The couple were asleep when four men broke into the house in Combs-la-Ville near Paris around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, beat them and tied them up with electrical cables before taking their loot.
Dominique Tapie managed to free himself and went to a neighbor’s house, from where he called the police. Slightly injured by several blows to the face, she was taken to the hospital for a check-up.
“She’s fine,” Tapie’s grandson Rodolphe Tapie told AFP.
During the robbery, the perpetrators “pulled her hair because they wanted to know where the treasure was,” Combs-La-Ville mayor Guy Geoffroy told AFP. “But of course there was no treasure, and the fact that they didn’t find one only made the violence worse.”
Jewelry and a Rolex
The 78-year-old Tapie himself was hit on the head with a club, prosecutor Beatrice Angelelli told AFP, but he refused to receive medical attention.
“My grandfather refused to take him away,” said Rodolphe Tapie. “He is devastated, very tired. He was sitting in a chair when they hit him with a club. “
The thieves broke into the home of Tapie, a vast estate known as the “Moulin de Breuil”, through a first-floor window, undetected by guards.
Two watches were taken, including a Rolex, earrings, bracelets and a ring, according to a source close to the investigation.
Tapie was a socialist minister who emerged from humble beginnings to build a sports and media empire, but then ran into a series of legal problems.
He made a fortune in the early part of his career by taking over bankrupt companies in corporate raids, stripping them of their assets, and selling them for profit during the years of high financial deregulation in France.
He often flaunted his wealth, even buying a 72-meter yacht and a football club, Olympique de Marseille, which won the French championship while he owned it.
He has also been under suspicion of match-fixing in France’s top soccer league.
He was briefly Minister of Urban Affairs in the Francois Mitterrand government in 1992.
Many legal problems
Tapie was found guilty in a series of corruption, tax fraud and misuse of corporate assets, went to prison for five months and was stripped of the right to stand in any election in France.
After his release from prison in 1997, Tapie added show business to his various activities, trying his hand at acting, singing, and hosting radio and television programs.
In 2012 he also became head of media, taking over the daily La Provence and other newspapers in the south of France.
A fraud case has haunted Tapie for decades, involving a hugely controversial settlement worth 400 million euros ($ 470 million at current rates) awarded to him by a government arbitration panel, the size of which shocked France.
The panel found that he had been the victim of fraud when he sold his stake in the sportswear company Adidas in 1993 to the French state bank Credit Lyonnais, which was found to have undervalued the sportswear brand.
‘Determined’ to stand trial
The case also caught up with then-Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who now heads the European Central Bank. She was found guilty of “negligence.”
Lagarde’s handling of the case raised suspicions that his former boss Nicolas Sarkozy, whom Tapie had endorsed for the presidency in 2007, had a favorable disposition toward the businessman, accusations Sarkozy has vehemently denied.
Last fall, Tapie’s fraud trial was postponed due to poor health because he suffered from worsening double stomach cancer and esophageal cancer.
The trial will resume in May, with Tapie “determined” to be present, according to his lawyer.
Police are treating Sunday’s incident as a violent robbery and kidnapping, a source close to the investigation told AFP.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism