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10, 50 and 100 years ago in France – February 2020

What happened in Febuary 10, 50, and 100 years ago? Biggest donation, a yellow leader and a world record

FEBRUARY 2010: Making-up a fortune

On February 11, L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt made the biggest single private donation to a foundation in French history.

She wrote a cheque for €552million to the Bettencourt-Schueller foundation, which she set up with her daughter to fund research and business innovation.

She was the only child of the founder of L’Oréal, Eugène Schueller, and inherited his fortune when he died in 1957.

Mrs Bettencourt died in 2017 aged 94, at which time she was the richest woman in the world, with a net worth of about €40.4billion.

Her only child, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, now holds this title with a net worth of about €44.5billion. Last year, she was ranked 15th on Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was No.1.

FEBRUARY 1970: Yellow leader

French cyclist Eugène Christophe, the first person to wear the famous yellow jersey during the Tour de France – in 1919 – died aged 85 on February 1.

Christophe, right, did not win, but was leading the race after the 10th stage when the Tour director decided he should wear a yellow jersey so spectators could recognise his position.

Yellow was chosen as it was the colour of the pages of L’Auto newspaper (now L’Équipe), which was owned by the race sponsors.

Christophe, who rode in the Tour 11 times but never won, is known for welding the forks of his bicycle back together during the 1913 Tour - at the time, only riders could perform repairs.


FEBRUARY 1920: Fastest and highest

Jean Casale broke the world record for flying at the fastest speed in an aeroplane, at 283kph, on February 28.

The French pilot had already broken the record for flying to the highest altitude the previous year, reaching 9,650 metres above ground.

The records were broken while Casale worked as a test pilot for the Blériot-Aéronautique company.

Before that, he flew fighter planes in World War One and had become known as one of the flying aces, meaning he had shot down at least five enemy aircraft during his time as a military aviator.

He died at the age of 29 in June 1923, when the plane he was flying crashed in the Forest of Vieuville, just north of Grandvilliers in the Oise department.

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