Bernard Arnault and family, owners of French Luxury group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), have briefly surpassed and dethroned Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest. Earlier this month, he had overtaken Tesla’s celebrity chief executive Elon Musk to become the world’s second richest person.
Arnault’s net worth has been estimated at $186.2 billion, according to Forbes. In the last one and half years, Bernard Arnault’s net worth rose by $110 billion taking his overall net worth to $161.2 billion. Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy is a symbol of luxury and it has reported a 32% yearly surge in the revenue to 14 billion euros in the first quarter of 2021.
LVMH Moët Hennessy — Louis Vuitton is a uniquely diversified group which specialises in luxury products, be it wine, champagne, leather goods, apparel, perfumes, cosmetics, watches, jewellery, etc. Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer, Bulgari, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior, Moët & Chandon are some of the notable brands under LVMH Moët Hennessy — Louis Vuitton group.
Earlier this year, LVMH acquired America’s largest jewellery maker Tiffany & Co. for $15.8 million which is the largest deal in the luxury fashion business to date. Bernard Arnault’s LVMH oversees an empire of 70 brands including Givenchy, Guerlain, Marc Jacobs, Sephora, Tiffany & Co., Emilio Pucci, Fendi, Loro Piana, Nicholas Kirkwood, Thomas Pink, R.M Williams, EDUN, Moynat and Donna Karen, along with a host of jewellery brands, including TAG Heuer, De Beers and Bulgari. Arnault owns a 96.5 per cent stake in Christian Dior, which controls 41 per cent of LVMH.
Bernard Arnault dared to be unconventional:
After graduating with an engineering degree in 1971, he joined his father’s company, Ferinel. In 1976, he convinced his father to liquidate the construction division of the company, and change focus to real estate. Developed a speciality in holiday accommodation. Bernard then became CEO in 1977 and succeeded his father as president of the company. In 1984 he used the success of Ferinel to acquire the fledgeling textile company which owned the Christian Dior brand. He sold most of the companies’ assets and kept only the prestigious Christian Dior brand. He was able to leverage the sale of other parts of the company, and the success of the resurgent Christian Dior to buy a controlling interest in LVMH.
In the late 1980s two major brands, Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy merged. Moet Hennessy is a reputed champagne producer. Bernard provided $1.5 billion making him LVMH’s largest shareholder. By 1989, Bernard owned 43.5% of the company and was unanimously elected chairman of the executive management board. LVMH was stratospherically successful. Consequently, the share value of LVMH has soared along with Bernard’s net worth helping him knock Bill Gates off the number 2 spot on the global rich list. Bernard’s wealth is now more than 3% of the French economy and is likely to continue growing. Bernard Arnault also invested in Netflix in 1999 and has a large art portfolio.