French tycoon Bernard Tapie and his wife have been brutally attacked during a night-time burglary of their home, police have said.

The former French minister, 78, was once the owner of Adidas and is a controversial figure who has faced a string of legal scandals.

On Sunday, he and his wife, Dominique, 70, were sleeping when four men broke into their house in Combs-la-Ville near Paris at around 12.30am local time.

The men beat them both up before tying them up with electrical chords and fleeing the scene with stolen goods.

Mrs Tapie’s hair was pulled by the intruders because they “wanted to know where the treasure was”, according to local mayor Geoffrey Guy.

Mr Guy added that Mrs Tapie received “many blows” to the face and was taken to hospital.

“The burglars thought they were going to find a treasure,” he told the AFP news agency. “The violence was all the greater because there was not much to take.”

Following the ordeal, Mrs Tapie reportedly managed to free herself and sought help from her neighbour before calling the police.

Tapie was hit over the head with a club while he was sat in a chair but refused to be taken to hospital, his grandson Randolphe Tapie said.

“My grandfather refused to be taken away,” the grandson added. “He is shattered, very tired. He was sitting on a chair when he was hit with a club.”

He also said his grandmother Mrs Tapie is “doing well” after receiving hospital treatment.

The burglars reportedly stole two watches, including a Rolex, bracelets, earrings and a ring after breaking through a first-floor window, undetected by security, at their vast estate known as the Moulin de Breuil home.

Tapie, who has stomach cancer, made a fortune in the early part of his career by taking over failing companies and was briefly minister for urban affairs in Francois Mitterand’s government in 1992.

But he has endured many legal troubles, spending five months in prison in 1997 after being found guilty for corruption, tax fraud and misuse of corporate assets. He was also stripped of the right to stand in any election in France.

After his release, Tapie dabbled in showbiz and tried his hand at acting and hosting radio and TV shows.

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