When befriending French aristocrats comes with a price tag.
It’s a tale worthy of intrigue, jealousy, high society and how one goes about grooming that love of high society at either great reward or in this instance great peril to themselves. As the rich will tell you, “…you can come and try to befriend us but when you try to take our money we will soon see you in court.” And court it is this September
The facts- Famed photographer/artist and friend to high society Francois Marie Banier has been awarded gifts and money to the tune of 1.3 billion euro (it includes a bevy of gifts, life insurance policies and art- all the fun things you too will one day get- in your dreams) by L’oreal dynasty matriarch 86 year old Liliane Bettencourt .
Sounds like Francois should be celebrating? Well actually no, because Liliane’s 56 year old daughter (who happens to have a 27 percent stake in the family business)- Francoise Bettencourt is not having anything to do with it, and with the help of private lawyers, the police and affidavits from Madame Bettencourt’s own accountant, doctor, butler and servers has amassed a case accusing Francois of financial manipulation of a frail elderly citizen.
Although Madame Bettencourt is worth at least 14 billion euro, the fact that Madame has chosen to give away such a large slice of the family fortune has disconcerted various members of society (particularly Madame’s daughter) and no amount of large sums of money is so easily going to be simply given away. To be sure Madame and daughter have only communicated twice to each other this year and only by offering pointed remarks in various publications.
For the longest time the doyen of society and much admired by the press (that Francois has spent as lifetime working for) Francois has suddenly found himself estranged by friends and the media, and facing the potential of swapping khaki shorts and the view of Mallorca beaches (where he has recently been hanging out coincidentally with Madame Bettencourt) for prison bleachers and dry biscuit for the next 3 years if found guilty.
Asked for comment, Madame fully asserts that she is in her right mind and is very happy to give the allotted sum to Francois. She also added that she was very much in gratitude to Francois’ ever moral (and physical ) presence upon the death of her late husband Andre Bettencourt in 2007 (a man whom along with Madame Francois had known for over 20 years).
Francois for his part feels very comfortable that he will prevail in court, despite the maids assertion that he had been pleading rather vigorously with Madame for her to adopt him. Indeed. An assertion that Francois vehemently denies.
In any event it’s off to the courts this September, where the town of Nantere (just outside of Paris where the trial will take place) will become a frothy media circus.
As we have reiterated you can try to befriend the rich, but watch out if you try to take their money.