Scandal-ridden businessman and former Adidas owner Bernard Tapie and his wife have been attacked in a violent burglary at their estate near Paris.
The couple were tied up with electrical cords, physically assaulted and robbed of their jewellery.
Bernard Tapie, 78, who is a former French finance minister, is a flamboyant and controversial figure.
He has been at the centre of legal battles concerning corruption and fraud for decades, and spent time in jail.
Mr Tapie and his wife, Dominique, 70, were sleeping when four men slipped passed security guards and broke into their home around 00:30 on Sunday (22:30 GMT Saturday).
The intruders pulled Mrs Tapie by the hair “because they wanted to know where the treasure was”, the mayor of Combs-La-Ville, Guy Geoffroy, told AFP.
“But of course there was no treasure, and the fact that they didn’t find it made the violence only worse.”
Mr Tapie was hit over the head with a club while sitting in a chair.
Managing to free herself, Dominique Tapie ran to a neighbour’s home and called the police. She suffered facial injuries after being hit several times, and was taken to hospital.
“She is doing well,” Mr Tapie’s grandson Rodolphe Tapie said.
Mr Tapie refused to go to hospital.
“He is shattered, very tired,” Rodolphe Tapie said.
The thieves reportedly stole two watches, including a Rolex, earrings, bracelets and a ring.
Who is Bernard Tapie?
Bernard Tapie has a long list of accomplishments over a number of decades:
- French finance minister
- majority shareholder of the sportswear brand Adidas
- owner of Olympique de Marseille football club
- media boss, taking over La Provence and other newspapers
- acting, singing and hosting radio and TV shows.
But he has also had a string of legal problems, declared bankruptcy in the 1990s and spent five months in jail after a series of cases concerning corruption, tax fraud and misuse of corporate assets.
Flaunting his wealth by buying the football club, Olympique de Marseille won the French championship while he was their owner, but he was accused of match-fixing and the club was stripped of its league championship title and later relegated to a lower division.
Twenty-year legal battle over Adidas sale
His most high-profile case has lasted more than two decades, and involves a controversial settlement of €400m ($470m) awarded to him in 2008 after he sold his stake in Adidas.
Mr Tapie had sued French state bank Crédit Lyonnais, accusing it of undervaluing the sports goods company during the sale.
A panel concluded he had been the victim of fraud, and awarded him the massive damages.
The scandal also implicated then-Finance Minister Christine Lagarde. She was found guilty of negligence, because she approved the compensation money.
Ms Lagarde denied any wrongdoing, and was not fined or imprisoned. She now runs the European Central Bank.
Mr Tapie hwas ordered to repay the money in 2015, after a court found he had in fact not been defrauded by Crédit Lyonnais – a decision he continues to fight.
Bernard Tapie is currently suffering stomach cancer and cancer of the oesophagus, and the trial concerning his appeal was postponed last year until May 2021 because of his health.