FRANCE: An ostensible "divorce" results in a peace pact in L'oreal Family feud

A billionaire divorces her toy boy and wins her daughter back

Billionaire Liliane Bettencourt, head of cosmetics giant, L’Oreal (and France’s richest woman) and her daughter Francoise Bettencourt were in a bitter “custody” battle for years – but that has come to an end.

Francoise had petitioned the courts in Paris to have her mother adjudicated mentally incompetent, a move, which if successful, would have put the octogenarian billionaire in the custody of either the state or her daughter. The reason for this move by the younger Bettencourt is that her mother took to unleashing billions of dollars of the family fortune in cash on art and other goodies unto her strictly platonic gay boy toy named Francois – a photographer she’d befriended a few years back. This was billions of dollars in assets that were transferred, apparently from the L’Oreal accounts to this putative stranger for no apparent reason other than he happened to be friends with a very rich, old woman.

Francoise cried foul, as I would have, and went to court to get the matter dealt with. But it seems the case was resolved amicably and only because Francois (the toy boy) agreed to return all the loot and disappear out of Liliane’s life. Yahoo News:

L’Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt, 88, and her daughter Francoise Bettencourt Meyers have reconciled, Metzner said, adding, “We are bringing an end to all procedures given this familial reunion.”

The daughter had publicly accused photographer Francois-Marie Banierof abusing her mother’s alleged mental frailty and abusing her trust to bilk Liliane Bettencourt out of euro1 billion ($1.3 billion) in cash, artworks and other gifts. Banier, a longtime friend of Bettencourt’s, has insisted he did not take advantage of her, but the dispute prompted a string of legal cases.

Metzner said the photographer “has renounced many of the benefits he received. And we are renouncing any procedure regarding him.” The photographer’s lawyer confirmed an agreement was signed, but provided no details.

So, effectively, Liliane had to divorce her toy boy to appease her daughter, and divorce him she did. No further details of their actual “settlement agreement” have been disclosed to the press. But with this divorce behind them, it seems mother and daughter are now free to resume their “familial” relationship.