The Bettencourt Affair: The World's Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris by Tom Sancton

The Bettencourt Affair: The World's Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris

Was the world s wealthiest woman Liliane Bettencourt heir to an estimated thirty-six-billion-dollar L Oreal fortune, the victim of a con man? Or were her own family the real villains? This riveting narrative tells the real-life, shocking story behind the cause celebre that has captivated both France and the world. Liliane Bettencourt is the world s richest woman and the e...

Title:The Bettencourt Affair: The World's Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris
Author:
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ISBN:1101984473
Number of Pages:416 pages

The Bettencourt Affair: The World's Richest Woman and the Scandal That Rocked Paris Reviews

  • Billie

    Rich people. Their problems are really not "just like yours," but they are fascinating reading.

  • Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -

    The Bettencourt Affair is hard to give a star rating to. Like the French attitude that it mentions, it's hard to feel sympathy for the ultra-rich when there are so many people that live in poverty. On the other hand, the view into just how different the French justice system is from the U.S. was fascinating. Also, learning more about the WWII machinations of L'Oreal's founder, Eugène Schueller, was eye-opening and while I am all for the idea that the kids are not responsible for the parent's foi

    The Bettencourt Affair is hard to give a star rating to. Like the French attitude that it mentions, it's hard to feel sympathy for the ultra-rich when there are so many people that live in poverty. On the other hand, the view into just how different the French justice system is from the U.S. was fascinating. Also, learning more about the WWII machinations of L'Oreal's founder, Eugène Schueller, was eye-opening and while I am all for the idea that the kids are not responsible for the parent's foibles, I honestly don't think I will ever look at their products the same way again and already wasn't in the habit of buying them because there are other product lines that I like better.

    While not important to the case, I'm offended that Lillian just accepted her father's racism and still adored his memory, especially after her only child married a Jewish man. Call me crazy, but all of that money given to some useless gadfly could have done so much more trying to educate people of our terrible history of racism and attempt to open their hearts to all.

    Lastly, there is family strife and Alzheimer's. As Tolstoy said, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The person in my family that was the strongest, that we all respected, and looked to for direction was laid low by Alzheimer's. Lillian Bettencourt seems to have been an even powerful force now laid low by the same disease. While it seemed like money grubbing to many, I applaud her daughter for her years of work and court cases. I wish they could have found more common ground when they were both younger and it mattered, but in the end, her daughter was protecting her mom. I can't fault that.

    The book was ultimately readable and as I said, the wheels of French justice are so different from ours, that it was interesting. My only complaint is that there were a lot of players in this saga, however, Sancton did a really great job of keeping them all straight for his readers without being condescending or a creating a flowchart.

    In the end, there was a lot more to like than to dislike, so I gave it 4 stars. Most non-fiction isn't for every reader and this is true here, but that doesn't mean it is a "meh" book.

  • Nancy

    A Great Fortune, A Lonely Woman, A Con-man, and a Jealous Daughter

    Liliane Bettencourt, heir to the L’Oréal cosmetics fortune, is one of the world’s richest women. Married to Andre Bettencourt, a politican, Liliane became tired of her bourgeois life. She met and was attracted to Francois-Marie Banier. Banier was an artist and photographer and a member of artistic society that fascinated Liliane. Infatuated with him, she presented him with hundreds of millions of euros worth of real estate, painti

    A Great Fortune, A Lonely Woman, A Con-man, and a Jealous Daughter

    Liliane Bettencourt, heir to the L’Oréal cosmetics fortune, is one of the world’s richest women. Married to Andre Bettencourt, a politican, Liliane became tired of her bourgeois life. She met and was attracted to Francois-Marie Banier. Banier was an artist and photographer and a member of artistic society that fascinated Liliane. Infatuated with him, she presented him with hundreds of millions of euros worth of real estate, paintings, and cash. Andre didn’t complain about the money. He said it was her’s to do as she wished.

    Liliane’s daughter, Francoise, thought differently about Banier and the family fortune believing that he was taking advantage of her mother. She had not been particularly close to her mother, probably because Liliane was not a maternal person and was absent during the early years of Francoise’s life taking a tuberculosis cure, The rupture never healed. When Liliane started becoming confused. (She is presently suffering from Alzheimer’s.) Francoise filed a law suit against Banier.

    The lawsuit devolved into a major scandal involving corporate secrets, WWII relations with the Nazis, Swiss Bank accounts, and political payoffs.

    This is a fascinating book. The unusual characters, tangled emotions, and high level political maneuvering makes the book read more like fiction than history. The book is very well researched, going in depth on the background of the characters as well as the trial.

    For me, the book started rather slowly with the history of the L’Oréal Company founded by her father Charles Schueller, a brilliant chemist and business man. This history is important to the rest of the story, so it’s necessary in order to understand the later trial, but it did make the early chapters slow when you’re interested in the scandalous trial.

    I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

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