Cosmetics Heiress Loses Control of Her Fortune

Posted October 17th, 2011 at 2:45 pm (UTC-5)
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A French court has decided that one of the world’s richest women, cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt, is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and handed control of her business affairs to her daughter and two grandsons.

The 88-year-old Bettencourt, whose late father Eugene Schueller founded the giant L’Oreal cosmetics company, is reportedly worth more than $23 billion. Forbes magazine says that makes her the 15th richest person in the world, and the second richest woman, after Christy Walton, an heir to the Wal-Mart retail store fortune.

Bettencourt has been feuding for years with her only daughter and heir, Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt, over management of her fortune, which includes a 30 percent stake in L’Oreal. On Monday, a court outside Paris ruled that the elder Bettencourt is suffering from a form of dementia and “moderately severe” Alzheimer’s, the incurable, debilitating disease in which those afflicted with it lose their mental faculties.

Under the ruling, Bettencourt’s daughter and her two sons, Jean-Victor and Nicolas, will now control her business affairs.

The decision came a day after the elder Bettencourt told a French newspaper she would leave France if she were placed under her daughter’s care.