Bernard Arnault is a French business magnate and entrepreneur. He is currently the richest man in the world, with an estimated fortune of approximately $203 billion as of this year. Although he is the richest man in the world, what has he done for charity? Please keep reading to learn more about Bernard Arnault and his charitable contributions over the years.
Who is Bernard Arnault?
Bernard Arnault is known for owning several luxury brands under the LVMH Moët Hennessy conglomerate. The company also owns Louis Vuitton SE. His conglomerate is the world's largest luxury goods corporation in the world. He entered the professional world in 1971 as the president of Ferret-Savinel.
He served from 1978 until 1984. He partnered with Lazard Freres to purchase the Financiere Agache, a luxury goods company. Because of this business arrangement, we could purchase the Boussac Saint-Freres textile and conglomerate, which at the time owned Cristian Dior. He went on to acquire Le Con Marche, Peaudoce, and Conforma.
The Early Life of Bernard Arnault
Bernard Arnault was born on March 5, 1949, as Bernard Jean Etienne Arnault in Roubaix. He is the son of Marie-Joseph Savinel and Jean Leon Arnault. He comes from a family with a deep appreciation for fashion, especially Dior. He attended Lycee Maxence Van Der Meerschaum, located in Roubaix.
He also went to Lycee Faidherbe. He graduated from engineering school at Ecole Polytechnique. He began his professional career working for his father. After a few years, he convinced his father to pursue real estate endeavors. The group renamed itself the George V Group. The corporation was sold to an investor and eventually became Nexity.
Bernard Arnault has married twice. The first time was in 1973 with Anne Dewavrin. They had Antoine and Delphine during their marriage. However, it didn't work out, and they separated in 1990, and he later married his current wife, Helene Mercier. They later had Frederic, Jean, and Alexandre. All of his children work for LVMH.
His daughter is currently in a long-time relationship with billionaire Xavier Neil and is set to become the Executive Officer of Dior beginning in February of 2023. His son Alexandre presides over Tiffany & Co. Jean works at Louis Vuitton as the Director of Marketing and Development, and his son Frederic works at TAG Hebert as its CEO.
Arnault wanted to create a luxury brand group, so he began working with Alain Chevalier. He was the CEO of the Moët Hennessy company. He also teamed up with the president of Louis Vuitton, Henry Racamier, in 1987 to form the LVMH group.
Arnault offered $1.5 billion and teamed up with Guinness. However, the company's early years were riddled with issues, including hostile takeover attempts by Henry Racamier.
He spent millions of his fortune on gaining the majority of shares of LVMH. He then had the blocking majority of shares, preventing further action from dismantling the company. In 1989, after the exit of Racamier, he was elected as the Chairman of the board. He went on to acquire more luxury brands with LVMH, including Celine and Christian Lacroix. He also bought Berluti, Kenzo, and La Tribune newspapers.
A few years later, he acquired Guerlain, Loewe, Marc Jacobs, Thomas Pink, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, DKNY, and finally, La Samaritaine. These acquisitions all occurred in 2001.
Bernard Arnault doesn't solely operate his business endeavors through LVMH. He also works with Blue Capital. He invested in Carrefour, which is France's largest grocery chain. He also purchased Princess Cruises in 2009 for over $250 million. He also took over Royal van Lent.
After these endeavors, he focused on the luxury goods market again with his purchase of Bulgaria for $5.2 billion in 2011. He also helped establish LCapitalAsia, which went on to help create the QDA clothing brand by working with Arnault's clothing company Xin Hee Co, Ltd. The company recently bought Tiffany & Co for $16.8 billion, which is, to date, the largest luxury acquisition in history.
Bernard Arnault Charity Work
One of the most noteworthy ways Bernard Arnault contributes to causes is through LVMH Corporate Philanthropy. This organization focuses on donating to the arts and culture. One particular interest is funding the repair and renovation of historical sites. Last year, he donated $200 million to assist with the restoration of Notre Dame cathedral after the fire destroyed it years earlier.
However, LVMH assists with other worthy causes too. The organization donated over $11 million to assist with the Amazon wildfire blazes. This money provides a way to help extinguish fires and assist with recovery operations.
At the beginning of the pandemic, LVMH gave over $2 million to the Chinese Red Cross to help with COVID relief. The company also used three luxury perfume factories to manufacture hand sanitizer to help with COVID relief globally. His company used the already present alcohol supplies stored at those facilities to create hand sanitizer quickly.
He not only had the products necessary to manufacture hand sanitizer, but he also had the containers and packaging to complete the process because they have shampoo and lotion distribution at those sites for hotel use. At the distribution peak, they were generating over 80 tons per week.
Bernard Arnault is the richest man in the world, but he is also very generous and focuses a lot of attention on donating to worthy causes. However, he got unwanted criticism when he donated over $200 million to help rebuild the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris after a fire nearly destroyed the centuries-old structure. Still, he enjoys donating to historical reconstruction causes and the arts.
Aside from his love of historical landmarks and desire to restore them, he also helps with global crisis issues. He donated $11 million to fight the fires ravaging the Amazon and assist with conservation efforts. He also provides donations to organizations whose purpose is to preserve art and culture. During the pandemic, he was one of the first major contributors to donate funds to the Chinese Red Cross to assist in the containment and treatment of COVID during the initial stages of the outbreak. His efforts had a noticeable impact on containing the virus.
Bernard Arnault continues to do most of his philanthropy work through his LVHM corporation, but he is known to donate privately to worthy causes. He has yet to sign a pledge to give away the bulk of his fortune, unlike other wealthy billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, but he still has a personal commitment to doing good in the work to create change and preserve history.
You can also read:
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn