Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière was born on November 6, 1940 in Nice. From 1968 to 1970, he attended the École nationale d'administration.
In 1961, he started a teen magazine and sold it off a few years later. He then worked for Suez, Masson, and Valeurs Actuelles. He worked for L'Oréal for fifteen years, and was its CEO for a while. He served as the Chairman of Duff & Phelps. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Renault, L'Oréal, Groupe Casino, Gilbert Coullier Productions, Cassina, and Canal Plus. He is Honorary Chairman of the Comité national des conseillers du commerce extérieur de la France (French National Committee of Foreign Trade Advisors), and a member of the Consultative Committee of Banque de France. He is a former member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.
He sits on the Board of the American Friends of the Louvre. He helped renovate the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris. He is a former Vice-Chairman of Fondation Agir Contre l'Exclusion (FACE), which he co-founded with Martine Aubry. He is also a member of the Fondation Culture et Diversité, Conseil artistique des musées nationaux, Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, Musée des arts décoratifs, the Société des Amis du Musée du quai Branly. In 2006, he was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. In August 2010, he was named Goodwill Ambassador for the UNESCO. He is the President of the Revue des deux Mondes.
On the Forbes 2016 list of the world's billionaires, he was ranked #722 with a net worth of US$2.4 billion.