Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the heiress of the L’Oréal empire, has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first woman to accumulate a fortune surpassing $100 billion, according to the latest rankings of the world’s wealthiest individuals. The French beauty conglomerate, founded by her grandfather, is experiencing a remarkable surge in stock market performance, with L’Oréal shares reaching record highs in Paris.
The resurgence in L’Oréal’s sales comes on the heels of a post-pandemic recovery, as lockdown measures led to a decrease in makeup usage. At 70 years old, Ms. Bettencourt Meyers now holds the 12th position on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with her net worth surpassing the $100 billion mark. Despite this achievement, she remains behind French counterpart Bernard Arnault, the founder of LVMH, who holds the second position on the list with a net worth of $179 billion. LVMH stands as the world’s largest luxury group, boasting renowned brands such as Fendi and Louis Vuitton.
Ms. Bettencourt Meyers, serving as the vice-chairperson of L’Oréal’s board, leads the company alongside her family, who collectively hold the largest stake at approximately 35%. Following the death of her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, in 2017, Françoise became the primary heiress to the L’Oréal fortune. Liliane, once regularly hailed as France’s wealthiest individual, had maintained close ties with French leaders and was a fixture in the media.
The transition of power within the Bettencourt family was not without its challenges. Françoise engaged in a public dispute with her mother, accusing a photographer and socialite of taking advantage of Liliane’s mental frailty. This led to a legal ruling in 2011 that recognized Liliane’s form of dementia, granting Françoise control over her mother’s wealth and income, with another family member overseeing Liliane’s health and well-being.
Known for her preference for privacy over high-profile social events, Ms. Bettencourt Meyers spends much of her time immersed in her family and personal pursuits. She is an avid pianist, dedicating several hours a day to playing, and has authored two books—a comprehensive five-volume study of the Bible and a genealogy of the Greek gods.
As the L’Oréal heiress achieves unprecedented financial success, her story underscores not only the resilience of the beauty industry but also the intricate dynamics within one of the world’s wealthiest families.