How much sharper than a serpent’s dent

Liliane Bettencourt and François-Marie Banier

The NYTimes has been periodically covering the French scandal involving Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L’Oreal fortune and the richest woman in Europe, and her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers. And boy is it juicy!

Mme. Bettencourt-Meyers is alleging that her mother is surrounded by manipulative sycophants who are scheming to enrich themselves from the Bettencourt fortune.  One of the beneficiaries of Mme. Bettencourt’s largesse is “society photographer” François-Marie Banier who has received, among other things, an island in the Seychelles.  The daughter filed a lawsuit against her mother in 2007, attempting to wrest control of the family fortune from a mother she portrays as doddering and out of touch…  Sacre bleu!

And it gets better – the French Labor Minister has been forced to resign amidst allegations of nepotism, after his wife was hired to help manage Mme. Bettencourt’s money. There are also whispers that he overlooked Bettencourt tax obligations during his stint as budget minister in charge of tax collection.  Other accusations include the distribution of cash-stuffed envelopes to politicians who visited Mme. Bettencourt for tea.  Plus, an apparently disgruntled former butler for Mme. Bettencourt secretly recorded her having discussions that touched on tax havens, tax evasion and Swiss bank accounts.  Apparently a movie is already in the works…

But my favorite part thus far is Mme. Bettencourt’s comment during an interview on TV:

My daughter could have waited patiently for my death instead of doing all she can to precipitate it.

How do you say “Oh, snap!” in French?

French Heiress vs. Daughter and Political Intrigue

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