The Billion Dollar Question


My parent + billions of dollars: if these words find themselves in the same sentence consider yourself lucky. That is unless your last name is Madoff or Bettencourt.

Liliane Bettencourt may not have a sum of 50 billion tied to her name like Bernard Madoff, but she does have 30 percent ownership of the cosmetic line L’Oréal. She is the granddaughter of L’Oréal’s founder, Eugene Schueller, and reported to be the richest woman in France. Turns out that, Bettencourt’s daughter, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, may not be the only one next in line to profit from the makeup brand’s success.

As reported in WWD, Bettencourt’s daughter recently filed a complaint against photographer François-Marie Banier, whom she believes is taking advantage of her mother. Bettencourt has given Banier, who recently photographed Diane von Furstenberg’s advertising campaign featuring Natalia Vodianova, over 1 billion dollars worth of gifts, including a couple Picassos, and has come to treat him like her son.

Meyers is said to have lodged a complaint against Banier for “exploitation of weakness,” despite her mother showing no signs of lost lucidity. Lost lucidity or not, I can’t help but wonder if Bettencourt is looking for other creative types to adopt. Say, a young fashion editor far from home, in need of a warm meal and something for the walls of her barren apartment.