Bernard Arnault has become the richest person in the world. So who is he? | CNN Business


Bernard Arnault, head of French luxury goods giant LVMH, has become the first European to top Bloomberg’s list of the world’s richest people, bringing Elon Musk to the top of the list of the world’s richest people. Second place.

Now worth $171 billion, Arnault’s fortune surpassed the Tesla CEO’s $164 billion on Tuesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Arnault had already ousted Musk from the top of Forbes’ list of “real-time billionaires” last week.

Musk’s net worth has fallen by $107 billion this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Arnault’s fortune, which stems from his controlling stake in LVMH, suffered a more modest $7 billion decline.

The difference is due in part to the stock performance of the companies in which the couple owns shares. Musk’s purchase of Twitter (TWTR) didn’t help either. However, he’s not in imminent danger of falling further down the list: his wealth is still comfortably larger than that of Indian industrialist Gautam Adani ($125 billion) and Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos ($116 billion), who are third and fourth in the list. Bloomberg List.

While Tesla (TSLA) share price is down 54% this year, LVMH stock has held steady, helped by strong sales in the US and Europe. The luxury goods market has remained relatively flat this year, even as rising inflation prompted less affluent shoppers to alter their spending habits. LVMH has a market capitalization of €362.4 billion ($386 billion).

Born in Roubaix in northern France in 1949, Arnault graduated from the prestigious École Polytechnique, an engineering school in Paris. He began his career at the family-owned construction company, Ferret-Savinel, becoming Chairman of the Board in 1978 after successive promotions.

Six years later, he learned that the French government was looking for a new investor to take over Boussac Saint-Freres. The decadent textile group has a major asset: Christian Dior, Famous French fashion house.

Arnault bought control of the group, restored it to profitability and embarked on a strategy to develop the world’s leading luxury goods company. “In the process, he reinvigorated Christian Dior as the cornerstone of the new organisation,” according to a biography on the LVMH website.

Arnault bought a controlling stake in LVMH in 1989, two years after the group was formed through the merger of Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy. He has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company since then.

While his name may not be instantly recognizable to many, the brands Arnault has been instrumental in growing—from Christian Dior to Dom Pérignon—have become household names.

Over the past three decades, Arnault has transformed LVMH into a luxury goods powerhouse with 75 labels selling wines and spirits, fashion, leather goods, fragrances, cosmetics, watches, jewelry, and luxury travel and hotel stays. The first Louis Vuitton store in China opened in Beijing in 1992.

In January 2021, the group completed the $15.8 billion acquisition of iconic American jewelry company Tiffany & Co., the largest acquisition ever in the luxury jewelry industry.

Arnault’s philanthropic endeavors are primarily pursued through LVMH, which focuses its sponsorship on arts and culture. In 2019, the group donated 200 million euros ($212 million) to help rebuild Notre Dame after a massive fire ripped through the Paris cathedral.

Arnault has long held the title of richest person in Europe, but the 73-year-old keeps a much lower profile than Musk and is not personally active on any major social media platforms. In October, he told LVMH-owned Radio Classic that he had sold his private jet because he had been shamed on Twitter for his frequent use of the jet.

Arnault is married with five children, all of whom currently work for LVMH or one of its brands, according to Bloomberg.

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