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 66)
Roubaix, France
Residence Paris, France
Nationality France
Alma mater École Polytechnique
Occupation Chairman & CEO of LVMH
Chairman of Christian Dior S.A.
Net worth DecreaseUS$38.4 billion (September 2015)[1]
Religion Roman Catholic[2]
Spouse(s) Anne Dewavrin (m. 1973–1990)
Hélène Mercier (m. 1991)[3]
Children 5, including Delphine Arnault
Antoine Arnault
Website Bernard Arnault -

Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault (French: [bɛʁnaːʁ aʁno]; born 5 March 1949) is a French business magnate, investor, philanthropist and art collector.[4][5] He is the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH since 1989. In March 2015, Forbes estimated his wealth to be $37 billion, making him the 13th richest person in the world and the richest in France.[6]

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 degree in engineering 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 in holiday accommodation. Named director of company development in 1974, he became the CEO three years later. 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.[7] 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.[8]


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.[9]

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. Due to 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.[10] In 1993, LVMH acquired Berluti and Kenzo. In the same year, Arnault bought out the French economic newspaper La Tribune.[11] 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.[12][13]

In 1994, LVMH acquired the perfume firm Guerlain.[14] In 1996, Arnault bought out Loewe,[15] followed by Marc Jacobs and Sephora in 1997.[16] 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.[17] The result was the LVMH Tower, which opened in December 1999.[18]

Other investments[edit]

Between 1998 and 2001, Bernard Arnault invested in a variety of web companies:, Libertysurf and Zebank through his holding Europatweb. Groupe Arnault also invested in Netflix in 1999.[19]

In 2007, his company Blue Capital, which 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.[20]

In 2008, he invested into the yacht business and bought Princess Yachts for 253 million Euros.[21] He then took control of Royal van Lent for an almost identical sum.[22]

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.[23] He was also instrumental in establishing LVMH as a major patron of Art in France.[24]

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 label and with a year of mentorship.[25][26]

He owned the art auction house Phillips de Pury & Company from 1999 to 2003[27] and bought out the first French auctioneer Tajan.[28]

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.[29] The Foundation's grand opening at the Jardin d'Acclimatation was held on October, 20th 2014.[30]


  • Commander of the French Legion of Honour (10 February 2007)
  • Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour (14 July 2011)[31]
  • Corporate Citizenship award from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2011)[32]
  • Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (2012)[33]
  • Museum of Modern Art's David Rockefeller Award (March 2014)[34][35]

Personal life[edit]

Arnault has been married twice,[3] 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 large yacht called the Amadaeus that is a converted research vessel. And he is currently personally funding the building of a new yacht in the Netherlands, which is expected to be delivered in 2014.[36]

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.[37] 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".[38] 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.[39] 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."[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Being Bernard Arnault". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  3. ^ a b Reich, Ashley (11 March 2011). "'Forbes' Billionaire Divorcées: 10 Wealthiest". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Galloni, Alessandra (5 March 2009). "Being LVMH's Bernard Arnault – WSJ. Magazine – WSJ". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Billionaire Art Collectors". Forbes. 6 March 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Forbes World's Billionaires List". Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  7. ^ Steven Greenhouse, Pivotal Figure Emerges In Moet-Vuitton Feud, NYTimes, 19 September 1988
  8. ^ Biography Bernard Arnault, Reference for Business
  9. ^ Steven Greenhouse, A luxury fight to the finish, New York Times, 17 December 1989
  10. ^ Steven Greenhouse, Pivotal Figure Emerges In Moet-Vuitton Feud, New York Times, 19 December 1988
  11. ^ Jacques Neher, Intimacy Proves Too Much for Guinness, LVMH, New York Times, 21 January 1994
  12. ^ Gwladys Fouché, La Tribune splash attacks paper's owner, The Guardian, 7 November 2007
  13. ^ "VMH buys Les Echos from Pearson". BBC. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Heather Connon, Arnault expands perfume empire: LVMH buys controlling stake in Guerlain, The Independent, 30 April 1994
  15. ^ LVMH says takes control of Spain's Loewe, Europolitics, 12 February 1996
  16. ^ Lvmh: Life Isn't All Champagne And Caviar, Business Week, 9 November 1997
  17. ^ Suzy Menkes, Bernard Arnault:Man Behind the Steely Mask, New York Times, 30 November 1999
  18. ^ Julie V. Iovine, Designing The Nouveau Building On the Block, New York Times, 15 December 1999
  19. ^ Secures $30 Million Investment from Group Arnault, 7 July 1999
  20. ^ Colony, Arnault Win Seats at Carrefour, DealBook, 30 April 2007
  21. ^ Ben Harrington, Bernard Arnault plots new course for Princess Yachts, The Telegraph, 3 June 2008
  22. ^ Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 45
  23. ^ Hannah Elliott, In Luxury, Bernard Arnault Alone Makes the Most Powerful List, Forbes, 11 April 2010
  24. ^ Julie Zeveloff (2012-06-28). "The 10 Biggest Art Collectors Of 2012". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  25. ^ Scarlett Kilcooley-O'Halloran, Tait Takes LVMH Prize Vogue UK, 28 May 2014
  26. ^ Sarah Jones, LVMH creates $400K design prize to cultivate young talent Luxury Daily, 12 November 2013
  27. ^ "Phillips de Pury & Company". Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  28. ^ Aymeric Mantoux, Voyage au pays des ultra-riches, Éditions Flammarion Capital, 2010, ISBN 978-2-8104-0287-8, page 85.
  29. ^ Alan Riding, Vuitton plans a Gehry-Designed Arts Center in Paris The New York Times, 3 October 2006
  30. ^ David Chazan, Frank Gehry ‘Iceberg’ art gallery to open in Paris The Telegraph, 19 October 2014
  31. ^ Lauren Milligan, Arnault Honour, Vogue, 18 July 2011
  32. ^ Christy Stewart, Mr. Arnault Goes to Washington: LVMH Corporate Citizen, Business Insider, 9 May 2011
  33. ^ Reuters Monday, 8 Oct 2012 (2012-10-08). "LVMH head Arnault to be knighted in London". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  34. ^ Lockwood, Lisa (19 February 2014). "Bernard Arnault to Be Honored at MoMA Luncheon". WWD. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  35. ^ Maza, Erik (4 March 2014). "Bernard Arnault Receives MoMa's David Rockefeller Award". WWD. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Superyacht Amadeus". SuperYachtFan. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  37. ^ "France's deficit plan? Soak the rich". 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  38. ^ "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. 
  39. ^ "LVMH's Arnault Withdraws Belgian Citizenship Bid", Wall Street Journal, 10 April 2013
  40. ^ "Bernard Arnault Withdraws Belgian Citizenship Bid". The Business of Fashion. Retrieved 2014-11-19. 

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