Bernard Arnault is a French billionaire, the wealthiest person in the world, and one of the most influential people in the world according to the latest Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The 69-year-old French business magnate and investor has an estimated over $100 billion net worth.
Arnault is the Chairman and CEO of the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH, and its subsidiaries, which includes over 60 luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon, Christian Dior and Fendi. He also owns the stakes in various ventures, including the world’s largest publicly traded real estate company, Financière Agache, and the world’s second-largest hotel company, AccorHotels.
Early Life and Career
Born in Roubaix, France, in 1949, Bernard Arnault is the son of a highly successful French industrialist who headed a family-controlled construction firm. He studied engineering at the École Polytechnique in Paris, and then went on to study at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris. In 1971, Arnault began working for his father’s company, becoming CEO in 1978. After his father’s death in 1979, Arnault took control of the family business and began to rapidly expand it.
Arnault’s Rise to Become the World’s Richest Man
In 1984, Arnault acquired the troubled luxury goods maker, Louis Vuitton, and two years later he merged it with the Moët Hennessy spirits business. The result was LVMH, which went on to become the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate. Arnault used his expertise as an industrialist, and his eye for luxury, to rapidly expand the company, acquiring more luxury brands and turning LVMH into a global powerhouse.
Today, Bernault is reported to be worth $102 billion, giving him the title of the World’s Richest Man – leapfrogging Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, who is currently worth $97.5 billion.
Arnault’s Most Notable Investments in Luxury Goods
Arnault is a master at finding, acquiring, and developing luxury brands. Among his most notable investments have been:
Louis Vuitton: perhaps Arnault’s most successful investment, the iconic French fashion brand is known for its quality leather goods and high-end fashion. Arnault has taken the brand to the world with flagship stores in some of the world’s biggest cities.
Christian Dior: Arnault purchased majority stakes in the fashion house in 1985. He then appointed designer John Galliano to head the house, leading to a period of explosive growth and success. Today, Dior is one of the world’s leading luxury fashion labels and LVMH’s most profitable brand.
Bulgari: In 2011, Arnault purchased an 80 percent stake in the Italian luxury jewelry and watch brand. He has since expanded the brand’s presence in China and other key luxury markets.
Fendi: In 2012, Arnault purchased a majority stake in the Italian fashion house, known for its luxury furs and leather goods. He has since taken the label to a new level with a series of ambitious collaborations and expansion of the brand retail stores worldwide.
Arnault’s Ventures Outside of the Luxury Goods Industry
In addition to his luxury goods investments, Arnault is also the owner of Financière Agache, the world’s largest publicly traded real estate company. He has also invested in the world’s second-largest hotel company, AccorHotels. In 2011, Arnault purchased a stake in the Italian bank, Banca Ibila, and in 2014 he acquired a 20 percent stake in Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retail company.
Bernard Arnault has earned his place at the top of the world’s wealthiest persons, rocketing from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of luxury and success. His astute eye for spotting luxury trends and his knack for finding undervalued assets have been the foundation for his wealth and success. He is living proof of the power of leadership and the importance of taking calculated risks. His example as a global leader and innovator is one that can provide inspiration to the world.