For the third year in a row, French heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers retains the title of the richest woman in the world, with an estimated net worth of $80.5 billion United States dollars, $5.7 billion more than last year. French heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers (currently 69 years old) ranks as the planet’s 11th wealthiest person overall according to Forbes magazine, up from No. 14 last year. She’s one of just 337 women on the 2023 Forbes World’s Billionaires list, who make up only 13% of the planet’s 2,640 billionaires according to Forbes.
The majority Françoise Bettencourt Meyer’s wealth comes from her stake in the beauty and hair conglomerate, the L’Oréal Group. The company, founded more than 100 years ago by Françoise Bettencourt Meyers’ grandfather Eugène Paul Louis Schueller (a French pharmacist and entrepreneur), brought in revenue of $38.2 billion in 2022 and employs more than 85,000 people around the world. L’Oréal’s stock rose by 12% over the past year thanks to strong demand for beauty and cosmetic products that led to better than expected earnings and record sales for 2021.
French billionaire Françoise Bettencourt Meyers controls around 33% of L’Oréal along with her family. She inherited her L’Oreal shares and the title of the richest woman in the world from her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, who passed away in 2017. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers made her debut on the billionaires list in 2018 as the richest newcomer, then worth only $42.2 billion United States dollars according to Forbes.
A French citizen, billionaire Françoise Bettencourt Meyers has served on L’Oréal’s board of directors since 1997. Her two sons, Jean-Victor and Nicolas, also sit on the board of directors (the board of directors control L’Oréal because they are in charge of hiring and firing the President and Chief Executive Officer of the company).
Françoise Bettencourt Meyers’ rise to fame as the world’s richest woman did not come without turmoil. In particular, a French scandal around a sensational trial involving billions of dollars and a public mother and daughter legal battle. In 2007, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers sued François Marie Banier—a long time family friend and celebrity photographer—for allegedly swindling more than $1 billion in art, cash, real estate, and other gifts from her mother Liliane Bettencourt. He was convicted, sentenced to three years in jail, and forced to pay around $150 million in damages. However, both sentences were reversed a few years later, and what ensued were years of public commentary from her mother and another legal scandal alleging a witness had been bribed. In 2011, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers was appointed by a court as her mother’s legal guardian after the late heiress was found to have an advanced state of Alzheimer’s.
Since taking her mother’s spot on the list, French billionaire Françoise Bettencourt Meyers has continued to grow the family fortune. She is chairwoman of the family holding company, Téthys Invest, through which she has backed numerous projects, including French private hospitals operator Elsan. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers has also made very large philanthropic contributions in order to make the world a better place. Along with L’Oréal, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers pledged $230 million for Notre-Dame Cathedral’s reconstruction in 2019. She is also the president of the family’s foundation, Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, which encourages French progress in the sciences and the arts.
L’Oréal’s brands include some of the leading beauty, skincare, and makeup products in the world, from L’Oréal Paris and Lancôme to Maybelline and La Roche-Posay.
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