How Patrice de Maistre made the Liliane Bettencourt scandal political

By Louie Fecou
Published: November 9, 2023 (Last updated: November 16, 2023)
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Patrice de Maistre, Liliane Bettencourt's former asset manager
Patrice de Maistre | Image via Netflix

The Billionaire, The Butler, and the Boyfriend has cast a spotlight on the incredible life of billionaire L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and the scandals that revolved around her. Considered to be the richest woman in the world at the time of her death, it was no surprise that she had an entourage surrounding her that led to her daughter battling to protect her mother’s interests, and her butler illegally recording conversations in an attempt to expose the inner circle of people around her that he suspected were extorting her of money and assets. One such person at the core of the story was her asset manager, Patrice de Maistre, who was managing her assets in entirely the wrong way.

Who is Patrice de Maistre?

Patrice was the former managing director of Tethys SAS, which was the holding company that was in control of the financial assets of Liliane. He was the wealth manager in charge of the billionaire’s dividends, whose fortune was over seventeen billion Euros.

His work in the world of finance would lead to him making some very influential friends, including ex-French PM Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-budget minister Eric Woerth.

It was through his work with Woerth that he would be inducted into the National Order of The Legion of Honour in 2007, however, it was heavily speculated that this was done as a favor to de Maistre after he gave a job to Woerth’s wife at the company Clymène, which handled part of Bettencourt’s fortune and was run by De Maistre as director general.

When Liliane’s daughter Francoise Bettencourt Meyers took society photographer François-Marie Banier to court over his “abuse of weakness” when it came to Liliane and the lavish gifts he was talking her into bestowing him, de Maistre was pulled into the scandal. His involvement was especially alarming due to his connections to Sarkozy.

Patrice de Maistre, Liliane Bettencourt's asset manager

From left to right: former UMP minister Eric Woerth, Liliane Bettencourt’s former wealth manager, Patrice de Maistre and the heiress’ ex-lawyer and agent, Pascal Wilhelm. (AFP/MEHDI FEDOUACH.)

What happened to Patrice de Maistre?

It would be the series of secret recordings of conversations between Liliane and her closest confidantes, made by her butler Pascal Bonnefoy, that would reveal alleged instances of tax evasion, and de Maistre encouraging his client to illegally finance the Presidential campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy.

The damning recordings would be used against him in the court appearances. His departure from Tethys was announced on 31 December 2010, and Patrice de Maistre was remanded in custody on Thursday, 22 March 2012.

By October 2019, he would make an agreement with the Bettencourt family regarding the money her was ordered to pay. The scandal also led to him being rejected by the Legion of Honour and The Order of Merit, with him being officially removed from the institutions on May 28th, 2015.

What was Patrice de Maistre’s sentence in court?

After the events covered by the documentary, de Maistre was sentenced to thirty months in jail, however, one year was suspended, and he was also fined a quarter of a million Euros. On top of this, he was ordered to reimburse Liliane Bettencourt a staggering twelve million Euros in damages.

de Maistre waived his right to an appeal by making an agreement with the Bettencourt family over the money he had been ordered to pay.

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