L'Oréal CEO Jean-Paul Agon announced Bettencourt's death Thursday.
"We all had a great admiration for Liliane Bettencourt who always looked after L'Oréal, the company and its employees, and was very attached to its success and development," Agon wrote in a statement. "She has personally contributed greatly to its success for many years. Mrs Liliane Bettencourt was a great lady of beauty who has left us and whom we will never forget."
At the time of her death at age 94, Bettencourt was worth about $39.5 billion, according to Forbes. Bettencourt captured headlines in 2007 when her daughter filed a lawsuit asserting that her mother had been swindled by Francois-Marie Banier, a society photographer 25 years younger than the L'Oréal heiress. Banier was accused of taking advantage of Bettencourt's frailty to take about $1.4 billion in cash and fine art, among other gifts. Banier, who denied the allegations, was convicted of exploiting Bettencourt and sentenced to three years in jail, a sentence that was later reduced by six months, the New York Times reports.
The passing of Bettencourt moves the 67-year-old Walton, the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, up one rank to take the title of the richest woman in the world. Walton's net worth is $33.8 billion, according to Forbes.