Bernard Tapie

Bernard Tapie

Bernard Tapie in 2010
Minister of City Affairs
In office
26 December 1992  28 March 1993
President François Mitterrand
Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy
Preceded by François Loncle
Succeeded by Simone Veil
In office
2 April 1992  23 May 1992
President François Mitterrand
Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy
Preceded by André Laignel
Succeeded by François Loncle
Member of the National Assembly
In office
2 April 1993  5 September 1996
Preceded by Yves Vidal
Succeeded by Roger Meï
Constituency Bouches-du-Rhône 10
In office
22 January 1989  26 December 1992
Preceded by Guy Teissier
Succeeded by Jean-Claude Chermann
Constituency Bouches-du-Rhône 6
Personal details
Born Bernard Roger Tapie
(1943-01-26) 26 January 1943
Paris, France
Nationality French
Political party Radical Party of the Left
Spouse(s) Dominique Mialet-Damianos (1987-present)
Michèle Layec (divorced)
Children 2 sons, 2 daughters
Occupation Politician
Television presenter
Profession Businessman

Bernard Tapie (French pronunciation: [bɛʁnaːʁ tapi]; born 26 January 1943) is a French businessman, politician and occasional actor, singer, and TV host. He was Minister of City Affairs in the government of Pierre Bérégovoy.

Life and career

Tapie was born in Paris. He is a businessman specializing in recovery for bankrupted companies, among which Adidas is the most famous (he owned Adidas from 1990 to 1993); and owner of sports teams: his cycling team La Vie Claire won the Tour de France twice – in 1985 and 1986 – and his football club Olympique de Marseille won the French championship four times in a row, and the Champions League in 1993.

La Vie Claire, one of Tapie's former businesses, is a chain of health product stores. It sponsored one of the strongest cycling teams of all time, La Vie Claire, which was founded after the 1983 European cycling season, when multiple Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault had acrimoniously broken away from the Renault-Elf-Gitane team that featured Hinault's much younger and newly crowned French Tour de France winner, Laurent Fignon. La Vie Claire was formed by Hinault after Hinault had experienced a falling-out with his long-time and highly successful team manager from Renault-Elf, Cyrille Guimard, in respect to which of the two French riders (and previously loyal team-mates) would lead the team in 1984 after Fignon's 1983 victory, a race in which Hinault had been unable to participate, due to tendonitis of his knee that had flared up during the 1983 Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) that had been raced little over a month earlier and which Hinault had won. Following Hinault from the all-powerful Renault-Elf team to the newly formed La Vie Claire squad was Greg LeMond, who would himself end up winning three Tours de France with three different teams. Hinault and LeMond would soon win successive Tours with the La Vie Claire team after leaving Renault-Elf-Gitane, while both Fignon and Guimard would never win another Tour de France, as a cyclist and directeur sportif respectively, after 1984 (the closest that the two came to winning the Tour de France again was in 1989, when Lemond defeated their enduring alliance by a mere 8 seconds in the time-trial that was held on the final day of that Tour, which is still the closest ever winning margin in over 100 editions of the Tour and which closely followed Fignon's win that year in the Giro d'Italia, or Tour of Italy). Hinault had already formed a strong collective of primarily French riders almost immediately after his breakaway from Renault-Elf and Guimard, and before he had even secured the much-needed financial backing for his team from someone like Bernard Tapie.

From 1986 to 1994, he was president of the Olympique de Marseille football club, which became Champion of France and won the Champions League.

On 30 September 2011, it was disclosed Tapie had agreed to buy Full Tilt Poker and its assets despite its legal troubles in the United States and the revocation of its gambling license.[1] That deal fell through in April 2012.[2]

Legal difficulties

In 1993, the same year that Olympique de Marseille won the Champions League, he was accused of fixing the match between his club and minor club Valenciennes; the motivation seemed to be that, in this way, he could save his best players for important matches and not waste their energy. His club was stripped of its French league championship, though not of the Champions League title, and later suffered a forced relegation to the second division because of financial irregularities widely blamed on Tapie.

In 1994, Tapie was put under criminal investigation for complicity of corruption and subornation of witnesses. After a high-profile case against public prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier, he was sentenced in 1995 by the Court of Appeals of Douai to 2 years in prison, including 8 months non-suspended and 3 years of deprivation of his civic rights.

From 1993 to 2008 there was a long legal battle between Tapie and the Crédit Lyonnais bank (partly state-owned bank). Crédit Lyonnais had allegedly defrauded Tapie in 1993 and 1994 when it sold Adidas on his behalf to Robert Louis-Dreyfus, apparently by arranging a larger sale with Dreyfus without Tapie's knowledge.

In 2008 a special judicial panel ruled that Tapie should receive compensation of €404 million from the French Ministry of Finance, headed by Christine Lagarde. She decided not to challenge the ruling. On December 3, 2015 court ruled that Tapie should return this compensation with interest, following investigation into alleged abuse of power by Ms. Lagarde.[3]

In the 2007 presidential election, he supported Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, despite having been a minister in a Socialist government, and being a member of the Radical Party of the Left (PRG). According to Le Canard enchaîné, the reason for Tapie's ideological inconsistency was portrayed as being about ' tax issues ' which Sarkozy allegedly promised to resolve following his election.


Tapie made his fortune acquiring companies. The first company that he purchased was Leclanché Wonder – a large producer of batteries. He later sold this company to Energizer. In 1990 Tapie purchased Adidas for nearly 1.6 billion francs. He took up a loan unionized with a banking pool with a majority of foreign banks (German and Japanese banks for the main part), and in minority from French backers, in particular with the SdBO, the subsidiary of Crédit Lyonnais group hidden for several years. In this opportunity, the AGF, the UAP and Crédit Lyonnais entered the capital of the sporting brand. He subsequently had a number of legal difficulties associated with this company. The Tapie group also tried to dabble in the online poker world when they tried to acquire Full Tilt Poker. However, they were not able to negotiate a successful deal with the United States Department of Justice, and the deal fell through.[4]


In 1995, Tapie turned to artistic endeavors because he was unable to pursue his previous interests: he was personally bankrupt and therefore unable to pursue business ventures, he was declared ineligible to run for political office, and he was banned from football. The first thing he turned to was film. He starred, together with Fabrice Luchini, in Claude Lelouch's 1996 movie Hommes, femmes, mode d'emploi (Men, Women: A User's Manual).[5]

In 1998, he collaborated in a song by French artist Doc Gynéco, "C'est beau la vie."

In 2001, a documentary film was made titled Who is Bernard Tapie? by American filmmaker Marina Zenovich.[6]


See also


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