Bernard Arnault, the French fashion magnate of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, stands as one of the world’s wealthiest individuals. His estimated net worth as of mid-September 2023 is approximately $195.2 billion, however, earlier in April 2023 it briefly exceeded $240 billion which made him the most affluent person globally.
Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault was born into a working-class family in 1949. At age 12, with his mother’s permission, he quit school to join the soccer team Andorinha and later tried out for Sporting CP—the humble origins of his rise to fashion royalty. Despite a diagnosis of tachycardia that necessitated surgery, he persevered and overcame this setback with remarkable resilience.
Bernard Arnault’s net worth currently stands at $195.2 billion, making him the world’s second-richest person behind Tesla CEO Elon Musk ($264.9 billion). Both individuals had been vying for the title of the planet’s wealthiest throughout 2023; in late April, Arnault briefly overtook Musk with a net worth of $241.1 billion versus $167.4 billion (Forbes). LVMH and Tesla have significantly impacted their fortunes due to fluctuations in wealth across both companies.
LVMH, the empire of luxury brands presided over by Arnault, encompasses approximately 75 luxury brands through nearly 60 subsidiaries. This sprawling conglomerate touches various industries, and here are some notable brands within each category:
- Louis Vuitton
- Christian Dior
- Tiffany & Co.
- TAG Heuer
- Acqua di Parma
- Maison Francis Kurkdjian
- Le Bon Marché
- La Grande Epicerie
- Dom Pérignon
- Chateau d’Esclans
Arnault’s journey to success began with his father’s civil engineering firm, Ferret-Savinel, where he shifted the focus to real estate. In 1984, he teamed up with Lazard Frères and purchased Financière Agache, becoming CEO shortly after. He then made a pivotal move in securing Boussac Saint-Frères, a bankrupt conglomerate housing the affluent Christian Dior brand – giving him access and control of the business acumen.
Arnault streamlined Boussac’s operations upon taking control, consolidating Christian Dior and Le Bon Marché under LVMH. By 1989 he had secured 43.5% of the company’s shares and 35% of its voting rights through various acquisitions.
As befitting one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, Arnault revels in a lifestyle that reflects his immense wealth. He owns the superyacht Symphony and jets around the globe in a Dassault Falcon 7X, a private jet worth $40 million. His extravagant possessions extend to a 135-acre private island in the Bahamas and multiple residences, including a chateau-style waterfront mansion in Saint-Tropez, France.
Arnault’s penchant for collecting fine art is also legendary. His collection includes masterpieces by artists like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Pablo Picasso.
Bernard Arnault’s wealth is ever-changing, yet he stands out as one of the world’s wealthiest individuals. In June 2023, he attained a net worth of over $200 billion and briefly secured the top spot at that time. His journey to success reflects his shrewd business skills and capability to stay ahead in the continuously evolving global luxury market.