Bernard Tapie

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Bernard Tapie
Bernard Tapie 2010 cropped.JPG
Born (1943-01-26) 26 January 1943 (age 71)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Occupation Businessman, politician

Bernard Tapie (French pronunciation: ​[bɛʁnaːʁ tapi]; born 26 January 1943) is a French businessman, politician and occasional actor, singer, and TV host. He was Ministre de la Ville (Minister of City Affairs) in the government of Pierre Bérégovoy.

Life and career[edit]

Tapie was born in Paris. He is a businessman specializing in recovery for bankrupted companies, among which Adidas is the most famous (he owned Adidas from 1990 to 1993); and owner of sports teams (his cycling team won the Tour de France twice and his football club the French championship four times in a row, and the Champions League in 1993).

La Vie Claire, one of Tapie's former businesses, is a chain of health product stores. It sponsored one of the strongest cycling teams of all time called La Vie Claire. It was founded after the 1983 season when multiple Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault broke from the Renault-Elf team that featured another Tour winner in Laurent Fignon after a falling-out with team manager, Cyrille Guimard. Following Hinault to the new team was Greg LeMond, who would go on to win three Tours himself. Both Hinault and LeMond would win Tours with the La Vie Claire team.

From 1986 to 1994, he was president of the Olympique de Marseille football club, which became Champion of France and won the Champions League. In May 1992, he was forced to resign of his function as Minister of City, by the Prime minister Pierre Bérégovoy, who thus established the misnamed "Balladur jurisprudence," according to which an indicted member of the government should resign.[1]

On 30 September 2011, it was disclosed Tapie had agreed to buy Full Tilt Poker and its assets despite its legal troubles in the United States and the revocation of its gambling license.[2] That deal fell through in April 2012.[3]

Legal difficulties[edit]

In 1993, the same year that Olympique de Marseille won the Champions League, he was accused of fixing the match between his club and minor club Valenciennes; the motivation seemed to be that, in this way, he could save his best players for important matches and not waste their energy. His club was stripped of its French league championship, though not of the Champions League title, and later suffered a forced relegation to the second division because of financial irregularities widely blamed on Tapie.

In 1994, Tapie was put under criminal investigation for complicity of corruption and subornation of witnesses. After a high profile case against public prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier, he was sentenced in 1995 by the Court of Appeals of Douai to 2 years in prison, including 8 months non-suspended and 3 years of deprivation of his civic rights. He was incarcerated for about 6 months in 1997. He sold his boat Club Med 2 to Club Méditerranée.

Tapie was also prosecuted for tax fraud.[citation needed] On 30 September 2008, a French court ended a long legal battle between Tapie and the Crédit Lyonnais bank. Crédit Lyonnais had allegedly defrauded Tapie in 1993 and 1994 when it sold Adidas on his behalf to Robert Louis-Dreyfus, apparently by arranging a larger sale with Dreyfus without Tapie's knowledge. The court awarded 135 million euros to Tapie. This decision was partially overturned on 9 October 2006 by the Court of Cassation, the main court of last resort in France.[citation needed]

In the 2007 presidential election, he supported Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, despite having been a minister in a Socialist government, and being a member of the Radical Party of the Left (PRG). According to Le Canard enchaîné, the reason for Tapie's ideological inconsistency was portrayed as being about ' tax issues ' which Sarkozy allegedly promised to resolve following his election.[citation needed]


Tapie made his fortune acquiring companies. The first company that Tapie purchased was Leclanche Wonder – a large producer of batteries. He later sold this company to Energizer. In 1990 Tapie purchased Adidas, which cost him nearly 1.6 billion francs. He takes up a loan unionized with a banking pool with foreign majority (German and Japanese banks for the main part), and in French minority, in particular with the SdBO, the subsidiary of Crédit Lyonnais and banker of the group Hidden for several years. In this opportunity(occasion), the AGF, the UAP and Crédit Lyonnais enter the capital of the sporting mark(brand). He subsequently had a number of legal difficulties associated with this company. The Tapie group has also tried to dabble in the online poker world when they tried to acquire Full Tilt Poker. However, they were not able to negotiate a successful deal with the United States Department of Justice, and the deal fell through.[4]


In 1995, Tapie turned to artistic endeavors because he was unable to pursue his previous interests: he was personally bankrupt and therefore unable to pursue business ventures, he was declared ineligible to run for political office, and he was banned from football. The first thing he turned to was film. He starred, together with Fabrice Luchini, in Claude Lelouch's 1996 movie Hommes, femmes, mode d'emploi (Men, Women: A User's Manual).[5]

In 1998, he collaborated in a song by French artist Doc Gynéco, "C'est beau la vie."

In 2001, a documentary film was made titled Who is Bernard Tapie? by American filmmaker Marina Zenovich.[6]