Bernard Arnault

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Bernard Arnault
Bernard Arnault.jpg
Arnault in 2009
Born Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault
(1949-03-05) 5 March 1949 (age 65)
Roubaix, France
Residence Paris, France
Nationality France
Alma mater École Polytechnique
Occupation Business magnate, art collector
Net worth Increase US $ 36.2 billion (2014)
Title Chairman & CEO of LVMH
Chairman of Christian Dior S.A.
Religion Roman Catholic[1]
Spouse(s) Anne Dewavrin (m. 1973–1990)
Hélène Mercier (m. 1991)[2]
Children 5, including Delphine Arnault
Antoine Arnault
Bernard Arnault -

Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault (French: [bɛʁnaːʁ aʁno]; born 5 March 1949) is a French businessman and an art collector.[3][4] He is the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH since 1989.[5]

Early life and career[edit]

His father Jean Leon Arnault was a manufacturer and the 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.


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[edit]

In 1984, with the help of Antoine Bernheim, a senior partner of Lazard Frères et Cie., Bernard Arnault acquired the Financière Agache, a luxury goods company.[6] He became the CEO of Financière Agache, and therefore took control of 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. Bernard Arnault sold nearly all the company's assets, keeping only the prestigious Christian Dior brand, and Le Bon Marché department store.[7]


In 1987, shortly after the creation of LVMH, the new luxury group resulting from the merger between two companies, Bernard Arnault exploited a growing conflict between Alain Chevalier, Moët Hennessy's CEO, and Henri Racamier, president of Louis Vuitton. The new group held property rights to Dior perfumes, which Bernard Arnault craved to incorporate into Dior Couture.

In July 1988, Bernard Arnault fronted $1.5 billion to form a holding company with Guinness that held 24% of LVMH’s shares. Following rumors that the Louis Vuitton clan was buying LVMH’s stocks to form a “blocking minority”, Bernard Arnault spent another $600 million to buy another 13.5% of LVMH, making him LVMH’s first shareholder. In January 1989, Bernard Arnault spent another $500 million to control a total of 43.5% of LVMH, and 35% of voting rights, thus reaching the “blocking minority” he needed to stop the dismantlement of the LVMH group. On 13 January 1989, Bernard Arnault was unanimously elected chairman of the executive management board.[8]

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 Kering. 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.[9] In 1993, LVMH acquired Berluti and Kenzo. In the same year, Bernard Arnault bought out the French economic newspaper La Tribune.[10] 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.[11]

In 1994, LVMH acquired the perfume firm Guerlain.[12] In 1996, Bernard Arnault bought out Loewe[13] and it was followed by Marc Jacobs and Sephora in 1997.[14] Were also integrated to the group: Thomas Pink in 1999, Emilio Pucci in 2000 and Fendi, DKNY and La Samaritaine in 2001.

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.[15] On 8 December 1999, the LVMH Tower was unveiled in front of Hillary Clinton.[16]

Other investments[edit]

Between 1998 and 2001, Bernard Arnault invested in many web companies:, Libertysurf and Zebank through his holding Europatweb. Groupe Arnault also invested in Netflix in 1999.[17]

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.[18]

In 2008, he invested into the yacht business and bought Princess Yachts for 253 million Euros.[19] He then took control of Royal van Lent for an almost identical sum.[20]

Art collector[edit]

Arnault is a noted art collector and is known for his contemporary collection, which includes pieces by Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore and Andy Warhol.[21] He was also instrumental in establishing LVMH as a major patron of Art in France.[22]

He owned the art auction house Phillips de Pury & Company from 1999 to 2003[23] and bought out the first French auctioneer Tajan.[24]

In 2006, he created 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.[25]


  • Commander of the French Legion of Honour (10 February 2007)
  • Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour (14 July 2011)[26]
  • Corporate Citizenship award from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2011)[27]
  • Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (2012)[28]
  • Museum of Modern Art’s David Rockefeller Award (March 2014)[29][30]

Personal life[edit]

Arnault has been married twice,[2] 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 has three sons.

Arnault was a witness at President Nicolas Sarkozy's wedding to Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz.

Arnault is the owner of a 70 meter superyacht, named Amadeus. Amadeus is a converted research vessel. And he is currently building a new - 101 meter - yacht in the Netherlands, which will be delivered in 2014.[31]

Request for Belgian nationality[edit]

Arnault disclosed that he was trying to apply for Belgian citizenship and was considering moving to Belgium after the 2013 budget was passed in France.[32] 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".[33] 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.[34]


  1. ^ "Being Bernard Arnault". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  2. ^ a b Reich, Ashley (11 March 2011). "'Forbes' Billionaire Divorcées: 10 Wealthiest". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Galloni, Alessandra (5 March 2009). "Being LVMH's Bernard Arnault – WSJ. Magazine – WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Billionaire Art Collectors". Forbes. 6 March 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Forbes World's Billionaires List". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  6. ^ Steven Greenhouse, Pivotal Figure Emerges In Moet-Vuitton Feud, NYTimes, September 19, 1988
  7. ^ Biography Bernard Arnault, Reference for Business'
  8. ^ Steven Greenhouse, A luxury fight to the finish, New York Times, 17 December 1989
  9. ^ Steven Greenhouse, Pivotal Figure Emerges In Moet-Vuitton Feud, New York Times, 19 December 1988
  10. ^ Jacques Neher, Intimacy Proves Too Much for Guinness, LVMH, New York Times, 21 January 1994
  11. ^ Gwladys Fouché, La Tribune splash attacks paper's owner, The Guardian, 7 November 2007
  12. ^ Heather Connon, Arnault expands perfume empire: LVMH buys controlling stake in Guerlain, The Independent, 30 April 1994
  13. ^ LVMH says takes control of Spain's Loewe, Europolitics, 12 February 1996
  14. ^ Lvmh: Life Isn't All Champagne And Caviar, Business Week, 9 November 1997
  15. ^ Suzy Menkes, Bernard Arnault:Man Behind the Steely Mask, New York Times, 30 November 1999
  16. ^ Julie V. Iovine, Designing The Nouveau Building On the Block, New York Times, 15 December 1999
  17. ^ Secures $30 Million Investment from Group Arnault, 7 July 1999
  18. ^ Colony, Arnault Win Seats at Carrefour, DealBook, 30 April 2007
  19. ^ Ben Harrington, Bernard Arnault plots new course for Princess Yachts, The Telegraph, 3 June 2008
  20. ^ Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 45
  21. ^ Hannah Elliott, In Luxury, Bernard Arnault Alone Makes the Most Powerful List, Forbes, April 11, 2010
  22. ^ Julie Zeveloff (2012-06-28). "The 10 Biggest Art Collectors Of 2012". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  23. ^ "Phillips de Pury & Company". Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  24. ^ Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 85.
  25. ^ Hannah Elliott, LVMH Moves Forward With Gehry Art Museum Forbes, March 31, 2011
  26. ^ Lauren Milligan, Arnault Honour, Vogue, 18 July 2011
  27. ^ Christy Stewart, Mr. Arnault Goes to Washington: LVMH Corporate Citizen, Business Insider, 9 May 2011
  28. ^ Reuters Monday, 8 Oct 2012 (2012-10-08). "LVMH head Arnault to be knighted in London". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  29. ^ Lockwood, Lisa (19 February 2014). "Bernard Arnault to Be Honored at MoMA Luncheon". WWD. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  30. ^ Maza, Erik (4 March 2014). "Bernard Arnault Receives MoMa's David Rockefeller Award". WWD. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  31. ^ "Superyacht Amadeus". SuperYachtFan. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  32. ^ "France's deficit plan? Soak the rich". 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  33. ^ "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." 
  34. ^ "LVMH's Arnault Withdraws Belgian Citizenship Bid", Wall Street Journal, 10 April 2013

See also[edit]

External links[edit]