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Top 4 Billionaires Living In France

Author: Andrew Smith

As of 2015, France was home to 43 of the world's billionaires. It is also fourth on the billionaire list in Europe, trailing Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom, and it claimed the world's wealthiest woman, 91-year old Liliane Bettencourt. The list of France's wealthiest residents is full of visionary entrepreneurs and plenty of luxury brand tycoons. Even the term "entrepreneur" is a French word that was directly incorporated into English in the 18th century.

France is the world's seventh-largest economy according to the purchasing power parity (PPP) index, and has long been considered one of the most culturally influential nations. High taxes have driven some wealth out of the country in the 21st century, but there are still plenty of billionaires to go around.

1. Liliane Bettencourt, $41.9 Billion Net Worth

As the matriarch of the L'Oreal empire, Bettencourt took back the top French spot from Bernard Arnault in 2015, thanks in large part to a 2014 deal with Nestle that raised her stake in the company to 33%. At 91, Madam Bettencourt is the wealthiest woman, and 10th-wealthiest individual, in the world.

Bettencourt inherited control of the L'Oreal brand from her father, Eugene Schueller, and maintained operational authority of the company until 2012. The past several years have posed their share of challenges for the French icon, including a protracted battle with her daughter Francoise Meyers and the alleged theft of millions of euros by several close confidants and employees; each of these challenges called into question Liliane Bettencourt's mental faculties.

2. Bernard Arnault, $37.2 Billion Net Worth

Bernard Jean Etienne Arnault is chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, better known as simply LVMH. The luxury goods tycoon controls more than 60 brands, including powerhouse names such as Bulgari, Sephora, Dom Perignon and Louis Vuitton.

Arnault came from a successful business family, but the visionary investor took that success to another stratosphere. In 1985, Arnault used $15 million worth of collateral from his relatively unknown construction firm to buy Christian Dior. After 30 years, that investment has turned into an international empire worth approximately 50 billion euros. The quintessential Frenchman is a noted art collector and cultural enthusiast. His personal collection includes pieces by Andy Warhol, Henry Moore and Picasso.

3. Patrick Drahi, $16.0 Billion Net Worth

An international man, Patrick Drahi actually resides in Geneva, Switzerland for most of the year and is a dual Israeli-French citizen. He heads Altice, a multinational telecommunications company located in Luxembourg. Born in Morocco, Drahi moved to Montpellier, France, at age 15 and received his engineering degree in Paris.

Drahi's rise among the French financial elite has been swift; his first international telecommunications company, i24news, was only founded in 2013. His business family group, Altice, entered the U.S. market in 2015 and increased Drahi's net worth by an estimated $6.3 billion almost overnight.

4. Serge Dassault, $15.3 Billion Net Worth

A 90-year old business executive and politician, Dassault is the son and heir of the Dassault Group empire and a member of the Union for a Popular Movement. His company works with military and business-grade aviation technology and is very active in the French media market.

Dassault has been heralded as a hero for refusing to help German aviation interests during Germany's occupation in World War II, for which he was jailed and sent to Buchenwald. He has often been a controversial figure in France, including an ousting from office in 2009 over a scandal involving cash gifts to voters. However, the Dassault Group has remained profitable through his stewardship and is one of the leading developers of space equipment in Belgium through SABCA.

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