The L’Oréal heiress and businesswoman, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, has become the first woman to amass a fortune of $100bn.
Bettencourt Meyers, who is French, broke through the barrier on Thursday thanks to a rise in the share price of the cosmetics empire she inherited from her mother, who also held the title of the world’s richest woman until her death in 2017.
L’Oréal was founded in 1909 by Eugène Schueller, Bettencourt Meyers’s grandfather, to manufacture and market a hair dye he had invented.
Based in the north-western Parisian suburb of Clichy, in the region of Hauts-de-Seine, it has grown into a globe-straddling colossus valued at €241bn (£209bn) on the Paris stock exchange.
Celebrities and supermodels such as Cindy Crawford, Beyoncé and Pénelope Cruz have helped advertise the brand, often using its slogan: “Because I’m worth it.”
The famously reclusive Bettencourt Meyers, 70, and her family, remain the largest shareholders with a stake of nearly 35%, the value of which has helped her wealth balloon by $28.6bn this year to reach $100bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Bettencourt Meyers was far from alone in growing richer during a year in which the fortunes of billionaires generally increased significantly, even as the cost of living crisis affected countries across the world.
Of the world’s 50 richest people, 12 lost money in 2023 while the remainder watched their piles grow, albeit without adjusting for inflation. Of the top 500, 77% grew richer, some by almost unimaginable sums.
In a list dominated by men, mostly from the US, Bettencourt Meyers remains 12th in a ranking topped by Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX founder.
The South African born space enthusiast is worth $232bn after the soaring share price of his electric car empire offset a slump in the value of X since he bought it.
Bettencourt Meyers was not the highest-placed French person. Bernard Arnault, the luxury goods tycoon, has a $179bn fortune that has grown by $16.9bn in 2023, thanks to the performance of his LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) group.