Arnault in 2009.
|Born||Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault
5 March 1949
|Alma mater||École Polytechnique|
|Occupation||Business magnate, art collector|
|Net worth||US $ 29 billion (2013)|
|Title||Chairman & CEO of LVMH
Chairman of Christian Dior S.A.
|Spouse(s)||Anne Dewavrin (m. 1973–1990)
Hélène Mercier (m. 1991)
|Bernard Arnault - LVMH.com|
The value of his net worth is uncertain as according to Forbes in 2012 he was the fourth richest person in the world with a net worth of $41 billion  but according to the Billionaires Index, in January 2013 he was the 18th richest person (*excluding royal families and heads of state) in the world with an estimated net worth of $29 billion.
Early life and career 
Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault was born 5 March 1949, in Roubaix, France. His father Jean Leon Arnault was a manufacturer. Father's owner of a civil engineering company, Ferret-Savinel. After graduating from the Maxence Van Der Meersch High School in Roubaix, Bernard Arnault was admitted to the École Polytechnique (X1969) from which he graduated with an engineering degree in 1971.
Bernard Arnault has been married twice, and is the father of five children. As the director for LVMH, his daughter Delphine Arnault is actively involved in the management of the luxury group. His son Antoine Arnault is Head of Communications for Louis Vuitton. His second wife, Hélène Mercier, is a Canadian pianist from Quebec. The couple have three sons. His nephew Harry Seaman is also involved in LVMH, overseeing sales and he is currently researching in the U.K.
Bernard Arnault was a witness at President Nicolas Sarkozy's wedding to Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz. In January 2007 Kathryn Blair, the daughter of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, completed an intensive French language and culture course at France's Sorbonne University. Tony Blair has been criticised for accepting an invitation on her behalf from Bernard Arnault. During Kathryn Blair's course, which ran from 12 October 2006 to 26 January 2007, she is thought to have been provided with an accommodation, security and transport package worth around £80,000.
After graduation, in 1971, he joined his father's company. In 1976, he convinced his father to liquidate the construction division of the company for 40 million French francs, and to change the focus of the company to real estate. Using the name Férinel, the new company developed a specialty holiday accommodation. Named director of company building in 1974, he became CEO in 1977. In 1979, he succeeded his father as president of the company.
Christian Dior 
Arnault visited the United Sates, he disliked life there after 2 months and returned as the French Socialists switched to a more conservative economic course, Bernard Arnault returned to France and became the CEO of Financière Agache, a luxury goods company. With the help of Antoine Bernheim, a senior partner of Lazard Frères et Cie., the Paris office of Lazard Frères & Co., and government subsidies conferred in exchange for a promise not to downsize, Bernard Arnault acquired Boussac, a textile company in turmoil. Boussac owned Christian Dior, the department store Le Bon Marché, the retail shop Conforama and the diapers industrial Peaudouce. The Arnault family put up just $15 million of their own money, with Lazard supplying the rest of the reported $80 million purchase price. Following receipt of about 2 billion francs from the state in exchange of the promise to safeguard 16,000 jobs in the group, Bernard Arnault sent a letter to Laurent Fabius. In the letter he stated: "I will personally handle the management of DBSF and I will proceed to the setting up of the industrial and social plan as it was communicated to the administration." Bernard Arnault sold nearly all the company's assets, keeping only the prestigious Christian Dior brand, and Le Bon Marché department store. In 1987, the group had to refund a part of the 51,5 million Euros it had benefited. These procedures did not reach Bernard Arnault who focused on Christian Dior’s development and on his acquisitions in the luxury sector (he became CEO of Christian Dior in 1985 and gathered the perfume and fashion departments in 1989).
In 1987, shortly after the creation of LVMH, the new luxury group resulting from the merger between two companies, Mr Arnault exploited a growing conflict between Alain Chevalier, Moët Hennessy's CEO, and Henri Racamier, president of Louis Vuitton. Moët Hennessy held Moët & Chandon Champagne, Ruinart Champagne, Champagne Mercier, Canard-Duchêne and Hennessy cognac. Louis Vuitton was the owner of Louis Vuitton Malletier, Givenchy, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne. The new group held property rights to Dior perfumes, which Bernard Arnault craved to incorporate into Dior Couture. He created a holding company of which he owned 60% and Guinness, who had a distribution agreement with Moët-Hennessy, owned 40%. Following the October 1987 stock market crash, he capitalized on the lower quoted price and soon owned 43% of LVMH. In 1988, the group was looking for other investors. Henri Racamier, CEO at that time, asked Bernard Arnault to invest in the company. With more than 25% of shares, Bernard Arnault became one of the main shareholders of the group.
During this period, the management met difficulties because of the differences of view regarding the group’s strategic choices. Alain Chevalier was considering the sale of the wine and spirits department to other groups, whereas minor shareholder Henri Racamier wanted to restore Louis Vuitton’s independence. In this context, Bernard Arnault believed the group had to follow a unique direction and tried to take the leadership of LVMH. To take the control of the group, Bernard Arnault launched a takeover bid. In July 1988, he became LVMH’s first shareholder and, with the help of Lazard Bank and Crédit Lyonnais, majority shareholder in 6 January 1989. Alain Chevalier left the group and on 13 January 1989, Bernard Arnault was unanimously elected chairman of the executive management board. Henri Recamier tried to cancel Bernard Arnault takeover bid. However, on 16 May 1989, French stock market regulator legitimated the operation.
He then consolidated his position by purging executives from both companies and declared himself linchpin for the group’s future. He also appointed his father Jean Leon Arnault Chairman of the Supervisory board before officially taking over as Chairman & CEO in 1989.
Since then, Bernard Arnault led the company through an ambitious development plan, turning it into one of the largest luxury groups in the world, alongside Swiss luxury giant Richemont and French based PPR Group. In eleven years, LVMH value has been multiplied by fifteen. In the meantime, the sales and profit progressed by 500%. Bernard Arnault promoted the decisions decentralization concerning the brands of the group. The brands are now considered as firms with their own familial history.
Bernard Arnault thinks LVMH has "shared advantages": the strongest brands help financing those that are growing. Bernard Arnault has a portfolio of major brands from the luxury sector for which the stability is secured. This solidity allows new acquisitions and the group development. Thanks to this strategy, Christian Lacroix could open his own fashion house.
In July 1988, Bernard Arnault acquired Céline. In 1993, LVMH acquired Berluti and Kenzo. In the same year, Bernard Arnault bought out the French economic newspaper La Tribune. He could not turn it around, in spite of the 150 million Euro of investment. He sold La Tribune in November 2007 in order to buy the other French economic newspaper Les Échos, for 240 million Euros.
In 1994, LVMH acquired the perfume firm Guerlain. In 1996, Bernard Arnault bought out Loewe and it was followed by Marc Jacobs and Sephora in 1997. Were also integrated to the group: Thomas Pink in 1999, Emilio Pucci in 2000 and Fendi, DKNY and La Samaritaine in 2001.
Between 1998 and 2001, he had a passion for new economy and invested in boo.com, Libertysurf and Zebank through his holding Europatweb. The March 2000 Internet crash and 9/11 attacks convinced him to leave the sector.
In the 1990s, Bernard Arnault decided to gather his activities in a unique building in New York in order to symbolize LVMH’s strength and grandeur in the United States. He chose Christian de Portzamparc to realize this project, in which he also committed himself. On 8 December 1999, LVMH tower was unveiled in front of Hillary Clinton.
In 2005, he became the richest man in France. According to the Forbes list of Billionaires 2006, he pushed in front of his fellow-countrywoman Liliane Bettencourt, with a $30 billion fortune.
In 2007, he acquired 10.69% of France's largest supermarket retailer and the world's second largest food distributor, Carrefour through his Blue Capital, which is jointly owned by California property firm Colony Capital.
In 2008, he invested into the yacht business and bought Princess Yachts for 253 million Euros. He then took control of Royal van Lent for an almost identical sum.
Arnault's main business competitors are:
- French businessman François-Henri Pinault, whose holding company PPR owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Sergio Rossi, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Roger & Gallet, Bédat & Co and Christie's.
- Swiss-based Richemont, which owns Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Net-a-Porter, Piaget, Baume et Mercier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Söhne, Officine Panerai, Vacheron Constantin, Dunhill, Lancel, Montblanc, Old England, Purdey, Chloé, and Shanghai Tang.
Love of Art 
Bernard is a noted art collector and is known for his contemporary collection, which includes pieces by Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore and Andy Warhol. He was also instrumental in establishing LVMH as a major patron of Art in France.
Following the example of businessman François Pinault, he created in 2006 a Louis Vuitton foundation for contemporary art. Designed by Frank Gehry, the construction of the foundation should open at the Jardin d'acclimatation in 2013.
He received the Corporate Citizenship award from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2011.
He was made as an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in late 2012.
Request for Belgian nationality 
Arnault disclosed that he was trying to apply for Belgian citizenship and is considering moving to Belgium after the 2013 budget was passed in France. In April 2013, Arnault announced that newspapers misquoted his words, and he never wanted to leave France : "I repeatedly said that I would stay resident in France and that I would continue to pay my taxes. In vain: the message is not passed. Today, I decided to remove any ambiguity. I withdraw my request of Belgian nationality.[...] Request Belgian nationality was to better protect the foundation that I created, with the sole purpose of ensuring the continuity and integrity of the LVMH group if I were to disappear". On 10 April 2013, Arnault announced he had decided to abandon his application for Belgian citizenship, saying he did not want the move to be misinterpreted as a measure of tax evasion at a time when France faced economic and social challenges.
See also 
- Matthew G. Miller & Peter Newcomb (8 November 2012). "The World’s 200 Richest People". Bloomberg. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- "Being Bernard Arnault". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
- Reich, Ashley (11 March 2011). "'Forbes' Billionaire Divorcées: 10 Wealthiest". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- Gumbel, Peter (26 April 2004). "Bernard Arnault". TIME. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Galloni, Alessandra (5 March 2009). "Being LVMH's Bernard Arnault – WSJ. Magazine – WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "Billionaire Art Collectors". Forbes. 6 March 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- "Forbes World's Billionaires List". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
- Matthew G. Miller & Peter Newcomb (8 November 2012). "The World’s 200 Richest People". Bloomberg. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- Gordon Rayner and Peter Allen, (12 February 2007). "Cherie's pride at her graduate girl (...and the Blairs managed to negotiate a freebie, too)". Daily Mail.
- "Bernard Arnault – Learning the Family Business". Referenceforbusiness.com. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "Un portrait de Bernard Arnault censuré par Laurent Joffrin". Acrimed.org. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Disparition d'Henry Racamier, l'un des fondateurs de LVMH,Les Echos, n° 18878 du 01 Avril 2003
- L'accès à la puissance économique de Bernard Arnault (1974-1989), Magazine Gérer et Comprendre, June 2004, n°76, p.62
- "Vidéo d'une conférence donnée par Christian de Portzamparc". Pavillon de l'Arsenal. 29 February 2000.
- "Tour de France a New York. Signé Portzamparc, le nouveau siège américain de LVMH marque le retour dans la "Grosse Pomme" d'une architecture audacieuse". Libération.fr. 13 December 1999.
- "Designing The Nouveau Building On the Block". The New-York Times. 15 Decembee 1999.
- Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 45.
- Julie Zeveloff (2012-06-28). "The 10 Biggest Art Collectors Of 2012". Businessinsider.com. Retrieved 2013-03-02. Text " 28 June 2012, 3:16 PM " ignored (help); Text " 22,133 " ignored (help); Text " 2 " ignored (help)
- "Phillips de Pury & Company". Phillipsdepury.com. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 85.
- Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création : Pas avant 2013 France-Amérique, le 24 June 2011
- « Bernard Arnault élevé à la dignité de Grand officier » Zone Bourse.com, 15 July 2011
- "Bernard Arnault: Fashion's Person Of The Year". Forbes.com. 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
- Reuters Monday, 8 Oct 2012 (2012-10-08). "LVMH head Arnault to be knighted in London". Asiaone.com. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
- Post to Facebook (2012-10-09). "France's deficit plan? Soak the rich". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
- "Bernard Arnault : "Je retire ma demande de nationalité belge"". AFP. 2013-04-10. Retrieved 2013-04-10. "J'ai à plusieurs reprises expliqué que je resterais résident en France et que je continuerais d'y payer mes impôts. En vain: le message n'est pas passé. Aujourd'hui, j'ai décidé de lever toute équivoque. Je retire ma demande de nationalité belge.[...] Demander la nationalité belge visait à mieux protéger la fondation belge que j'ai créée, avec comme seul objectif d'assurer la pérennité et l'intégrité du groupe LVMH si je venais à disparaître et si mes ayants droit devaient ne pas s'entendre."
- "LVMH's Arnault Withdraws Belgian Citizenship Bid", Wall Street Journal, 10 April 2013
- Being LVMH's Bernard Arnault- Profile story from WSJ Magazine
- A Guide to the Principal Holdings of Bernard Arnault also in WSJ Magazine
- New York Times, 15 May 2005