A representative for EuropaCorp said that Lambert was diagnosed with lung cancer in March. He died overnight Thursday.
“The entire Europacorp is shocked, saddened and horrified by the death of Christophe Lambert,” Edouard de Vesinne, co-CEO of EuropaCorp, told Variety. De Vesinne, who was recently appointed, said EuropaCorp had no previous knowledge of Lambert’s terminal illness.
“We’ve just learned about the death of Christophe Lambert. In these terrible moments, the EuropaCorp family mourns his passing. EuropaCorp and all its collaborators are presenting their condolences to Marie Sara (his wife), children, family and his close ones,” said EuropaCorp in a statement.
Former Universal Pictures Chairman Marc Shmuger replaced Lambert as chief executive of the international production and distribution company last February. There was speculation at the time that Lambert was ousted. He insisted that he left his EuropaCorp job voluntarily.
Politically connected as a confidant of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Lambert joined EuropaCorp in 2010. He was a larger than life figure, who straddled several different business sectors, cutting a dashing and controversial figure in the industries he touched. After initially achieving success in the advertising world, he became one of the driving forces in the French film business.
His personal life was also colorful. He was married to legendary bullfighter Marie Sara. He was previously married to advertising executive Marie-Catherine Dupuy.
EuropaCorp was co-founded by Luc Besson, the director of “The Fifth Element” and “Lucy.” Lambert helped usher in the creation of the Cité du Cinéma, a sprawling film complex on the outskirts of Paris. He also pushed the company into domestic distribution, overseeing a joint venture with Relativity Studios.
Shortly before exiting EuropaCorp, Lambert helped cobble together the $170 million in financing to bring Besson’s passion project, the sci-fi epic “Valerian,” to the big screen.
Lambert was living in Marseille at the time of his death. In addition to Sara, he is survived by four children, ages 13 to 24.