Bernard Arnault is currently featured in third place on the rich list and is the wealthiest European on the list, currently worth over $85 billion. He is the Chair and CEO of LVMH and his business empire stretched to 70 different brands, including having bought nearly all of Christian Dior, which stretched his fortune significantly.
Arnault started off in business on the right footing, working first for his father’s successful construction company, although it was Bernard who convinced the family to switch the business from construction to property more generally, specialising in holiday accommodation and growing the company as a result.
It was in the mid-1980s that Arnault began to get involved in the luxury goods that he would become known for. In 1984 he acquired Financière Agache, a company specialising in luxury items and in turn, as CEO, got involved with a struggling company called Boussac Saint-Frères which owned Christian Dior.
LVMH was formed in the late 1980s, merging two separate companies. Arnault was the first shareholder, spending $600million on 13.5% of the business. Not a small amount! Under his leadership over time he has transformed the company and it is now one of the largest luxury goods companies in the world.
Some of Arnault’s other investments
You might not know that Arnault owns a percentage of Netflix, bought in 1999; as well as 10.69% of France’s largest supermarket Carrefour. He also owns a yacht business: Princess Yachts.
Arnault is a notable collector of art and owns pieces by Picasso, Andy Warhol and Henry Moore. He is married to a Canadian pianist called Hélène Mercier-Arnault and they have three sons. He also has a son and a daughter with his first wife Anne Dewavrin.