PARIS — There’s a new wrinkle in the Bettencourt affair.

This story first appeared in the December 28, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Liliane Bettencourt, the 87-year-old daughter of L’Oréal’s founder, has refused to undergo psychological evaluations to help establish whether photographer François-Marie Banier extorted her for “gifts” valued at about 1 billion euros, or $1.44 billion at current exchange.

During a hearing on Dec. 11, a court in Nanterre, France said Bettencourt is to have neurological and psychological tests, whose evaluation reports are due by March 10.

Another court proceeding is scheduled for April 15 and 16.

The lawsuit was brought against Banier in December 2007 by Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, Bettencourt’s daughter. Bettencourt Meyers alleges Banier’s “exploitation of weakness” of her mother.

Bettencourt argues she is sound and acting on her own freewill.

To the question concerning whether he had forced Bettencourt to give him money, Banier was quoted as saying in French newspaper Le Monde in early December: “It is a matter of gifts, which I refused for a long time. These gifts come from a woman who is totally lucid. The first go back to 1995 and spread over 10 years. And I am not the only one — far from that — to have benefited.”

Bettencourt’s refusal to undergo the court-ordered tests was confirmed by Bettencourt Meyers’ lawyer, Olivier Metzner, on Thursday. The news broke in French newspaper Le Figaro that day.

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