Liliane Bettencourt, the world’s richest woman, dies at 94

Liliane Bettencourt in 2005 (Getty Images)

Liliane Bettencourt, the world’s richest woman, has died, her family said Thursday.

Bettencourt, who was 94, was the heiress of the French cosmetics company L’Oreal. She was the daughter of the company’s founder, Eugène Schueller.

Both Forbes and the Bloomberg Billionaire Index considered Bettencourt the world’s richest woman. Her net worth was estimated at around $44 billion.

Bettencourt joined her father’s company at age 15 as an apprentice, and inherited his stake in 1957. She was actively involved in running the cosmetics giant, and served on the company’s board until 2012. She stepped down at 89, and was replaced by her grandson amid a bitter legal dispute with her daughter, who argued Bettencourt was not mentally competent to handle her own affairs.

The Bettencourt family currently owns 33% of the L’Oreal Group. The company owns brands like Lancome, Garnier and La Roche-Posay.

“We all had a deep admiration for Liliane Bettencourt, who always looked after L’Oréal — the company and its employees, and was dedicated to its success and development,” said Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oreal’s president.