$24 Billion As of March 2012Source: L'Oreal, inheritedResidence: Paris, FranceMarital Status: Widow , Children: 1
French heiress, socialite, businesswoman and philanthropist, Liliane Bettencourt has a net worth of $24 billion as of March 2012, according to FORBES rich list. Bettencourt is currently the richest woman in Europe. The only child of the founder of L'Oréal, Eugene Schueller, she inherited the L'Oréal fortune when her father died, becoming the principal shareholder of L'Oréal in 1957. One of the world's largest cosmetics and beauty companies, L'Oréal has over 66,620 employees worldwide. She had her fortune placed under the guardianship of her daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers in 2011 following a very public 3-year legal battle. She was forced to resign from L'Oréal's board in February 2012; her 25-year-old grandson Jean- Victor Meyers took her seat. This is the latest in a long line of court cases pitting the Bettencourts against each other. In 2008, Bettencourt-Meyers petitioned the courts to investigate a reported $1 billion in cash and gifts her mother allegedly gave to Francois-Marie Banier, a well-known photographer, writer and painter whom she befriended. As a philanthropist her family foundation, la Fondation Bettencourt Schueller have support and develop medical, cultural and humanitarian projects with an annual budget of £160 million.