The two men were featured in the 2008 two-part film Mesrine, starring Vincent Cassel in the title role. Bauer acted as an advisor to the movie’s producers, with actor Gérard Lanvin taking his role.
“He was a revolutionary, every day, from breakfast onwards,” his wife, Renée, told newspaper Libération.
She was with him when he fell ill at their home in Montargis in the Loiret department, south of Paris. By the time paramedics had arrived he had collapsed. “They tried to revive him for three quarters of an hour. It was awful,” she said.
Bauer, who described himself as a “professional revolutionary and writer” spent 25 years of his life in prison.
He was born in L’Estaque in Marseille in 1943 and joined the young communists at the age of eight.
Seeing himself as a modern day Robin Hood, Bauer would rob luxury boutiques and distribute the proceeds in poor areas. The law caught up with him and at the age of 19 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
It was during his spell in jail that he met his wife, Renée, a teacher who wrote to him after a colleague had told her about an “extraordinary man” in the prison in the northern town of Lisieux.
She encouraged him to finish his education, which he did, acquiring degrees in philosophy, sociology and a doctorate in social anthropology.
He was released after 14 years but went on to spend a further 11 years behind bars. It was while he was in the high security La Santé prison in Paris that he met and became friends with Jacques Mesrine.
Mesrine, who had become “public enemy number one” by 1979 after a series of robberies and kidnappings, was eventually shot dead in a police attack in the north of Paris in November of that year.
After leaving prison Bauer wrote a best-selling book about his experiences and became a campaigner for prisoners’ rights.
Described by his wife as a “force of nature”, Bauer himself once said “I’m a bad father and husband. I’ve only got one wife, that’s the revolution, but boy is she a good shag.”