French football multibillionaire and former government minister Bernard Tapie has died at the age of 78, his family has announced.
The flamboyant tycoon, who helped transform Olympique de Marseille into European champions, succumbed to stomach cancer on Sunday as he waited for the start of a major trial for fraud.
Tapie, a father of four, was born in Paris in 1943 into a working-class family and emerged from a poor suburban childhood to become one of the richest men in France.
President Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences to Tapie’s family in a statement, saying that he and his wife “were touched by the news of the death of Bernard Tapie, whose ambition, energy and enthusiasm have has been a source of inspiration for generations of French people “.
A statement released by her family on Sunday afternoon said: “Dominique Tapie and her children have the infinite sorrow of announcing the death of her husband and their father, Bernard Tapie, this Sunday October 3 at 8:40 am, following cancer. ‘
He adds: “He left peacefully, surrounded by his wife, his children, his grandchildren and his brother, present at his bedside”.
The family said Mr. Tapie “had expressed his wish to be buried in Marseille, the city of his heart.”
The flamboyant tycoon, who helped make Olympique de Marseille European champion, died of stomach cancer on Sunday at the age of 78, while awaiting the start of an important trial for fraud.
Tapie was at the helm when OM beat AC Milan 1-0 in the Champions League final and was the club’s charismatic president from 1986 to 1994.
Tapie has led a particularly eclectic life which has seen him occupy the roles of politician, business mogul, football club president, singer, actor and television host.
He served as a socialist minister in France while building a sports and media empire, and was particularly notorious for taking over struggling companies in corporate raids, stripping them of their assets and selling them for big profits. .
Tapie made his fortune in the late 1970s and 1980s buying out bankrupt companies, and became one of the richest men in France before going bankrupt personally in the 1990s.
Among the status symbols he spent millions on were the Olympique de Marseille where he was a charismatic club president from 1986 to 1994, and the cycling team La Vie Claire which won two Tours de France in the 1980s.
Building on this success, Tapie entered politics and was elected to the French parliament in 1989 and again in 1993.
He then became a Member of the European Parliament in 1994 after briefly serving as a government minister under President FranÃ§ois Mitterrand.
Tapie made his way into politics and was elected to the French parliament in 1989 and again in 1993 (pictured 1994)
Tapie sentenced to prison in 1995 for corruption in a match fixing scandal in the French first division in 1993 (photo from May 1995)
He also owned sportswear giant Adidas from 1990 to 1993 and was largely responsible for turning the company’s fortunes around after Adidas was on the verge of bankruptcy earlier in the decade.
His sale of Adidas marked the start of years of complex legal sagas he had become involved in.
Tapie was at the helm when OM beat AC Milan 1-0 in the Champions League final, but was then sent to jail in 1995 for corruption in a match-fixing scandal in the French Premier League, and has also received criminal tax convictions. fraud and misuse of corporate assets after which he went bankrupt.
âOlympique de Marseille learned with deep sadness of the death of Bernard Tapie. He will leave a great void in the hearts of the Marseillais and will forever remain in the legend of the club, “OM said in a statement.
Marseille supporters display a banner in support of Bernard Tapie ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E soccer match between Olympique de Marseille and Galatasaray AS at the Stade VÃ©lodrome in Marseille on September 30, just four days before his death
Tapie was born in Paris in 1943, the son of a plumber, and came out of a poor suburban childhood to become one of the richest men in France.
After his release from prison in 1997, Tapie was not eligible for political office and instead embarked on a career in showbiz and tried his hand at acting.
In 2000 he made his debut as a stage actor and received very positive reviews for his portrayal of Randle McMurphy in Flight Over a Cuckoo’s Nest – a role made famous on the big screen by Jack Nicholson .
Tapie continued to occupy many roles in plays from 2001 to 2005, and also appeared in the famous French television series “Valence” as a police chief.
Although his days as a business mogul are long gone, the later stages of Tapie’s life were still marked by legal battles.
Tapie, pictured in April 2019, looks on during a stay of his trial for defrauding the French state of nearly half a billion euros with a massive 2008 arbitration award
His death came just six months after a burglary at his mansion in Combs-La-Ville, near Paris, in which Tapie was beaten and immobilized with electrical cords while burglars ransacked his home.
Tapie’s latest fraud trial was adjourned last year due to her cancer and was scheduled to resume next May.
It was a marathon legal battle between Tapie and the public bank CrÃ©dit Lyonnais, which arose in the early 90s following the bank’s involvement in the sale of Adidas.
Tapie was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2017, but his health deteriorated dramatically in 2020 before his death last weekend.
His death came just six months after a burglary at his mansion in Combs-La-Ville, near Paris.
Mr. Tapie was severely beaten and then electric cords were used to restrain him and his wife, Dominique Tapie, 70.
“When you won the Tour de France, the Champions League, you were a minister, singer, actor … what didn’t I do?” Tapie said in an interview with Le Monde in 2017.
“I can’t say that I haven’t been spoiled rotten with life.”