Directed by Baptiste Etchegaray and Maxime Bonnet, The Billionaire, The Butler, and the Boyfriend is a three-part Netflix docu-series based on French socialite and principal shareholder of L’Oréal, Liliane Bettencourt. The docu-series focuses on a conflicting relationship between Liliane and her daughter, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, while also delving deeper into the significant scandals in Liliane’s life, raising questions about her moral compass. Being one of the richest personalities in the world, Liliane had many unexpected people come into her life. Each of them was after Liliane’s money, and as a result, she became manipulated in various ways.
What Was Liliane’s Relationship With Francois-Marie Banier?
Originally named Liliane Henriette Charlotte Schueller, she could be perceived as some who was born with a silver spoon. Her father, Eugene Schueller, was the founder of the famous beauty brand, L’Oréal. After losing her mother at a young age, Liliane went into business with her father. She was married to Andre Bettencourt, a French politician who led a French fascist party. In fact, Liliane’s father had anti-Semitic beliefs, which further influenced Liliane to some extent. Later, Liliane shifted to Neuilly, where she settled down with her husband in their big mansion called Art Moderne. However, despite being the wealthiest woman in the world, Liliane was not very happy in her married life. Over time, her distance from Andre grew, to the point that they reportedly slept in separate bedrooms. As a result, Liliane was really a lonely and vulnerable person who could easily be taken advantage of by outsiders.
One of those outsiders, Mr. Francois-Marie Banier, who was a celebrity photographer, befriended Liliane, and they became close friends in no time. François-Marie had a charming appearance, but he was a homosexual man. However, no matter what, Liliane enjoyed his company. She was affectionate and passionate about their friendship because, at the time she met Francois-Marie, she had already grown distant from her husband. So following André’s death, Francois-Marie became her mental and physical support. But Francois-Marie was solely after her riches. Through his affectionate behavior and manipulation, he was able to get his hands on expensive gifts and paintings worth almost a billion. It was later found that she was planning to make Banier her sole heir, even though her daughter was alive and well. This proved that there was never a healthy relationship between Liliane and Francoise. While Liliane was a classy lady who loved to show off her riches and attend high-class parties, Francoise was nothing like her. She was very introverted and distanced herself from the glam life. Probably this kind of difference pushed the mother and daughter apart from each other, causing a significant schism in their relationship.
What Happened To Liliane Bettencourt?
Due to the estrangement between Liliane and her daughter, Francoise never set foot in her mother’s home. But she needed to know what her mother was planning to do about her property. As she came to know that Liliane was about to adopt Francois-Marie as her heir, she decided to file a complaint against Francois-Marie. She accused him of abusing her mother to get a substantial amount of money from her.
Furthermore, in 2010, Liliane’s butler, Pascal Bonnefoy, cunningly planted a recorder under the tea tablecloth while he served tea and snacks for Liliane and her financial advisor, Patrice. For months, Pascal was able to record their conversations, which he later handed to the authorities. The authorities initially thought that these conversations would bring to light more details about Francois-Marie, but they revealed something else. From Liliane and Patrice’s conversations, the authorities learned about her tax evasion issues. Multiple times she had not paid her taxes and kept the money undeclared in her bank accounts in Switzerland. Not only that, but several political scandals, in which Liliane had a significant part, began to surface. Nicolas Sarkozy, who at the time was running a presidential campaign, had been allegedly receiving money from Liliane. Even French politician Eric Woerth was involved in it. Moreover, Liliane’s former accountant, Claire Thibout, testified that from Liliane’s mansion in Neuilly, these French politicians were receiving envelopes filled with money. But both Sarkozy and Woerth denied all the claims.
In the midst of all this, it was understandable that Liliane, who was aging and suffering from several health issues, was getting tired of the chaos in her life. Her entire life, she had been manipulated by people whom she trusted. Everyone surrounding her had maintained an affectionate relationship with her in order to get money. Therefore, in 2010, she reconciled with her daughter, who decided to close the case against her. Bettencourt even decided to leave Banier, removing his name from her will.
At the end of her life, Liliane started suffering from mental health issues. It is reported that she was suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt, appealed in court, informing the court about her mother’s deteriorating health condition and the fact that at this time she was unable to handle her property. Therefore, swiftly, the guardianship of Bettencourt’s property was handed over to Francoise Meyers, who now acquired the 33% stake in L’Oréal. Both she and her son had become board members of the beauty brand, rendering them the richest heirs in the world.
Liliane and Francoise never completely accepted each other. Their estrangement was an on-and-off issue, which is a significant tragedy in both of their lives. However, in 2017, Liliane Bettencourt, at the age of 94, lost her life, leaving Francoise as the richest heiress and a principal board member of L’Oréal. The cause of Liliane’s death had never been explained publicly, but as she was 94 years old, it was presumably a natural death.
Where Is Francoise Bettencourt Meyers Now?
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, whose entire life was spent in between the conflicts with her mother and a sense of jealousy against Francois-Marie, had finally triumphed in her journey. Being the only legal heir to the entire property, Francoise inherited all her mother’s wealth after her death. The richness not only flourished her life with luxury but also made her one of the richest and most influential individuals in the entire world. As of now, Francoise currently resides in a Urban Commune in France called Neuilly-sur-Seine. She has written several books on religious concepts like Judaism, Catholicism, etc. Speaking of her family, her husband, Jean-Pierre Meyers, is a respected member of the community and one of the board of directors of Nestlé. Together, the couple have two sons, and one of them, Jean-Victor, is on the board of directors of L’Oréal Paris. It can be said that, unlike her mother, Francoise has utilized her money for several other purposes. She has co-founded a charity and funded it for their research and projects in science and art.
Every family has its differences, conflicts, and separations. But when wealth becomes an important factor, what separates a mother from her daughter is definitely a concern. Differences in ideology led Liliane Bettencourt to keep her distance from her daughter, whom she always considered “one lap behind her,” so their differences and conflicts never actually ended for good. The Billionaire, The Butler, and the Boyfriend doesn’t only showcase Liliane’s life and how several people have taken advantage of her, but it also focuses on complicated human relationships by shedding light on the relationship between her and her daughter, which proves the point that wealth and the burden of social status can separate our loved ones from us.