Liliane Bettencourt
L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt has lost control of her huge fortune. Reuters

One of the wealthiest women in the world, French billionairess and L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, has been placed under family guardianship by a court, meaning she will lose control of her vast fortune – estimated at 16 billion euros ($22 billion) by Forbes magazine.

According to reports, her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers and her sons will gain control of the family’s money and property after a judge raised concerns about the 88-year-old woman’s failing mental health.

Francoise has been trying to gain control of the family’s assets for two years.

Liliane, the daughter of L’Oreal founder Eugène Schueller, owns about 30 percent of cosmetics giant L’Oreal. Swiss food giant Nestlé controls about 25 percent of the company.

However, Liliane’s lawyer Jean-Rene Farthouat, who said the court’s ruling was profoundly disappointing and that he will file an appeal.

Liliane, who remains on the board of directors of L’Oreal, is reportedly estranged from her daughter Francoise and have been engaged in a very public and ugly feud over the family’s huge wealth.

Liliane recently told the Journal du Dimanche that she would leave France if her daughter successfully gained control of her wealth.

If it's that, I will go abroad. If my daughter looks after me I would feel stifled. If it's her, I will leave, she said.

Liliane has also suggested that her daughter needed psychiatric help.

The feud between family members even extended to France’s political elite. President Nicholas Sarkozy has denied allegations that his ruling UMP party received illegal campaign contributions from Liliane. She was also accused of tax evasion.