Often when we talk about billionaires, we return to the same names: Musk. Murdoch. Zuckerberg. Etc. All of which can get a bit, well, predictable. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers’ story is different. For starters, the 70 year-old granddaughter of L’Oreal founder Eugène Schueller has just become the richest woman in the world – and the 13th richest person overall – according to this year’s Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The story of how she got there could make a movie. Nazis, contentious court cases and books on everything from Catholicism to Greek mythology all play a part. Ready? Then this is how Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, became the richest woman in the world.
Let’s start with Eugène Schueller, the pharmacist who founded the company that would become L’Oreal in 1909 after developing his own hair colour formula in Paris. Schueller saw massive success in his life, but after his death in 1957 the company continued to grow exponentially; as of 2021 employed an estimated 85,252 chemists worldwide with revenue of €38.26 billion in 2022. Today, the company owns popular brands including Maybelline, Garnier, Lancôme, and Kiehl’s.Schueller’s daughter Liliane (Bettencourt Meyers’ mother) took over upon her father’s death and became known for throwing glamourous parties with her husband, the French politician André Bettencourt.
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