Bernard Arnault

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Bernard Arnault
Bernard Arnault (3) - 2017 (cropped).jpg
Born Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault
(1949-03-05) 5 March 1949 (age 68)
Roubaix, France
Residence Paris, France
Nationality France
Alma mater École Polytechnique
Occupation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH
Chairman of Christian Dior S.A.
Net worth US$ 52.8 billion (May 2017)
Spouse(s) Anne Dewavrin (m. 1973–1990)
Hélène Mercier (m. 1991)
Children with Dewavrin:
Delphine Arnault
Antoine Arnault
with Mercier:
Alexandre Arnault
Frédéric Arnault
Jean Arnault
Website Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH
Bernard Arnault in meeting with Vladimir Putin, 24 November 2016

Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault (French: [bɛʁnaːʁ aʁno]; born 5 March 1949) is a French business magnate, an investor, and an art collector.[1][2][3]

Arnault is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LVMH, the world's largest luxury goods company. He is the richest person in France, and the 8th richest person in the world according to Forbes. In April 2017, his net worth is estimated to be US$55.9 billion.[4]

Early life[edit]

After graduating from the Maxence Van Der Meersch High School in Roubaix, Arnault was admitted to École Polytechnique, from which he graduated with an Engineering degree in 1971.

His father, Jean Leon Arnault, a graduate of École Centrale Paris, was a manufacturer and the owner of the civil engineering company, Ferret-Savinel.



After graduation, Arnault joined his father's company in 1971. 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 in holiday accommodation. Named Director of Company Development in 1974, he became the 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., Arnault acquired the Financière Agache, a luxury goods company.[5] He became the CEO of Financière Agache, and subsequently 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. He sold nearly all the company's assets, keeping only the prestigious Christian Dior brand, and Le Bon Marché department store.[6]


In 1987, shortly after the creation of LVMH, the new luxury group resulting from the merger between two companies, Arnault mediated a 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 Arnault believed should be incorporated into Dior Couture.

In July 1988, Arnault provided $1.5 billion to form a holding company with Guinness that held 24% of LVMH's shares. In response to rumors that the Louis Vuitton group was buying LVMH's stock to form a "blocking minority", Arnault spent $600 million to buy 13.5% more of LVMH, making him LVMH's first shareholder. In January 1989, Bernard Arnault spent another $500 million to gain 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, he was unanimously elected chairman of the executive management board.[7]

Since then, Arnault led the company through an ambitious development plan, transforming it into one of the largest luxury groups in the world, alongside Swiss luxury giant Richemont and French-based Kering. In eleven years, the market value of LVMH has multiplied by at least fifteen, while, simultaneously, the sales and profit rose by 500%. He promoted decisions towards decentralizing the group's brands. As a result of these measures, the brands are now viewed as independent firms with their own history.

Arnault professional decisions support the idea that LVMH has "shared advantages": the strongest brands help finance those that are still developing. The portfolio of major luxury brands has a history of stability, and thus its solidity allows for new acquisitions and group development. It is because of this strategy that Christian Lacroix could open his own fashion house.

In July 1988, Arnault acquired Céline.[8] In 1993, LVMH acquired Berluti and Kenzo. In the same year, Arnault bought out the French economic newspaper La Tribune.[9] The company never achieved the desired success, despite his 150 million euro investment, and he sold it in November 2007 in order to buy a different French economic newspaper Les Échos, for 240 million Euros.[10][11]

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

In the 1990s, Arnault decided to develop a centre in New York to manage LVMH's presence in the United States. He chose Christian de Portzamparc to supervise this project.[15] The result was the LVMH Tower, which opened in December 1999.[16]

Other investments[edit]

From 1998 to 2001, Arnault invested in a variety of web companies:, Libertysurf and Zebank through his holding Europatweb. Groupe Arnault also invested in Netflix in 1999.[17]

In 2007, his company Blue Capital, that Arnault owns jointly with the California property firm Colony Capital, acquired 10.69% of France's largest supermarket retailer and the world's second-largest food distributor, Carrefour.[18]

In 2008, he entered the yacht business and bought Princess Yachts for 253 million Euros.[19] He subsequently 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 that includes pieces by Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore and Andy Warhol. [21][22] He was also instrumental in establishing LVMH as a major patron of Art in France.[23]

The LVMH group created The "Young Fashion Designer" Prize. It is an international competition which is open to students from Fine arts schools. Every year, the winner is awarded with a grant to support the creation of his or her label and with a year of mentorship.[24][25]

From 1999 to 2003, he owned Phillips de Pury & Company, an art auction house, and bought out the first French auctioneer, Tajan.[26][27]

In 2006, Arnault started the building project of the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Dedicated to creation and contemporary art, the building was designed by the architect Frank Gehry, who also designed the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.[28] The Foundation's grand opening at the Jardin d'Acclimatation was held on 20 October 2014.[29]


  • Commander of the French Legion of Honour (10 February 2007)
  • Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour (14 July 2011)[30]
  • Corporate Citizenship award from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2011)[31]
  • Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (2012)[32]
  • Museum of Modern Art's David Rockefeller Award (March 2014)[33][34]

Personal life[edit]

Arnault has been married twice, and has a daughter and four sons. He was married to Anne Dewavrin from 1973 to 1990, and the couple have a daughter Delphine and a son Antoine. Arnault married his second wife, Hélène Mercier, a Canadian pianist from Quebec, in 1991. The couple have three sons, Alexandre, Frédéric, and Jean.[35]

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

Arnault owned the 70 m (230 ft) converted research vessel Amadaeus, which was sold in late 2015.[36] His current 101.5 m (333 ft) yacht [37] Symphony was built in the Netherlands by Feadship, delivered in mid-2015.

Request for Belgian nationality[edit]

It was disclosed that Arnault was planning to apply for Belgian citizenship and was considering moving to Belgium in 2013.[38] In April 2013, Arnault said that he had been misquoted and that had never had the intention 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".[39] 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.[40] Arnault also stated that several employees requested to leave France for tax purposes but he declined their request, and that "the 75-percent tax would not raise a lot of revenue but should prove less divisive now that it was set to be levied on firms rather than people and only due to stay in place for two years."[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Galloni, Alessandra (5 March 2009). "Being LVMH's Bernard Arnault – WSJ. Magazine – WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Being Bernard Arnault". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  4. ^ "Forbes World's Billionaires List". Retrieved August 23, 2017. 
  5. ^ Steven Greenhouse, Pivotal Figure Emerges In Moet-Vuitton Feud, NYTimes, 19 September 1988
  6. ^ Biography Bernard Arnault, Reference for Business
  7. ^ Steven Greenhouse, A luxury fight to the finish, New York Times, 17 December 1989
  8. ^ Steven Greenhouse, Pivotal Figure Emerges In Moet-Vuitton Feud, New York Times, 19 December 1988
  9. ^ Jacques Neher, Intimacy Proves Too Much for Guinness, LVMH, New York Times, 21 January 1994
  10. ^ Gwladys Fouché, La Tribune splash attacks paper's owner, The Guardian, 7 November 2007
  11. ^ "VMH buys Les Echos from Pearson". BBC. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  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[permanent dead link], 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 Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine., 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. ^ "Billionaire Art Collectors". Forbes. 6 March 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  22. ^ Hannah Elliott, In Luxury, Bernard Arnault Alone Makes the Most Powerful List, Forbes, 11 April 2010
  23. ^ Julie Zeveloff (2012-06-28). "The 10 Biggest Art Collectors Of 2012". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  24. ^ Scarlett Kilcooley-O'Halloran, Tait Takes LVMH Prize Vogue UK, 28 May 2014
  25. ^ Sarah Jones, LVMH creates $400K design prize to cultivate young talent Luxury Daily, 12 November 2013
  26. ^ "Phillips de Pury & Company". Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  27. ^ Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 85.
  28. ^ Alan Riding, Vuitton plans a Gehry-Designed Arts Center in Paris The New York Times, 3 October 2006
  29. ^ David Chazan, Frank Gehry ‘Iceberg’ art gallery to open in Paris The Telegraph, 19 October 2014
  30. ^ Lauren Milligan, Arnault Honour, Vogue, 18 July 2011
  31. ^ Christy Stewart, Mr. Arnault Goes to Washington: LVMH Corporate Citizen, Business Insider, 9 May 2011
  32. ^ Reuters Monday, 8 Oct 2012 (2012-10-08). "LVMH head Arnault to be knighted in London". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  33. ^ Lockwood, Lisa (19 February 2014). "Bernard Arnault to Be Honored at MoMA Luncheon". WWD. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  34. ^ Maza, Erik (4 March 2014). "Bernard Arnault Receives MoMa's David Rockefeller Award". WWD. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  35. ^ Reich, Ashley (11 March 2011). "'Forbes' Billionaire Divorcées: 10 Wealthiest". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  36. ^ "Superyacht Amadeus". SuperYachtFan. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  37. ^ "Superyacht Symphony heading to sea.". Retrieved 2015-03-16. [permanent dead link]
  38. ^ "France's deficit plan? Soak the rich". 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  39. ^ "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 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. 
  40. ^ "LVMH's Arnault Withdraws Belgian Citizenship Bid", Wall Street Journal, 10 April 2013
  41. ^ "Bernard Arnault Withdraws Belgian Citizenship Bid". The Business of Fashion. Retrieved 2014-11-19. 

External links[edit]