Photographer cut out of L'Oreal heiress's will: lawyer

28th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Celebrity photographer Francois-Marie Banier is no longer beneficiary of the will of L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, France's richest woman, her lawyer said Saturday.

Georges Kiejman told AFP the change had been made in mid-July, and no-one else had been added to the will in his place.

Bettencourt had understood that "enough was enough", said Kiejman. Banier has received gifts worth nearly a billion euros from the 87-year-old over the years, sparking accusations from her daughter that he has abused their friendship.

Several judicial investigations are under way into affairs linked to Bettencourt's fortune, including allegations of tax evasion and illegal campaign funding that have implicated French Labour Minister Eric Woerth.

Bettencourt's estranged daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers alleges people close to her mother, including Banier, have taken advantage of the heiress, who she claims is no longer in a fit mental state to manage her 16-billion-euro (20-billion-dollar) fortune.

Dubbed "photographer to the stars" after shooting the likes of US actor Johnny Depp and Princess Caroline of Monaco, Banier became close friends with Bettencourt after meeting her at a dinner party in 1969.

Among gifts he received from her were masterpiece paintings including works by Matisse and Mondrian worth 15 million euros (20 million dollars), several cheques and life insurance policies, according to Bettencourt-Meyers.

Banier, 63, was Bettencourt's sole legatee in the will drawn up in December 2007, though her daughter still stands to inherit her 30 percent interest in the global cosmetics giant that lies behind her fortune.

© 2010 AFP

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