With a net worth of USD 187 billion as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index on 1 June 2023, Bernard Arnault is the second-richest person in the world.
The French business magnet is the chairman and CEO of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. He has been spearheading the company – the world’s largest luxury products maker – since 1989.
On 5 April 2023, he became only the third person to exceed the USD 200-billion-mark, as per Bloomberg. It was the first time that Arnault entered the highly exclusive club, which has previously been graced by the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. As such, Arnault became the first person outside the US to have a net worth of over USD 200 billion at the time.
Bernard Arnault: A quick backgrounder
Arnault graduated as an engineer from École Polytechnique in Paris, France. He started working as an engineer at his father’s construction company – Ferret-Savinel. He became the company’s chairman in 1978, and also had it renamed to Férinel Inc., with a reoriented focus on real estate.
Arnault remained with the company till 1984. He used USD 15 million of his own wealth to raise a total of USD 80 million required to purchase Boussac Saint-Frères. This marked a turning point in his career as Boussac Saint-Frères owned the fashion house, Christian Dior.
On the personal front, Arnault’s family includes his second wife, Hélène Mercier. He has five children – Delphine, Antoine, Alexandre, Frédéric and Jean. All five are involved with LVMH in various capacities.
LVMH and its rise
Arnault began investing in LVMH in 1987 at the request of the then-chairman of the company, Henri Racamier. By 1989, Arnault became the largest shareholder of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, simply known as LVMH, and ousted Racamier.
Arnault, who is nicknamed “the wolf in the cashmere coat,” turned LVMH into the behemoth it is today.
He was instrumental in bringing a series of top fashion and luxury lifestyle brands under the company’s umbrella, including Givenchy, Céline, Berluti, Christian Lacroix, Sephora, Fendi and Tiffany & Co.
The revenue generated by all the companies under the LVMH umbrella is the principal source of Arnault’s net worth.
How and where does Arnault spend his money?
Superyachts and private aircraft
The world’s second-richest man Bernard Arnault has used his enormous wealth to amass some of the most expensive things money can buy. He purchased luxury Dutch yacht building firm Royal Van Lent and British yacht maker Princess Yachts International in 2008.
He owns the superyacht Symphony. He sold his superyacht, Amadeus, in 2015, which was originally built in 1969.
Not just the seas, Arnault flies around the world in style. His private jet, a Dassault Falcon 7X, reportedly cost him USD 40 million. It is not the only aircraft in his fleet as Arnault also owns an ultra-long-range Bombardier Global 7500. He previously owned a Bombardier Global Express 6000 as well.
Private island and homes
Arnault owns a 135-acre private island in the Bahamas. The Caribbean destination is named Indigo Island. Of course, it is not known if Arnault zips around the waves in Symphony to his private island.
The LVMH boss has a house in Paris, the city where the company has its headquarters. He has reportedly spent around USD 96 million on residential properties in multiple places in Los Angeles, the US, in plush neighbourhoods of Beverly Hills, Trousdale Estates and Hollywood Hills.
But it is his chateau-style waterfront mansion in Saint-Tropez, France, that truly symbolises his stature as one of the richest persons in the world.
The massive property has a theatre, an outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court and multiple bedrooms. There are also separate quarters for staff.
Arnault is also famous for his art collection. He has masterpieces from the likes of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Pablo Picasso and others in his Paris home. The collection is worth many millions of dollars.