Bernard Arnault

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Bernard Arnault
Bernard Arnault (3) - 2017 (cropped).jpg
Arnault in 2017
Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault

(1949-03-05) 5 March 1949 (age 71)
Roubaix, [France]
Alma materÉcole Polytechnique, Palaiseau
OccupationBusinessman, media proprietor, art collector
Net worthUS$113 billion (September 2020)[1]
TitleChairman and CEO, LVMH
Chairman, Christian Dior SE
Anne Dewavrin
(m. 1973; div. 1990)

Hélène Mercier
(m. 1991)

Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault (French: [bɛʁnaʁ ʒɑ̃ etjɛn aʁno]; born 5 March 1949) is a French billionaire businessman and art collector.[2][3] He is the chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, the world's largest luxury-goods company. In April 2018, he became the richest person in fashion, topping Zara's Amancio Ortega.[4] Arnault briefly surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the richest person in the world in December of 2019.[5] He again became the world's richest person for a short time in January 2020.[6] [1]

Early life

Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault was born on 5 March 1949, in Roubaix, France.[7][8] His father, manufacturer Jean Léon Arnault, was a graduate of École Centrale Paris.[8] 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.[8] 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.[9][10] In 1971, he graduated from the École Polytechnique, France's leading engineering school, and began work for his father's company.[8]


He began his career in 1971, working for Ferret-Savinel, a company owned by his father, and was its president from 1978 to 1984.[8][10]

Arnault with Vladimir Putin, 2016

Christian Dior

In 1984, with the help of Antoine Bernheim, a senior partner of Lazard Frères, Arnault acquired the Financière Agache, a luxury goods company.[11] He became the CEO of Financière Agache and subsequently took control of Boussac Saint-Frères, a textile company in turmoil. Boussac owned Christian Dior, the department store Le Bon Marché, the retail shop Conforama, and the diapers manufacturer Peaudouce. He sold nearly all the company's assets, keeping only the Christian Dior brand and Le Bon Marché department store.[12]


In July 1988, Arnault provided $1.5 billion to form a holding company with Guinness that held 24% of LVMH's shares. In response to rumors that the Louis Vuitton group was buying LVMH's stock to form a "blocking minority", Arnault spent $600 million to buy 13.5% more of LVMH, making him LVMH's largest shareholder. In January 1989, he spent another $500 million to gain control of a total of 43.5% of LVMH's shares and 35% of its voting rights, thus reaching the "blocking minority" that he needed to stop the dismantlement of the LVMH group. On 13 January 1989, he was unanimously elected chairman of the executive management board.[13]

Since then, Arnault has led the company through an ambitious development plan, transforming it into one of the largest luxury groups in the world, alongside Swiss luxury giant Richemont and French-based Kering. In eleven years, the sales and profit rose by a factor of 5, and the market value of LVMH multiplied by 15. He promoted decisions towards decentralizing the group's brands. As a result of these measures, the brands are now viewed as independent firms with their own history.

In July 1988, Arnault acquired Céline.[14] In 1993, LVMH acquired Berluti and Kenzo. In the same year, Arnault bought out the French economic newspaper La Tribune.[15] The company never achieved the desired success, despite his 150 million euro investment, and he sold it in November 2007 in order to buy a different French economic newspaper, Les Échos, for 240 million euros.[16][17]

In 1994, LVMH acquired the perfume firm Guerlain.[18] In 1996, Arnault bought out Loewe,[19] followed by Marc Jacobs and Sephora in 1997.[20] These brands were also integrated into the group: Thomas Pink in 1999, Emilio Pucci in 2000 and Fendi, DKNY and La Samaritaine in 2001.

In the 1990s, Arnault decided to develop a centre in New York to manage LVMH's presence in the United States. He chose Christian de Portzamparc to supervise this project.[21] The result was the LVMH Tower that opened in December 1999.[22]


From 2010 until 2013, Arnault was a member of the Board of Advisors of the Malaysian 1MDB fund. [23] [24] [25] [26]

Other investments

From 1998 to 2001, Arnault invested in a variety of web companies such as, Libertysurf, and Zebank through his holding Europatweb. Groupe Arnault also invested in Netflix in 1999.[27]

In 2007, Blue Capital announced that Arnault owns jointly with the California property firm Colony Capital 10.69% of France's largest supermarket retailer and the world's second-largest food distributor Carrefour.[28]

In 2008, he entered the yacht business and bought Princess Yachts for 253 million euros.[29] He subsequently took control of Royal van Lent for an almost identical amount.[30].

In 1998, with businessman Albert Frère he purchased Château Cheval Blanc in a personal capacity. LVMH acquired Arnault's share in 2009[31] to add to the group's other wine property Château d'Yquem.


Arnault's family pledged €200 million to help repair the Notre-Dame cathedral after a fire, said a statement issued on behalf of Arnault, but never did.[32]

Art collector

Arnault's collection includes work by Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore, and Andy Warhol. [33][34] He was also instrumental in establishing LVMH as a major patron of art in France.[35]

The LVMH Young Fashion Designer was created as an international competition open to students from fine-arts schools. Every year, the winner is awarded a grant to support the creation of the designer's own label and with a year of mentorship.[36][37]

From 1999 to 2003, he owned Phillips de Pury & Company, an art auction house, and bought out the first French auctioneer, Tajan.[38][39]

In 2006, Arnault started the building project of the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Dedicated to creation and contemporary art, the building was designed by the architect Frank Gehry.[40] The Foundation's grand opening at the Jardin d'Acclimatation Paris was held on 20 October 2014.[41]


Personal life

In 1973, he married Anne Dewavrin, and they had two children together, Delphine and Antoine.[8] They separated in 1990.[47] In 1991, he married Hélène Mercier, a Canadian concert pianist, and they have three children.[47] They live in Paris.[47]

His children Delphine, Antoine, Alexandre and Frédéric all have official roles in brands controlled by Arnault, along with his niece Stephanie Watine Arnault.[48]

Arnault owned the 70 m (230 ft) converted research vessel Amadeus, which was sold in late 2015.[49] His current 101.5 m (333 ft) yacht Symphony was built in the Netherlands by Feadship.[50]

Request for Belgian nationality

In 2013, it was disclosed that Arnault planned to apply for Belgian citizenship and was considering moving to Belgium.[51] In April 2013, Arnault said that he had been misquoted and that he never intended to leave France: "I repeatedly said that I would stay as a resident in France and that I would continue to pay my taxes.... Today, I decided to remove any ambiguity. I withdraw my request of Belgian nationality. Requesting Belgian nationality was to better protect the foundation that I created with the sole purpose of ensuring the continuity and integrity of the LVMH group if I were to disappear."[52] On 10 April 2013, Arnault announced he had decided to abandon his application for Belgian citizenship, saying he did not want the move to be misinterpreted as a measure of tax evasion, at a time when France faced economic and social challenges.[53] Arnault also stated several employees requested to leave France for tax purposes but he declined their requests, explaining "the 75% tax would not raise a lot of revenue but should prove less divisive, as now it was set to be levied on firms rather than people, and only due to stay in place for two years."[54]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Bloomberg profile:Bernard Arnault". Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Bernard Arnault & family". Forbes.
  3. ^ Galloni, Alessandra (5 March 2009). "Being LVMH's Bernard Arnault". WSJ. Magazine. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  4. ^ "LVMH's CEO Bernard Arnault Is Now the Richest Person in Fashion". Highsnobiety. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  5. ^ Kristin Stoller (16 December 2019). "French Billionaire Bernard Arnault Was (Briefly) The World's Richest Person Today". Forbes. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  6. ^ Hayley C. Cuccinello (17 January 2020). "Jeff Bezos Is No Longer The Richest Person In The World (Again)". Forbes. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Bernard Arnault: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer". LVMH. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Bernard Arnault: France's 'wolf-in-cashmere' billionaire". France24. 22 January 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Roubaix Quand Bernard Arnault était lycéen à Van-Der-Meersch". La Voix du Nord. 19 May 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Bernard Arnault, chairman, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton". New York Times. 23 November 2007. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  11. ^ Steven Greenhouse, Pivotal Figure Emerges In Moet-Vuitton Feud, NYTimes, 19 September 1988
  12. ^ Biography Bernard Arnault, Reference for Business
  13. ^ Steven Greenhouse, A luxury fight to the finish, New York Times, 17 December 1989
  14. ^ Steven Greenhouse, Pivotal Figure Emerges In Moet-Vuitton Feud, New York Times, 19 December 1988
  15. ^ Jacques Neher, Intimacy Proves Too Much for Guinness, LVMH, New York Times, 21 January 1994
  16. ^ Gwladys Fouché, La Tribune splash attacks paper's owner, The Guardian, 7 November 2007
  17. ^ "VMH buys Les Echos from Pearson". BBC. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  18. ^ Heather Connon, Arnault expands perfume empire: LVMH buys controlling stake in Guerlain, The Independent, 30 April 1994
  19. ^ LVMH says takes control of Spain's Loewe, Europolitics, 12 February 1996
  20. ^ Lvmh: Life Isn't All Champagne And Caviar, Business Week, 9 November 1997
  21. ^ Suzy Menkes, Bernard Arnault: Man Behind the Steely Mask, New York Times, 30 November 1999
  22. ^ Julie V. Iovine, Designing The Nouveau Building On the Block, New York Times, 15 December 1998
  23. ^ "Board of Advisors 1Malaysia Development Berhad". Archived from the original on 16 March 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Board of Advisors 1Malaysia Development Berhad". Archived from the original on 24 September 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Sidek appointed to 1MDB board". The Star Online. Kuala Lumpur. 30 July 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  26. ^ Simon Rowe (19 June 2016). "Goldman Sachs, a Nama letter and the links to a $6bn fraud probe". Irish Independent. Dublin, Ireland. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  27. ^ Secures $30 Million Investment from Group Arnault Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, 7 July 1999
  28. ^ Colony, Arnault Win Seats at Carrefour, DealBook, 30 April 2007
  29. ^ Ben Harrington, Bernard Arnault plots new course for Princess Yachts, The Telegraph, 3 June 2008
  30. ^ Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 45
  31. ^ Decanter (14 August 2009). "LVMH buys 50% share in Chateau Cheval Blanc". Decanter. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  32. ^ [1] Billionaire Arnault's family and LVMH to donate 200 mln euros for Paris' Notre-Dame, Reuters, 16 APRIL 2019
  33. ^ "Billionaire Art Collectors". Forbes. 6 March 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  34. ^ Hannah Elliott, In Luxury, Bernard Arnault Alone Makes the Most Powerful List, Forbes, 11 April 2010
  35. ^ Julie Zeveloff (28 June 2012). "The 10 Biggest Art Collectors Of 2012". Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  36. ^ Scarlett Kilcooley-O'Halloran, Tait Takes LVMH Prize Vogue UK, 28 May 2014
  37. ^ Sarah Jones, LVMH creates $400K design prize to cultivate young talent Luxury Daily, 12 November 2013
  38. ^ "Phillips de Pury & Company". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  39. ^ Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 85.
  40. ^ Alan Riding, Vuitton plans a Gehry-Designed Arts Center in Paris The New York Times, 3 October 2006
  41. ^ David Chazan, Frank Gehry 'Iceberg' art gallery to open in Paris The Telegraph, 19 October 2014
  42. ^ Lauren Milligan, Arnault Honour, Vogue, 18 July 2011
  43. ^ Christy Stewart, Mr. Arnault Goes to Washington: LVMH Corporate Citizen, Business Insider, 9 May 2011
  44. ^ Reuters Monday, 8 October 2012 (8 October 2012). "LVMH head Arnault to be knighted in London". Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  45. ^ Lockwood, Lisa (19 February 2014). "Bernard Arnault to Be Honored at MoMA Luncheon". WWD. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  46. ^ Maza, Erik (4 March 2014). "Bernard Arnault Receives MoMa's David Rockefeller Award". WWD. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  47. ^ a b c Warren, Katie; Rogers, Taylor Nicole (31 January 2020). "LVMH brought in a record-breaking $59 billion in revenue in 2019. Meet CEO Bernard Arnault, the world's 3rd-richest person, who's built a $98 billion fortune as head of the luxury giant". Business Insider. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  48. ^ "Another Arnault Steps Into the Spotlight". Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  49. ^ "Superyacht Amadeus". SuperYachtFan. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  50. ^ "Superyacht Symphony heading to sea". Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  51. ^ "France's deficit plan? Soak the rich". 9 October 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  52. ^ "Bernard Arnault : "Je retire ma demande de nationalité belge"". AFP. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2013. J'ai à plusieurs reprises expliqué que je resterais résident en France et que je continuerais d'y payer mes impôts. En vain: le message n'est passé. Aujourd'hui, j'ai décidé de lever toute équivoque. Je retire ma demande de nationalité belge.[...] Demander la nationalité belge visait à mieux protéger la fondation belge que j'ai créée, avec comme seul objectif d'assurer la pérennité et l'intégrité du groupe LVMH si je venais à disparaître et si mes ayants droit devaient ne pas s'entendre.
  53. ^ "LVMH's Arnault Withdraws Belgian Citizenship Bid", Wall Street Journal, 10 April 2013
  54. ^ "Bernard Arnault Withdraws Belgian Citizenship Bid". The Business of Fashion. Retrieved 19 November 2014.