Paris: France`s richest woman has cut celebrity photographer Francois-Marie Banier out of her will, depriving him of an estimated 1.25 billion euros, in the latest twist in a family saga that has gripped France and
shaken the government.
"Liliane Bettencourt feels she had already given a lot to Mr Banier, so she ended the arrangement which made him her sole named heir," her lawyer Georges Kiejman told a news agency yesterday.
Liliane Bettencourt is the sole heir of L`Oreal, the global shampoo and beauty products company that her father founded.
The change was made in mid-July, and no one else had been added to the will in his place, said Kiejman.
Banier has received gifts worth nearly a billion euros from the 87-year-old L`Oreal heiress 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 USD 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.