Wearing a sombre black dress and dark glasses, Francoise Bettencourt kept a low profile as she attended her mother Liliane’s funeral in Paris on Tuesday.
But she is about to take on the very public mantle of ‘world’s richest woman’ as she prepares to inherit the family’s £29billion fortune amassed from the L’Oreal cosmetics company.
It comes six years after she won a legal battle to have Liliane declared senile after arguing she was in denial about the extent of her dementia, giving her control over her mother’s assets and voting shares on the L’Oreal board.
Francoise Bettencourt attended mother Liliane’s funeral in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, on Tuesday afternoon after the L’Oreal heiress passed away aged 94 last week
Francoise, who was accompanied to the church by husband Jean-Pierre Meyers (right) is now set to become the world’s richest woman after inheriting her mother’s estimated £29billion fortune
While the exact cause of Liliane’s death was not given by her family, it was revealed she was suffering from dementia back in 2011 after Francoise had her declared senile and took control of her assets
Nicolas (left) and Jean-Victor Meyers, Francoise’s sons, attend the funeral of their grandmother flanked by security
Liliane Bettencourt died last week aged 94 at her home in Paris. A statement by the family at the time said she ‘left peacefully’, without giving an exact cause of death.
Francoise was chaperoned by her husband Jean-Pierre Meyers as she left the funeral on Tuesday, which was a quiet family affair held in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of the French capital.
Bettencourt, the cosmetics giant’s principal shareholder, was the 14th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine, which estimated her net worth in March at $39.5bn (£29.1bn).
She was rarely seen in public since leaving the L’Oreal board in 2012, but her name remained in the headlines as members of her entourage were charged with exploiting her failing mental health.
Bettencourt had been declared unfit to run her own affairs in 2011 after a medical report showing she had suffered from ‘mixed dementia’ and ‘moderately severe’ Alzheimer’s disease since 2006.
The complex legal case involved a bitter feud with her only daughter and unscrupulous friends, and even dragged in former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Patrice de Maistre, who managed Bettencourt’s vast fortune, was accused of getting her to hand over envelopes of cash to members of Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party during his 2007 presidential campaign.
While Liliane lived a private life, she befriended public figures including former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing (left), his wife Anemone (right) and the former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur (centre)
Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oreal’s chairman and CEO was accompanied to the funeral by French art historian Sophie Scheidecker (together left), where he spoke with former CEO Lindsay Owen-Jones (right)
Jean-Paul Agon is pictured with Paul Bulcke, chairman of Nestle, as they speak with an unidentified man outside the church in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris
Jean Veil (right), the son of French lawyer and politician Simone Veil, who once served as the President of Europe, was also present to pay his final respects to Liliane
Maryvonne Pinault, the wife of billionaire businessman and art collector Francois Pinault, leaves the church. Her husband was not pictured attending the ceremony
The charges against Sarkozy were dropped in October 2013 due to lack of evidence.
Bettencourt was born Liliane Schueller in Paris in 1922 to L’Oreal founder Eugene Schueller and Louise Madeleine Berthe – who died when Bettencourt was just five years old.
She started working for L’Oreal aged 15 as an apprentice labelling bottles of shampoo and rose through the ranks over the years.
She married French politician and future cabinet minister Andre Bettencourt in 1950, the couple remained together for 57 years during which time they had one daughter.
She inherited L’Oreal after her father died in 1957 and remained at the helm of the company for more than five decades.
In 1987 she set up the Bettencourt Schueller foundation along with her husband and daughter. The organisation is aimed at developing humanitarian projects.
A worker carries a floral arrangement out of the church. The ceremony was a low-key affair, attended largely by family and close friends of Liliane, who kept a low public profile
Guests speak with Francoise (standing, fourth from left with her back to the camera) following her mother’s funeral
Francoise and her mother pictured together in 2011, the same year she had the older woman declared senile after arguing in court that she was in denial about her dementia
Liliane was the 14th richest person in the world, and the world’s wealthiest woman, when she passed away last week