French businessman and politician dies aged 78

Bernard Tapie, the eccentric and often scandalized French businessman, had died at the age of 78.

The former deputy, minister, movie star, singer and former president of the Olympique de Marseille football club, died on Sunday.

Tapie, whose business interests also included a stake in sportswear company Adidas, had suffered from stomach cancer for several years.

“He left peacefully, surrounded by his wife, his children and grandchildren, who were at his bedside,” his family said in a statement to the newspaper La Provence, adding that Tapie wished to be buried in Marseille, “the city of his heart “. .

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 “.

The businessman has become one of the most famous personalities in France, famous for his outspokenness and his desire to display his vast wealth.

Tapie gained national attention in 1989 during a fierce debate with Jean-Marie Le Pen, then leader of the far-right National Front.

He was elected Member of Parliament that year and served two terms as Minister of Urban Affairs in the office of Socialist President François Mitterrand in the early 1990s.

Charismatic president of Marseille from 1986 to 1994, he was in charge when OM won the Champions League.

He was then sent to prison for corruption in a match-fixing scandal in the French first division.

“Olympique 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.

In 2017, he was told he had to repay £ 345million awarded to him in 2008 for the disputed sale of Adidas to state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais. The legal battle, which he called a “stupid mistake”, lasted 20 years.

Despite the controversy, Tapie said he had been “spoiled” with his life.

“When you won the Tour de France, the Champions League, you were a minister, singer, actor… what didn’t I do? I cannot say that I have not been spoiled rotten by life, ”he told Le Monde.

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