Now that Bernard Arnault has vaulted to the top of the world’s richest person list, displacing Elon Musk, it is time to take a closer look at how he has been able to achieve this feat. Bernard Arnault net worth may be the highest in the world at the moment but he certainly keeps a very low profile. He lacks Musk’s bombast and propensity for headlines but he has quietly amassed a much larger fortune.
How Did He Achieve This Feat?
Arnault’s net worth is primarily sourced from his 48 percent stake in the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton company (commonly known as LVMH). He is the first European to claim the title and was able to do so after Musk’s Twitter acquisition caused his net worth to tumble from $340 billion to $163.3 billion. Many were (or are) not aware of this shift because Arnault lives a quiet existence.
His story begins in the nation of France, where he got his start working for his family’s construction company. It took him several years to work his way up the ladder but he eventually had the necessary funding for his first major investment. In 1984, he made a $15 million investment in Boussac Saint-Freres, a textile company.
The company was best known at the time for their ownership of the Christian Dior fashion line but back in 1984, they were in the process of facing bankruptcy. Arnault’s objective from that point on was a very simple one: he wanted to be able to return the company to profitability.
In 1989, the aforementioned LVMH purchase was made. Once the merger between Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy was made, this company was formed. Arnault has remained CEO and chairman of the company ever since then and he is still a pivotal part of the company in the present day. 75 brands are currently under the LVMH umbrella, as Arnault has his hands in a plethora of different businesses.
There are over 5,000 stores worldwide, offering wine, fashion, watches, jewelry, cosmetics, high-end spirits and luxury travel. Stella McCartney, Fendi and Givenchy are all underneath this umbrella as well. Last year, the company made its single biggest brand takeover ever. Tiffany & Co. was purchased by LVMH, at a price of $15.8 billion.
The company remains a behemoth in the marketplace in the present day, generating $68 billion in sales last year alone. Additionally, the company has a massive evaluation, clocking in at $386 billion, causing Arnault’s net worth to balloon.
What Is Bernard Arnault’s Net Worth?
Bloomberg states that Arnault’s current net worth rests at $170 billion. However, Forbes pegs his worth as being a bit higher, setting the bar at $190 billion. These figures would be even higher but they are said to have taken a hit due to the current circumstances that we are all living under. The economic markets have gotten much tougher and the COVID-19 pandemic’s fallout is still taking place, causing many companies to have lower sales and valuation figures than expected.
While many would be content with the fortune that they have amassed, Aranult is not currently showing any signs of slowing down whatsoever. In fact, LVMH is looking to accommodate him, allowing him to remain CEO as long as possible. The company once had an age cap for the role, as they were supposed to phase CEOs out of the position by the time they were 75.
For Arnault, the rules are actually being changed in real time. In early 2022, the company actually decided to raise the age limit from 75 to 80, allowing him to remain in the CEO role. Certainly, they would consider raising the age limit again if Arnault wanted to continue as CEO once he hits 80. At the very least, he will remain in the big seat for at least a few more years before any significant changes are made.
Does He Live the High Life?
Unlike his predecessor at the top of this list, Arnault shuns the spotlight and chooses to live a far more low-key life. He has the ability to live a luxurious life but he has taken steps to reduce the amount that he spends. For starters, he sold off the LVMH private jet. The fact that he was being tracked on Twitter probably had something to do with that as well.
To the extent that he does decide to display his wealth, he is much more of an art collector than anything else. He is said to have over $10 billion in cash and other various assets as well. Arnault is also a father to five children. Delphine and Antoine are his two oldest, a product of his past marriage to Anne Dewavrin.
Hélène Mercier is his current wife and they have three children together: Alexandre, Frédéric, and Jean. All of the children are currently employed at LVMH, but it is believed that the company will be handed down to Delphine when Bernard is ready to do so. She is currently the executive vice president at Louis Vuitton.
He's Still Hands On
That is not to say that Arnault does not remain very hands on with the company. In addition to regularly stopping by the LVMH stores around the world, he also pays a visit to their competitors. He views himself as a French ambassador and it is a position that he takes with the utmost level of seriousness.
“I see myself as an ambassador of French heritage and French culture,” he said in a 2010 interview with Forbes. “What we create is emblematic.” The majority of his fortune is tied to the aforementioned valuation and LVMH stock prices, which have continued to rise. In the past two years, the company’s stock price has skyrocketed, going up by 65 percent.
Who Is He Inspired By?
Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is Arnault’s biggest inspiration, as he has spoken glowingly of him on multiple occasions. “He is a long-term investor and has brilliant ideas and he sticks to them,” he said of Buffet in a 2017 interview with Forbes. He also referred to him as the person that he admires most in the business world.
The aspect of Buffet’s success that speaks most to Arnault is his willingness to buy and hold. He is not someone who generally goes for get rich quick schemes. His dedication to patience is something that has stuck with Arnault and it guides all of his decision making processes. For example, his Bulgari purchase was built on his principle.
He wanted to purchase the company for a very long time, but he decided to take his time and wait for the right moment to pounce. It took him 10 years before the big moment finally arrived, but he did not waste it. The company was acquired in 2011. Arnault is also said to be inspired by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
The admiration even extends in both directions, as Jobs sought out Arnault for advice on how to handle the launch of Apple’s retail stores. With all these men, there are some striking similarities. Their commitment to embracing creatively and standing on their own principles allowed all of them to prosper to the fullest. One thing is for sure: Arnault is not done yet.
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Written by Allen Lee
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