Arnault Bernard (1949). French entrepreneur. He leads the LVMH Group, an empire of luxury goods which includes Christian Dior, Lacroix, Louis Vuitton, Moét Hennessy, Kenzo, Guerlain and the Bon Marché department stores. He seemed to be destined for a career as a builder when, as a graduate of the École Polytechnique, he began to manage his father’s construction company. The turning point came in the early 1980s. Prompted to do so by the government, he purchased the textile group Boussac Saint-Frères, that back then was in bankruptcy. The group included the maison Dior, founded thanks to Boussac and Bon Marché’s financing. This was the beginning. In 1997, the group had a turnover of more than FFr 14,000 billion, with a net profit of FFr 1,336 billion.
In Winter 1999, he became the main stockholder of Gucci. But his control was blocked by an alliance between management and the French financier François Pinault. At the end of that year, on October 12, he acquired, together with Prada, 51% of Fendi.
Bernard Arnault Financial position
Bernard Arnault has beaten Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to become the world’s second-richest person behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Bill Gates has never ranked lower than second place in the seven-year history of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. But this time, things changed in the year as Arnault added $39 billion to his fortune in 2019, pushing his net worth to $107.6 billion, ahead of Gates by more than $200 million. Besides being a French business conglomerate, Bernard Arnault is also known for his art collection. His collection includes works by Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore, and Andy Warhol. He was also instrumental in establishing LVMH as a significant patron of art in France. He has also been awarded the honorary titles of Grand Officier de la Légion d’Honneur and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres.
In 2020, Bernard Arnault became the world’s second-richest person again, with a net worth of more than $137 billion, after a surge in LVMH’s share price. Arnault added $7 billion to his wealth, as European stocks and luxury companies soared on the back of the Covid-19 vaccine news from Pfizer. Europe’s richest man, who is chairman and CEO of LVMH, has added about $16 billion to his wealth. Forbes ranked Arnault as the second richest person in the world, behind Jeff Bezos, who is worth about $184 billion. Arnault captured the second-place spot in 2019 but fell in the rankings as LVMH stock plunged during the coronavirus pandemic. According to Forbes’s real-time tracking, Bill Gates, formerly number two, is now third with $119 billion.
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