Forbes’ annual list of richest people. (Bettencourt has a reported net worth of $20 billion.) But, to make it more interesting, the trial was postponed indefinitely because of new evidence.
What evidence you ask? Bettencourt’s butler had been sneaking a tape recorder into the room with her when he served refreshments. With this recorder, he obtained hours of audiotape from secret meetings between Bettencourt and her advisors.
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Trial Over L'Oreal Heiress Sparks French Political Scandal