François-Marie Banier

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François-Marie Banier
François-Marie Banier à la manif pour une autre réforme des retraites.jpg
Born (1947-06-27) 27 June 1947 (age 71)
Paris, France
OccupationNovelist, playwright, artist, actor and photographer

François-Marie Banier (French pronunciation: ​[fʁɑ̃swa maʁi banje]) (born (1947-06-27)27 June 1947) is a French novelist, playwright, artist, actor and photographer. He is particularly known for his photographs of celebrities and other public figures and for his friendships with members of high society.

Life and career[edit]

Banier was born in Paris, France. He grew up in a middle-class family in the 16th arrondissement of Paris but became estranged from his parents as a teenager.[1] In a 2009 interview with Paris Match, he said that he had been "completely incomprehensible to [his] parents". He also said that his father had beaten him, and his mother had an unerring ability to avoid answering questions.[2]

Despite his modest background, from an early age he was a precocious and hyperactive talent, who was able to develop friendships with some of Paris' wealthiest arts patrons and artists. At the age of 16, he met Salvador Dalí, who would send his car to bring Banier to his suite at the Hotel Meurice to discuss art.[3] At the age of 19, he befriended the wealthy heiress and patron of the arts Marie-Laure de Noailles who was then 64.[4]

He published his first novel, Les Résidences secondaires ou la Vie distraite (Second Homes or Distracted Life), at the age of 22. Around the same time, a well-known Parisian designer and antique dealer Madeleine Castaing (who was 75 at the time) helped him launch a career in photography by purchasing a dozen of his photographs for 70,000 francs.[5]

Over the years, Banier befriended many well-known public figures and celebrities, including Pablo Picasso, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Françoise Sagan, Samuel Beckett, Vladimir Horowitz, Louis Aragon, François Mitterrand, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger and Princess Caroline of Monaco.[1][6] He is a friend of Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Vanessa Paradis, whom he met at his home in the south of France.[7] Banier is godfather to their daughter, Lily-Rose.[6]

In the 1970s, Banier shared a studio with designer Jacques Grange on rue Servandoni near Luxembourg Garden.[5] Over the years, he acquired his own studio on rue Servandoni and gradually combined it with adjacent apartments until he was able to open a second entrance on rue de Vaugirard.[8][9] As of 2008 he shared these quarters with actor Pascal Greggory and his nephew Martin d’Orgeval.[10] Banier, who is openly gay,[11] also owns a home in Sommières, France.[10]

Relationship with Liliane Bettencourt[edit]

In 1987 François-Marie Banier was commissioned to photograph Liliane Bettencourt and Federico Fellini for the French magazine Egoiste. Bettancourt was one of the principal shareholders of L'Oréal and one of the wealthiest persons in the world with an estimated fortune of US$40.1 billion.[12] Over the ensuing years, Banier and Bettencourt became friends and she became his chief benefactor, bestowing gifts upon him estimated to be worth as much as €1.3 billion. These gifts included a life insurance policy worth €253 million in 2003, another life insurance policy worth €262 million in 2006,[13] 11 works of art in 2001 valued at €20 million, including paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Delaunay and Léger and a photograph by surrealist Man Ray[1][6] and cash. The life insurance policies were allegedly signed over to Banier after Bettencourt was recovering from two hospital stays in 2003 and 2006.[2]

In December 2007, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the daughter of Bettencourt, lodged a criminal complaint against Banier, accusing him of abus de faiblesse (or the exploitation of a physical or psychological weakness for personal gain) over Bettencourt.[8] As a result of her complaint, the Brigade Financière, the financial investigative arm of the French national police, opened an investigation and, after interviewing members of Bettencourt’s staff, determined to present the case to a court in Nanterre for trial in September 2009.[2] In December 2009, the court delayed ruling on the case until April 2010 (later extended until July 2010) pending the results of a medical examination of Bettencourt's mental state.[14] However, Bettencourt refused to submit to these examinations.[15]

In July 2010, the trial was adjourned again until autumn 2010, at the earliest, after details of tape recordings made by Bettencourt's butler became public. The tapes allegedly reveal that Bettencourt had made Banier her "sole heir" (excluding the L'Oréal shares which made up the bulk of her estate and which had already been signed over to her daughter and two grandsons).[16] Bettencourt has since removed Banier from her will.[17]

In May 2015, he was given a three-year sentence – six months of which was suspended – and ordered to pay a fine of €250,000 and pay back over €15m to the Bettencourt family.

In August 2016, an appeals court reduced his sentence to four years suspended and a €375,000 fine.[18][19][20]

Selected works[edit]


  • Les Résidences Secondaires, Grasset, 1969
  • Le Passé composé, Grasset, 1971
  • La Tête la première, Grasset, 1972
  • Balthazar, fils de famille, Gallimard, 1985, Grand prix des lectrices de Elle
  • Sur un air de fête, Gallimard, 1990
  • Les Femmes du métro Pompe, Gallimard, 2006
  • Johnny Dasolo, Gallimard, 2008


  • Hôtel du lac, Gallimard, 1975
  • Nous ne connaissons pas la même personne, Grasset, 1978
  • Je ne t'ai jamais aimé, Gallimard, 2000


  • Photographies, Gallimard/Denoël, 1991
  • Past-Present, William Morrow, New York, 1996 ; Schirmer/Mosel, Munich 1997
  • Vivre, São Paulo, Pinacoteca do Estado ; Rio de Janeiro, Museum de Arte Moderna, 1999
  • François-Marie Banier, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Asahi Schimbun, 2000
  • Brésil, Gallimard, 2001
  • François-Marie Banier, Miami Beach, Bass Museum of Art ; Gallimard, 2003
  • Le Chanteur muet des rues, en collaboration avec Erri de Luca, éd. Martin d'Orgeval, Gallimard, 2006
  • Perdre la tête, Die schönsten deutschen Bücher (Prix du meilleur livre allemand, section photographie), 2006 ; Silver Crown Award, Moscou, 2007
  • Vive la vie, with photographs of Natalia Vodianova. Steidl, Göttingen, Germany, 2008. ISBN 978-3-86521-821-6.
  • Beckett, Steidl, 2009

Art exhibitions

  • 1991 : Musée national d'Art moderne, Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris
  • 1994 : Bunkamera Gallery, Tokyo ; galerie Beatrice Wassermann, Munich
  • 1997 : Villa Farnèse, Rome
  • 1998 : Private Heroes, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart
  • 2000 : Fotos y Pinturas, musée national des Beaux Arts d'Argentine, Buenos Aires
  • 2001 : Täglich Neues, musée Ludwig ; Coblence ; Budapest
  • 2003 : Maison européenne de la photographie, Paris
  • 2003 : Transphotographiques, Lille, Crypte de la Cathédrale de la Treille
  • 2005 : Perdre la tête, Académie de France à Rome, Villa Medici
  • 2006 : True Stories, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul
  • 2007 : Perdre la tête, Manège de Moscou
  • 2007 : Galerie Gagosian, Los Angeles
  • 2007 : Written Photos, Villa Oppenheim, Berlin
  • 2007 : Transphotographiques, Lille, Eglise St Maurice
  • 2009 : Beckett, Maison de la Photographie, Lille

Filmography (actor)

  • Chassé-croisé, film by Arielle Dombasle, 1982
  • L'Argent (1983), film by Robert Bresson, 1983
  • La Nuit porte-jarretelles, film by Virginie Thévenet, 1985
  • 4 aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle, film by Éric Rohmer, 1987
  • L'Arbre, le maire et la médiathèque, film by Éric Rohmer, 1993
  • L'Anglaise et le Duc, film by Éric Rohmer, 2001
  • L'Heure d'été, film by Olivier Assayas, 2008


  1. ^ a b c The bitter family battle for the L’Oréal billion Archived 2011-02-08 at the Wayback Machine., The Evening Standard, 20 Jul 2009. Accessed 27 Jun 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Generous to a Fault?, The New York Times, 21 Aug 2009. Accessed 7 Jul 2010.
  3. ^ Because he’s worth it?, The Daily Telegraph, 15 Dec 2008. Accessed 30 Jun 2010.
  4. ^ Did man con French heiress out of $1.5 billion?,, 11 Dec 2009. Accessed 27 Jun 2010.
  5. ^ a b François-Marie Banier: un ami qui vous veut du bien, 16 Jan 2009. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Because she’s worth charming, The Times, 21 Dec 2008. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  7. ^ L'Oréal heiress gives €1bn to photographer 'because he's worth it', The Independent, 15 Dec 2008. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  8. ^ a b Une affaire de famille, Forbes, 11 Mar 2009. Accessed 7 Jul 2010.
  9. ^ Le favori qui valait un milliard, Le Journal du Dimanche, 26 Jul 2009. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  10. ^ a b Où est passé l'argent de Liliane Bettencourt?, 23 Dec 2008. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Photographer on Trial for Receiving Gigantic Gifts from French Heiress, ABC News, 1 Jul 2010. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  14. ^ Heiress Case Delayed, With Medical Tests Ordered, The New York Times, 11 Dec 2009. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  15. ^ Secret Tapes Delay L'Oréal Heiress Case, The Wall Street Journal, 2 Jul 2010. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  16. ^ Embarrassment for Sarkozy as £1bn L'Oréal feud comes to court, The Independent, 2 Jul 2010. Accessed 8 Jul 2010.
  17. ^ French police raid home of L'Oreal heiress, CNN, 1 Sept 2010. Accessed 1 Sept 2010.
  18. ^ Robert-Diard, Pascale (24 August 2016). "Affaire Bettencourt : François-Marie Banier condamné à quatre ans de prison avec sursis". Le Monde. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  19. ^ Durand-Souffland, Stéphane (24 August 2016). "Affaire Bettencourt : François-Marie Banier échappe à la prison". Le Figaro. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  20. ^ Samuel, Henry (21 September 2017). "World's richest woman and L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt dies". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 September 2017.

External links[edit]