The New York Times‘s compilation story on Lilianne Bettencourt’s doting gifts to François-Marie Banier had two interesting tidbits concerning M. Banier. For those of you who have not read the story nor followed the French fascination with the tale, let’s summarize it thus: Banier, a photographer, artist and friend to the great and greatly known, has received nearly €1 billion from Liliane Bettencourt, the L’Oreal heiress. Naturally, Bettencourt’s daughter is concerned about such a large sum being gifted to someone outside the family. M. Banier’s friends say he is interested in creating a foundation to support artists and writers but, of course, there would be no scandal–or far less–if the gifts had flowed into a foundation instead of Banier personally.
Nonetheless, what is interesting about the story is this description of Banier’s artistic output:
One criticism that stings is doubt raised about his artistic merits. “500,000 photographs, 27 books and catalogues, 27 exhibitions,” he wrote in an e-mail message regarding his accomplishments. “500 paintings, 1,200 drawings, 3,000 painted photographs.”
The other is that Banier has been perfecting his charms for some time:
“He opens up people to new experiences,” said John Richardson, 85, a friend of Mr. Banier and the biographer of Pablo Picasso. “Their life becomes enjoyable and he is enormous fun to be with. He is particularly good with stimulating old people.”
Mr. Richardson noted that Mr. Banier was a great comfort to Jacqueline Picasso, after her husband died in 1973. “He moves in on people and turns up their lives,” he said. “All right, if some cash rubs off on him he deserves every single cent.”
Generous to a Fault? (New York Times)