Liliane Bettencourt’s Convicted Friend Appealed His Prison Sentence

A new Netflix doc revisits her headline-making friendship with François-Marie Banier.

Francois-Marie Banier in 2022. Photo via Getty Images

L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt was the richest woman in the world, with a net worth of nearly $45 billion by the time she died in 2017, per Vanity Fair. But in Bettencourt’s final years, that wealth (and whom she shared it with) became the subject of a controversy now revisited in the Netflix docuseries The Billionaire, The Butler, and the Boyfriend.

Much of the scandal revolves around François-Marie Banier, a high-profile photographer and Bettencourt’s close friend — who, by the end of their time together, would be convicted of “abus de faiblesse,” a French term for abuse of weakness.

So, where is Banier today? Here’s a look at what happened since the events of The Billionaire, The Butler, and the Boyfriend.

Bettencourt & Banier’s Friendship

Bettencourt’s daughter, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, filed a criminal complaint against Banier in 2007 for allegedly exploiting the then-85 year old woman — who had Alzheimer’s disease, according to The New York Times.

“[Banier’s] objective is clear: break away my mother from our family to profit from her,” Bettencourt-Meyers told Le Point (via the Times).


However, Banier told the outlet that he and Bettencourt’s friendship went way back. “I have never sought to influence Madame Bettencourt for my gain or in favor of others who benefited from her generosity,” he told the outlet, chalking up the complaint to a “mother-daughter conflict.”

Secret Revelations

According to The New York Times, Banier received nearly $2 billion in gifts: ranging from Picasso and Matisse paintings to life insurance policies and his own private island.

Simply receiving gifts wouldn’t necessarily amount to abus de faiblesse. But between 2009 and 2010, Bettencourt’s butler, Pascal Bonnefoy, secretly recorded conversations among his employer and her entourage.

In one such conversation, the Times reports, Bettencourt reportedly expressed confusion that she’d wanted to give Banier an island in the first place. “Later, Mrs. Bettencourt frets that Mr. Banier had grown demanding, asking her to ‘give me this, give me that,’” the outlet continues.

Liliane Bettencourt with François-Marie Banier in 1992.Eric Robert/Sygma/Getty Images

Banier’s Aftermath

The recordings were used in the case against Banier, and he was convicted of abus de faiblesse and money laundering.

Though he was sentenced to three years in prison, Banier appealed and ultimately avoided serving time. He also was not made to pay 158 million euros, or $173 million, in damages to the Bettencourt family.

Today, 76-year-old Banier is still a working artist. Most recently, he held an exhibit, Writings & Pictures, at New York City’s Miguel Abreu Gallery. He lives and works in Paris, per his artist bio.