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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Bernard Tapie: French tycoon, 78, died peacefully, his family said


One of France’s most recognisable figures, the businessman, sports club owner and politician Bernard Tapie, has died at the age of 78.

Mr Tapie, who had been battling stomach cancer for four years, died peacefully, surrounded by his family, according to a statement.

He once owned Adidas and Olympique Marseille, and he served as a minister under President Francois Mitterrand.

He also had a string of legal issues and was imprisoned.

Mr Tapie’s wife Dominique and family expressed “immense sadness” at his death. He wanted to be buried in Marseille, “the city of his heart,” they said.

Among those who paid tribute to him were President Emmanuel Macron, who said his “ambition, energy, and enthusiasm… were a source of inspiration for generations of French people.”

Olympique de Marseille won the French Championship five times while Tapie was president, and took home the UEFA Champions League in 1993

Bernard Tapie grew up in Paris’s working-class suburbs.

He began his career as a singer, then as a race car driver, before discovering a talent for buying up failing businesses and selling them on, according to the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris.

He displayed his wealth by purchasing the Olympique de Marseille, which won the French championship while he was owner. However, he was charged with match-fixing, and the club was stripped of its league championship and relegated to a lower division.

He also owned a cycling team that won the Tour de France twice, was a majority shareholder in the sportswear company Adidas, and owned several newspapers.

He dabbled in politics in the 1990s, briefly becoming minister of urban affairs before being elected as a leftist French and European parliament MP in Marseille.

He also found time to perform and even appeared on television.

Bernard and Dominique Tapie at the unveiling of a new theatre in Paris in 2007

By the late 1990s, Mr Tapie’s empire had crumbled due to a slew of legal issues.

He was imprisoned for match fixing as well as other charges involving corruption, tax fraud, and misappropriation of corporate assets.

Earlier this year, he and his wife were Earlier this year, he and his wife were attacked in a violent burglary at their home.

Bernard Tapie faced the ups and downs of his life always with panache, our correspondent notes, and he was an admired and fascinating figure until the end.

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