When Elon Musk lost more than $200 billion in net worth, it created an opening at the top of the list of the world’s wealthiest people.
That would be Bernard Arnault, 73, co-founder and chief executive officer of LVMH, the French luxury goods company responsible for such well-known labels as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and Christian Dior.
Last month, Arnault overtook Musk as the world’s richest person. According to data compiled by Forbes and Bloomberg, he still retains that position today. Let’s have a look at Who is Bernard Arnault.
Who is Bernard Arnault?
Surely you’ve heard of the French multi-billionaire. He has consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people, and in 2021 he briefly overtook Jeff Bezos of Amazon to take the top slot before being dethroned by Elon Musk.
Arnault, the son of a construction mogul, took over the family business in the 1970s, shifted its focus to real estate, and is now involved in the textiles and retail industries.
When he used $15 million borrowed from his family’s company to purchase Christian Dior from its bankrupt owners in 1985, he laid the groundwork for what would eventually become LVMH. He is still the majority shareholder (97.5%) of the prestigious French fashion house.
For the next three decades and change, Arnault grew his luxury retail empire by acquiring a majority interest in LVMH, the holding company formed when Louis Vuitton and the spirits giant Moet Hennessy merged.
He now has a controlling interest in LVMH, a company worth over $390 billion. The company’s sales for the first nine months of 2022 were approximately $60 billion.
Arnault is rumored to visit as many as 25 stores per day to keep an eye on how his brands and competitors are doing in the marketplace. He has also openly boasted about his role in preserving and expanding the careers of some of France’s most prestigious fashion houses and designers.
In 2010, he told Forbes, “I regard myself as an ambassador of French heritage and French culture.” What we produce serves as a symbol.
What Was Bernard Arnault’s Secret to Becoming the Wealthiest Man on Earth?
Arnault’s rise to the top of the billionaire rankings coincided with Musk’s dramatic loss of fortune after the October 2022 Twitter takeover, when the Tesla and SpaceX CEO lost control of the social media platform.
Despite the volatility of the markets, Arnault’s fortune has remained relatively stable in recent months. Since 2020, Arnault has seen roughly 65% of his fortune increase thanks to the rise in LVMH stock price.
Arnault’s personal wealth has similarly increased by tens of billions of dollars throughout that time. After a brief downturn in demand due to the epidemic, demand for luxury products has rebounded, and Forbes estimates that Arnault’s fortune more than doubled to $150 billion last year.
What Are Arnault’s Biggest Business Inspirations?
Arnault has said that Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is the greatest business influence among his fellow billionaires.
Forbes quoted Arnault as saying of the famous investor, “He is a long-term investor and has fantastic ideas and he sticks to them,” in 2017.
Buffett is known for his “buy and hold” investment philosophy, which emphasizes patience over constant market monitoring.
Similar to how patience is deemed “a vital quality in business” by Arnault. He pursued the Italian jewelry manufacturer Bulgari for ten years before buying it in 2011 when it was in financial trouble.
But, it would appear that Arnault hasn’t taken all of Buffett’s advice.
According to Bloomberg, Buffett has given away more than $45 billion to charity since 2006. He promised half of his fortune to charity before his death in 2010 when he co-founded the Giving Pledge.
At least in public, Arnault has not offered any such assurances. In 2019, his family committed a $226 million donation to help restore the iconic Notre Dame church in Paris, which had suffered a terrible fire the previous year. This was his most publicized act of generosity.
When reached for comment by CNBC Make It, Arnault did not immediately answer.
Arnault looks up to a number of American business giants, not only Buffett. The head of LVMH has also spoken highly of Apple’s late creator, Steve Jobs.
Arnault told Forbes in 2017 that Jobs had asked him for guidance on how to best open Apple retail locations, suggesting that the adulation went both ways.
Arnault explained Jobs’ success at Apple by saying that “a combination of inventiveness and a great grasp of how to manage for growth” was responsible for his achievements. He went on to say that the CEO of LVMH needs to take a similar tack in order to “convert creativity into business realities all over the world.”
‘To do this, you need to be connected to innovators and designers, but you also need to make their ideas livable and concrete,’ he said.
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