One of the world’s wealthiest people with a net worth of $23.5 billion, the socialite, businesswoman and philanthropist Liliane Bettencourt, best known as the L'Oréal heiress, has now sold her private D’Arros Island in the Seychelles, an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off the east-coast of Africa. 89-years old Mrs. Bettencourt, who is reportedly at the centre of a corruption investigation that also involves the former French President Nicholas Sarkozy, sold the island for $60 million plus $10.5 million for stamp duty and other taxes to an offshore company affiliated with Swiss-based Save Our Seas Foundation, a non-profit organization that intends to turn the land into a nature reserve. Surprisingly, Bettencourt’s island sale comes on the heels of a large tax evasion scandal in her native country, France.
One of the most talked about billionaire socialite in France, the Europe’s richest heiress to L'Oréal beauty good empire, Mrs. Bettencourt bought the undeveloped D’Arros Island along with its several neighboring islets for a reported $18 million in year 1997. And, her alleged ownership actually came to light in 2010 through media reports that the island was undeclared to French authorities.
Oval-shaped Island D’Arros spans over 2.0 km in length and 990 meters in width, and is nowhere higher than 3 meters, and sits south-west of Seychelles's main island of Mahe. Mainly composed of flat coral sand cay, boasting an unpaved airstrip and coconut vegetation, this island was formerly owned by the prince Shahram Pahlavi Nia of Iran from whom Liliane Bettencourt bought in 1997.
Reportedly, the news of the transaction surfaces only after the Seychelles government hosted a press conference to discuss the future of the isle under the ownership of Save Our Seas Foundation. The Switzerland-based NGO, which has purchased the island through entities called Swiss Laurent and Chelonia Company Limited, also paid $10.5 million as stamp duty and other necessary taxes.
As part of this much-talked about sale, Bettencourt has also agreed to pay $8 million after the reports on the grounds that she had failed to properly involve the government in the purchase.
Last year, French tax authorities also ordered the L'Oréal heiress to pay nearly $133 million in unpaid taxes after undeclared accounts in Switzerland, Singapore and ownership of D’Arros Island surfaced.
Also, check the list of some of the exotic private islands of the uber-rich.