Who is Bernard Arnault - New Richest Person in the World
Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH. (Photo: Quartz)

Bernard Arnault - New world's richest person

French fashion tycoon Bernard Arnault is the world’s richest person this time, with an estimated net worth of $186.3 billion—putting him $300 million above Jeff Bezos, who is worth $186 billion, and Elon Musk, worth $147.3 billion. Arnault’s fortune has jumped from $76 billion in March 2020 to $186.3 billion on Monday, a massive rise of over $110 billion in the past 14 months, thanks to a pandemic-defying performance by his luxury group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy).

Whereas Bezos built his fortune as the proprietor of the internet’s “everything store,” Arnault made his name and money from a collection of companies specializing in finely made leather goods, couture fashion, and high-end spirits.

Who is Bernard Arnault - New Richest Person in the World
Owner and CEO of LVMH Luxury Group Bernard Arnault and his wife Helene Arnault. (Photo: Getty)

Who is Bernard Arnault?

Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault, (born March 5, 1949, Roubaix, France), French businessman best known as the chairman and CEO of the French conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the largest luxury-products company in the world.

QUICK FACTS Bernard Arnault

*Full Name: Bernard Arnault

*Origin Full Name: Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault

*Famous as: French Billionaire, The Richest Man In Europe, The Richest Person in the World in 2021

*Born on (Birthday): 05 March 1949

*Born in: Roubaix, France

Bernard Arnault's biography

Personal Life, Family, Children and Heritage

He was born as Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault on 5 March 1949, in Roubaix, France as the son of Jean Leon Arnault. His father was a manufacturer who owned a civil engineering company, Ferret-Savinel. He attended Maxence Van Der Meersch High School in Roubaix. After completing his schooling he entered the prestigious École Polytechnique and graduated with a degree in engineering in 1971.

Bernard Arnault has been married twice. His second wife, Helene Mercier is a pianist. He has two children from his first marriage, and three from his second.

Children: Alexandre Arnault, Frederic Arnault, Antoine Arnault, Delphine Arnault, Jean Arnault.

His father, manufacturer Jean Léon Arnault, was a graduate of École Centrale Paris. His mother, Marie-Josèphe Savinel, had a "fascination for Dior", and was the daughter of Étienne Savinel, who entrusted her husband with the management of his civil engineering company Ferret-Savinel in 1950, and later its ownership. Ferret-Savinel later became Ferinel, and then the George V Group, before selling its real estate assets to Compagnie Générale des Eaux (CGE), and the real estate business eventually became Nexity.

Arnault was educated at the Lycée Maxence Van Der Meersch in Roubaix, and the Lycée Faidherbe in Lille. In 1971, he graduated from the École Polytechnique, France's leading engineering school, and began work for his father's company.


He was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honour in 2007 and Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour in 2011. In 2011, he was presented with the Corporate Citizenship award from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Who is Bernard Arnault - New Richest Person in the World
Bernard Arnault in 2010. (Photo: AFP)

Bernard Arnault's education and career

Arnault graduated from the École Polytechnique in Paris with a degree in engineering. In 1971 he took control of his father’s construction firm Ferret-Savinel. Eight years later he changed the company’s name to Férinel Inc. and shifted its focus to real estate, Britannica cited.

With $15 million of his own money, Arnault, together with Antoine Bernheim, a managing partner of the French bank Lazard Frères and Co., raised the $80 million necessary to purchase Boussac Saint-Frères, a bankrupt textile company that owned the fashion house of Christian Dior. Then, in 1987, Arnault was invited to invest in LVMH by the company’s chairman, Henri Racamier. Investing through a joint venture with Guinness PLC, Arnault ousted Racamier in 1990 and started to sweep a slew of fashion companies into the LVMH fold: Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, and Kenzo; the leather goods companies Loewe, Céline, and Berluti; the jeweler Fred Joailler; the DFS group (the world’s biggest duty-free chain); and the beauty retailer Sephora.

Arnault was known in Europe as the man who revitalized French couture in 1995 by appointing British fashion designer John Galliano to replace the venerable Hubert de Givenchy at the latter’s Paris fashion house. A year later the “Pope of Fashion,” as Arnault was dubbed by Women’s Wear Daily, moved Galliano to Christian Dior and appointed the brash British fashion designer Alexander McQueen to replace him at Givenchy. Arnault then hired Marc Jacobs, a young American designer, to the post of creative director at Louis Vuitton, a maker of luxury leather goods; that year, LVMH also acquired a majority stake in Jacobs’s eponymous line. Although all three designers eventually left their positions, Arnault’s fashion foresight had revived interest in these traditional fashion houses by the early 21st century.

Arnault continued to acquire luxury brands, including the Italian company Fendi (2003), the iconic French department store La Samaritaine (2010), Italian jewelry brand Bulgari (2011), and the classic American jeweler Tiffany & Co. (2021). He also built the Fondation Louis Vuitton (2014), a contemporary art museum in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, designed by Canadian American architect Frank Gehry. In 2007 Arnault was named Commander of the Legion of Honour, one of France’s highest distinctions.

Interesting Stories

He is a famous art collector and has pieces by Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore and Andy Warhol in his collection.

Who is Bernard Arnault - New Richest Person in the World
Louis Vuitton headquarters (Photo: Glassdoor)

What is LVMH?

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, commonly known as LVMH, is a French multinational corporation and conglomerate specializing in luxury goods, headquartered in Paris, France. The company was formed in 1987 through the merger of fashion house Louis Vuitton (founded in 1854) with Moët Hennessy, which was established after the 1971 merger between the champagne producer Moët & Chandon (founded in 1743) and the cognac producer Hennessy (founded in 1765).

In 2021 with a valuation of $329 billion, LVMH became the most valuable company in Europe. LVMH controls around 60 subsidiaries that each manage a small number of prestigious brands, 75 in total. These include Christian Dior, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Loro Piana, Kenzo, Celine, Fenty, Princess Yachts, and Bulgari. The subsidiaries are often managed independently, under the umbrellas of six branches: Fashion Group, Wines and Spirits, Perfumes and Cosmetics, Watches and Jewelry, Selective Distribution, and Other Activities. The oldest of the LVMH brands is wine producer Château d'Yquem, which dates its origins back to 1593.

Over the past several months, as LVMH has seen its sales come roaring back from the pandemic, particularly among Chinese and US shoppers, its stock price has soared, and Arnault’s wealth with it. By November, he had become the world’s second-richest person and was gaining ground on Bezos, according to Quartz.

LVMH, which also owns household names like Fendi, Christian Dior, and Givenchy, rose 0.4% during the first hours of trading on Monday, putting its market cap at $320 billion and pushing Arnault’s personal stake up by more than $600 million. LVMH and Arnault represent the remarkable rise of Europe’s luxury and fashion houses during the lockdown.

At the time, the Arnault family held 47.5% of LVMH’s shares, according to the company’s last annual report (pdf). In recent months, Arnault has spent about $538 million buying up more stock, the price of which keeps growing.

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