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She Just Became the First $100 Billion Woman in the World — But She Still Lags Behind the Richest Men L'Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers hits a stunning milestone.

By Jonathan Small

Key Takeaways

  • Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is the first woman to build a $100 billion fortune.
  • She is 12th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
  • The heiress is not your typical $100 billionaire.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers was already the richest woman in the world, but on Thursday, she hit a new milestone—the first female to accumulate a staggering fortune of over $100 billion ($100.2 billion, to be exact), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of L'Oreal founder Eugène Schueller, is the vice-chair of L'Oréal's board and, alongside her family, is the prime stakeholder with approximately 35% of its shares.

Her spike in wealth came as L'Oréal SA stocks reached unparalleled heights, positioning the company to have one of its most successful years in over two decades.

Although Bettencourt Meyers has surpassed other female billionaires, she still isn't one of the top 10 richest people in the world. She isn't even the wealthiest woman in France. At number 12, she trails behind her compatriot Bernard Arnault. The iconic figure behind LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE is second on the Billionaire's Index with a fortune of $179.4 billion. Elon Musk holds a comfortable lead at $238 billion.

Related: Meet the World's Secretive Billionaires Who Give Stealth Wealth a Whole New Meaning, from Ike Perlmutter to Philip Anschutz

Not your typical $100 billionheiress

Unlike other billionaires who are known for their oversized personalities and opulent lifestyles, Bettencourt Meyers, 70, is much more private and introverted—some may even consider her a recluse. She has written two books, one on the Bible and the other on Greek mythology. She is also a passionate pianist, known to practice for hours a day.

But despite trying to stay out of the spotlight, Bettencourt Meyers made headlines for almost a decade fighting in court over some of her inheritance. As recounted in the 2017 Netflix documentary 'L'Affaire Bettencourt,' her mother, Lilian, plagued by Alzheimer's disease, wanted to give a billion dollars in cash, real estate, and art to François-Marie Banier, an artist, photographer, and friend. But Bettencourt Meyers sued him after her mom's death. He was ultimately convicted of abuse.

Related: An Hermès Heir Wants to Give Half His $12 Billion Fortune to His Gardener—and Lawyers Are Going Nuts

Continuing a French tradition

Founded in 1909 by chemist Schueller, L'Oreal is now a $268 billion company. The company is part of a French tradition of hugely successful luxury goods behemoths. Aside from L'Oréal and LVMH, the European nation has also given rise to other wealthy families, such as the proprietors of Hermès International SCA and the Wertheimers, who own Chanel.

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Founder, Write About Now Media

Jonathan Small is an award-winning author, journalist, producer, and podcast host. For 25 years, he has worked as a sought-after storyteller for top media companies such as The New York Times, Hearst, Entrepreneur, and Condé Nast. He has held executive roles at Glamour, Fitness, and Entrepreneur and regularly contributes to The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, Maxim, and Good Housekeeping. He is the former “Jake” advice columnist for Glamour magazine and the “Guy Guru” at Cosmo.

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