Bernard Arnault is the chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, known as LVMH. The company is the world’s largest maker of luxury goods. LVMH is made up of 70 companies including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Dom Perignon, and others. For his efforts, he has been rewarded with a net worth of $108 billion. He is the richest person in Europe, by far. He is the richest person in France, by far. He is the richest person in the fashion industry, by far. Now, reports are coming in that he just made an additional $5.1 billion in a 48-hour time span. How’d he do it? And, how does he spend his vast riches?
The addition to his net worth is due to a surge in the share price of LVMH. By our calculations, Arnault is the second-richest person in the world, with $1 billion more than Bill Gates. Arnault has been the chairman and CEO of LVMH since 1989. The company is a family business. Four of his five children work at LVMH or one of its brands. Arnault owns a 96.5% stake in Christian Dior. LVMH had more than $53 billion in revenue in 2018. LVMH has been on a run for the last few years, the company posted record sales of $42.6 billion Euros in 2017.
Arnault made news in April 2019 when he pledged more than $200 million to the effort to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral after a catastrophic fire decimated it.
Bernard Arnault was born in 1949 and grew up in northern France in the town of Roubaix. He went to the Ecole Polytechnique to study engineering. After graduation, he worked for his dad at his construction company for a bit before getting into the luxury goods industry.
He married Anne Dewavrin in 1973. He had two children – Delphine and Antoine before divorcing in 1990. In 1991, Arnault married pianist Helene Mercier. They have three children together – Alexandre, Frederic, and Jean.
His oldest child, Delphine, is the heir apparent to the LVMH empire. This year, she became the youngest member of the company executive committee, at 43. Antoine is chief executive of the menswear label Berluti and chairman of cashmere label Loro Piana, both part of the LVMH empire. He is also the head of communications and image for LVMH. Alexandre Arnault is the CEO of LVMH owned German luggage brand Rimowa. The company brings in more than $455 million in revenue annually. He travels between Cologne, Germany where Rimowa is made, London, Paris, and Los Angeles, where Rimowa has a store.
Frederic is the strategy and digital director at TAG Heuer, LVMH’s biggest watch brand. He graduated from Ecole Polytechnique. He interned at Facebook before he joined LVMH’s TAG Heuer in 2017. Jean, Arnault’s youngest son, is the only one of his children who doesn’t work at LVMH. At least not yet. Considering he is the youngest of his parents’ three children and they got married in 1991, at the most he is 26.
In addition to his Paris residence and vacation home in Saint-Tropez, Arnault has spent nearly $97 million on residential properties in Los Angeles’s Beverly Hills, Trousdale Estates, and Hollywood Hills neighborhoods.
Arnault has built LVMH into the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate, earning the nickname “the wolf in the cashmere coat” along the way.