French Billionaire Olivier Dassault Killed in Helicopter Crash

Olivier Dassault

Getty Olivier Dassault

Olivier Dassault, a French politician and one of the richest people in the world, died on Sunday in a helicopter crash in northwestern France. Authorities said the crash occurred just after the helicopter, an Aerospatiale AS350, took off from a private airfield near Deauville in northwestern France at around 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Dassault was the only passenger on board and the pilot was also killed in the crash, France24 reported. The cause of the crash, which occurred on a sunny day with low wind, according to the outlet, is not yet known. Dassault had a holiday home in Deauville, a coastal resort town in Normandy. Prosecutors have opened an involuntary manslaughter investigation into the crash, the outlet reported.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, wrote on Twitter, “Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of industry, local MP, reserve commander in the air force: throughout his life he never stopped serving our country and value its strengths. His sudden death is a great loss,” he said, offering his condolences to the 69-year-old’s family.

Dassault Was a Father of 3 & Was Listed by Forbes in the Top 500 Richest People in 2020

Dassault was the heir of Dassault Aviation group, a French plane manufacturer founded by his grandfather Marcel Dassault which makes the Falcon private jets, Mirage warplanes and the new Rafale fighter, according to France24. In 2020, Dassault, 69 and a father of three, made Forbes’ list of top 500 richest people in 500, coming in at 335. According to the magazine, on Monday his net worth was listed at $7.2 billion.

Dassault and his three younger siblings inherited their father Serge Dassault’s estate in 2018 and the billionaire became the president of strategy and development at Dassault Aviation. The family also owns one of the oldest newspapers in the country, Le Figaro, several vineyards and the aeronautic company, Forbes wrote.

Dassault trained at Ecole de l’Air as an engineer, pilot and officer and after graduating became a reserve commander in the country’s air force. He was also a passionate photographer and had displayed his work at various exhibitions.

Dassault Was an Elected Member of Parliament Who Served in France’s Parliament Since 2002

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Dassault was elected to the National Assembly in 2002, which is the lower house of the French Parliament. He served as a member of parliament for the Oise area of northern France and was a center-right politician. Although he appeared to be poised to take control of his father’s empire after the elder Dassault’s death, he resigned as chairman before his father’s death as he said his parliamentary duties were in conflict with the role.

Dassault’s colleagues in French politics and in the National Assembly were quick to post tributes to the billionaire, hailing him as a “visionary entrepreneur” a “humanist MP” and painting him as a politician passionate about France and committed to serving the country.

The president of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, offered his condolences to Dassault’s family and said the French parliament and French industry “lost a prominent figure and warm-hearted man.”

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