Will Death of Ex-Saatchi CEO Dreyfus Lift Curse of Marseille?

Last Updated Jul 6, 2009 5:16 PM EDT

While Ad Age respectfully mourns the death from leukemia of former Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus on July 4, cynics will be asking a less reverent question: Will the passing of this convicted criminal finally lift the curse that has dogged Olympique de Marseille, the French soccer team he owned?

Marseille won the French Ligue 1 eight times, the Europe-wide Champions League once and the Coupe de France a record 10 times. But since Dreyfus acquired the team in 1993, the year he exited Saatchi, Marseille has not won a major trophy.

Marseilles' chances were not helped when Dreyfus was convicted for making illegal transfer payments for players in 2006. According to France 24:

Louis-Dreyfus was originally sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term and a 375,000 euros fine, when convicted for abuse of company assets.
He had been accused of embezzling €22 million in club funds through hidden player bonuses.

What success the man had in business he seemed to lose on the football pitch. As Age notes, he turned around an ailing Saatchi, and then did the same at Adidas. But at Marseille he had the anti-Midas touch. He invested €200 million but got into wars with popular managers and coaches. Ultimately, the Marseille trophy cabinet remained bare during his tenure of 12 years.

Dreyfus was 63.

Bonus fact: He was Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus' cousin.