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NOVEMBER 10, 1997

Paul Ricard

DRINKS magnate and the inventor of the Paul Ricard anisette-flavored pastis, died in his home village of Signes last weekend at the age of 88. Ricard founded the Ricard Wine and Spirits Company in 1932 and his success made him world-famous, being sold in 150 countries. He remained a low-profile character and ran the business until he retired in 1968, after which he devoted his time to spending some of the vast amounts of money he had earned. His Pernod-Ricard Group now controls around 12% of the world's drink market and his family's wealth is estimated to be around $3.5bn.

One of the projects was the construction in 1969 of his own racing circuit on the rocky plateau behind Bandol, close to his village. This was opened in 1970 and for many years was considered to be the safest motor racing facility in the world. It had facilities which were years ahead of its time and it became a major winter testing location in addition to being the home of the French Grand Prix on 14 occasions between 1971 and 1990. In the late 1980s Pernod-Ricard was also a sponsor of the Brabham F1 team.

Ricard enjoyed a variety of other interests. He owned two private islands (Bendor and Embiez) off the Provence coast, where he collected plants and works of art. He established his own Institute of Oceanography and Ecological Museum at Six-Fours-les-Plages and even dabbled in rice-growing in the Camargue region near Marseilles.