The French business magnate and former politician Bernard Tapie, whose larger-than-life career was marked by a series of legal problems, has died aged 78, four years after being diagnosed with cancer.
“Dominique Tapie and his family have the immense sadness to announce the death of her husband and their father, Bernard Tapie, this Sunday,” his family said in a statement to La Provence newspaper in Marseille, in which Tapie was a majority stakeholder.
One of his sons, Stéphane Tapie, confirmed his father’s death with a post of “Goodbye my Phoenix” on Instagram.
The statement said: “He left peacefully, surrounded by his wife, his children and grandchildren, who were at his bedside,” adding that he wished to be buried in Marseille, “the city of his heart”.
Tapie came from modest beginnings in a rough corner of Paris but became one of France’s most successful and high-profile businesspeople, flaunting his wealth with American-style flair.
He was the longtime chairman of the Olympique Marseille football club, bought a cycling team and also found time to act, taking roles that included that of a police inspector on a popular TV show.
Tapie also dabbled in politics, becoming urban affairs minister in the Socialist government of François Mitterrand in the 1990s and later a member of the French and European parliaments.
But his empire collapsed spectacularly in the late 1990s, beginning with a match-fixing trial after which he served time in jail.
He later faced prosecution over his purchase of the German sports brand Adidas in 1990, which he was forced to sell a few years later to the state-owned bank Crédit Lyonnais.
A court found him guilty of fraud over an arbitration settlement with the bank – he claimed he was cheated on the sale price – and an appeal court is due to issue its ruling on Wednesday.