François Pinault in 2015
|Net worth||US$33.4 billion|
|Children||3, including François-Henri Pinault|
Pinault started his business in the timber industry in the early 1960s. Taken public in 1988, the company invested in specialized retail business and changed its name to PPR. By the end of 1999, PPR shifted towards luxury and fashion. In 2003, he passed on the management of his companies to his elder son François-Henri to follow his passion for contemporary art.
Pinault is one of the world's leading contemporary art collectors.
Pinault grew up in the rural French countryside, beginning his career working for his family's timber business. He dropped out of school at the age of 16 from the College Saint-Martin in Rennes where the upper-class children teased him because of his rural accent and his peasant family. In 1956, he enlisted in the military during the Algerian war. Afterwards, he returned to the family business, which he sold following his father's death.
In 1962, he married Louise Gautier. They had three children: François-Henri, Dominique, and Laurence Pinault. The couple divorced five years later, and in 1970, Pinault married Maryvonne Campbell, an antique trader in Rennes who introduced him to the world of art. His first art purchases date back to this period.
With the help of family and a bank loan from the Crédit Lyonnais, Pinault started his first business in 1963 as a wood-trading company. The business grew strongly. His group bought several companies facing bankruptcy, in particular Chapelle Darblay, and relaunched them.
On October 25, 1988, Pinault SA was taken public in the Paris stock exchange. Pinault started to change the direction of its investments to retail companies. He bought a majority stake in CFAO (specialized distribution in Africa), Conforama (furnishing retailer), Printemps (department store), La Redoute (mail order), and Fnac (books and electronics retailer). His company was renamed Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) in 1993.
By the end of century, Pinault started to shift his group towards the luxury industry. In March 1999, Pinault-Printemps-Redoute purchased a controlling 42% stake of the Gucci Group for $3 billion, and bought the Yves Saint Laurent company. Pinault then purchased the French jewelry company Boucheron in 2000, Balenciaga in 2001, and the British fashion house Alexander McQueen.
In May 2003, Pinault handed over the management of his companies to his son François-Henri. François-Henri Pinault became Chairman of PPR, and continued consolidating the luxury business with new brand acquisitions (Brioni, Girard-Perregaux, Pomellato...). In 2013, PPR changed its name to Kering. In 2018, the group's sales reached 13.66 billion euros, up 26.3% over the previous year.
In 1992, Pinault set up the holding company Artémis to manage the Pinault family's investments. Controlled 100% by Pinault and his family, Artémis controls through its subsidiary Artémis Domaine the French vineyard Château Latour (Bordeaux), the Clos de Tart (Bourgogne), the Domaine d'Eugénie (Vosne-Romanée), Château Grillet (Rhône Valley), Eisele Vineyard (Napa Valley). Among other investments, Artémis bought the news magazine Le Point in 1997, the auction house Christie's in 1998, and the luxury cruise company Ponant in 2015.
Contemporary art collection
Pinault bought his first significant painting, Cour de ferme by Paul Sérusier, in 1980. He collected art of the 20th century (Mondrian, Picasso, Man Ray, ...) before following contemporary art and artists (David Hammons, Rudolf Stingel, Damien Hirst, Koons, Subodh Gupta, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Donald Judd, Robert Ryman, ...). In 2019, the collection counts around 5,000 works.
In the early 2000s, Pinault had planned to develop a major contemporary art museum on the Île Seguin (Boulogne-Billancourt, suburbs of Paris) to house his collection. He assigned the Japanese architect Tadao Ando to design the building. After endless administrative delays, he cancelled the project in 2005.
The same year, he bought Palazzo Grassi SpA which operates the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. Tadao Ando renovated the historical building. The Palazzo Grassi housed the first exhibition of Pinault Collection in 2006. One year later, the Venice city council awarded the tender of the Punta della Dogana, which had been abandoned for 30 years, to Pinault Collection, adding 5,000 m2 to the Palazzo Grassi spaces in Venice. Tadao Ando restored the historical site, which reopened to the public in June 2009. In 2013, Pinault achieved the third chapter of his cultural project in Venice with the renovation and transformation of the Teatrino, an open-air theatre in ruins. Conceived by Tadao Ando, the new Teatrino holds a 225-seat auditorium.
In 2016, Pinault and the city of Paris announced their plan to turn the Bourse de commerce in the center of Paris (first arrondissement) into a new, Pinault Collection-branded, contemporary art museum. The architect Tadao Ando was put in charge of transforming the historic building. The opening was announced for the spring of 2020.
In addition to the exhibitions organized in its own museums, Pinault Collection organizes off-site exhibitions in France and around the globe, especially with institutional partners. The Pinault Collection has been shown in:
- 2007: Lille (Passage du temps)
- 2009: Moscow Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (A state of the world?)
- 2009: Dinard (Qui a peur des artistes)
- 2011: Seoul (Agony and Ecstasy)
- 2013: Paris Conciergerie (Triple Tour)
- 2014: Monaco Grimaldi Forum (Dancing with Myself)
- 2016: Essen Folkwang Museum (Dancing with Myself)
- 2017: Stockholm Fotografiska (Résonance)
- 2018: Rennes Couvent des Jacobins - Musée des Beaux-Arts (Debout)
In 2015, in memory of his friend the writer (and Picasso biographer) Pierre Daix who passed away in 2014, Pinault created the Pierre Daix Prize to reward an outstanding book on modern and contemporary art every year.
In 2014, Pinault launched through the Pinault Collection an artist residency program in Lens (Northern France). A former rectory was acquired and renovated by the NeM architecture agency. The artist residence opened in 2015. The American artists Melissa Dubbin and Aaron Davidson were the first artists selected for this program. The Belgian artist Edith Dekundt was in residency for 2016/2017, followed by the Brazilian artist Luca Arrada (2017/2018) and Hicham Berrada (2018/2019). The artists are selected by Pinault Collection in collaboration with Louvre-Lens, FRAC Nord Pas de Calais, and Le Fresnoy art school.
In 1990, following a fire in the Paimpont forest in Brittany, Pinault immediately financed the reforestation project. In 2000, he provided a significant financial assistance to help the islands in Brittany affected by the oil spill following the sinking of the Erika.
As of October 2019, Pinault had a net worth of $33.4 billion, making him the 27th richest person in the world, and the 3rd richest in France.
- 1958: Military Value Cross
- 2006: Breton of the Year by Armor Magazine
- 2006, 2007: Most influential personality in the art world by Art Review magazine
- 2011: Grand officier de la Légion d'honneur
- 2016: Grand Officer of the Ordine della Stella d'Italia
- 2017: Grand Croix de la Légion d'honneur
- Bothorel, Jean (2003). François Pinault : une enfance bretonne. Paris: Robert Laffont. ISBN 9782221097472. OCLC 56405699.
- Dal Co, Francesco (2009). Tadao Ando for François Pinault: From Ile Seguin to Punta Della Dogana. Mondadori Electa. ISBN 8837069456.
- Anfam, David (2006). Where Are We Going?: Selections from the Francois Pinault Collection. Skira. ISBN 8876247564.
- "Francois Pinault & family". Forbes. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
- From timber merchant to corporate axeman, Theguardian.com, 3 April 1990
- Lunch with the FT: François Pinault, Ft.com, 8 April 2011
- Colin Randall, The stylish approach to empire building, Thenational.ae, 13 October 2015
- Vicky Ward, François Pinault's ultimate luxury, Vanityfair.com, 26 November 2007
- Thomas Kamm, Pinault's Empire Grows, Adding Stake in Christie's, Wsj.com, 7 May 1998
- Kering – Evolution of a Global Luxury Brand Company, Martinroll.com, November 2017
- Kering: A Timeline Behind the Building of a Conglomerate, Thefashionlaw.com, 2 April 2018
- John Tagliabue, Gucci Purchases Control Of Yves Saint Laurent, Nytimes.com, 16 November 1999
- David Jolly, PPR Will Change Name to Kering to Show Breton Roots, Nytimes.com, 23 March 2013
- Kering: An Outstanding 2018 Performance, Businesswire.com, 12 February 2019
- Rupert Millar, France's top 10 richest drinks barons, Thedrinkbusiness.com, 30 August 2017
- Paul Tharp, Iron-fisted Frenchman Pinault is fighting Arnault to rule the auction-house world, Nypost.com, 27 February 2000
- Andrew Roberts, French Billionaire Pinault Family to Buy Ponant Cruise Ships, Bloomberg.com, 27 July 2015
- Ben Lyttleton, Rennes come out on top in battle of the bank balances, Theguardian.com, 15 January 2008
- Susan Adams, The Artful Billionaire, Forbes.com, 8 December 2006
- (in French) Margo Vansynghel, Un regard sur la collection d'une des figures les plus influentes du monde de l'art, Lecho.be, 21 March 2019
- Amelia Gentleman, Saatchi of the Seine, Theguardian.com, 11 October 2004
- Marcus Fairs, Tadao Ando designs arts centre for François Pinault in Venice, Dezeen.com, 24 September 2007
- Gregory Volk, Pinault's Value-Based Initiative, Artinamerica.com, 18 September 2009
- Amy Frearson, The Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi by Tadao Ando, Dezeen.com, 14 October 2013
- Guy Martin, The Power of Art: François Pinault's $1.2 Billion-Collection Finds a Home in Paris, Forbes.com, 29 April 2016
- Angelique Chrisafis, Former Paris stock exchange to be reborn as major new art museum, Theguardian.com, 26 June 2017
- Collection Francois Pinault in Moscow, Artinvestment.ru, 20 March 2009
- François Pinault Collection enchants Asia Seoul, Flash----art.com, 5 September 2011
- Collection Pinault contemporary art exhibition in Rennes, Tourisme-rennes.com
- Robin Scher, Inaugural Winners of Pierre Daix Art Book Prize Announced, Artnews.com, 24 November 2015
- Louvre goes Lens – and Pinault follows, Bmw-art-guide.com
- Artists in pinault-sponsored art residency, Xamou-art.com, 15 October 2014
- Pinault to help fund Brittany cleanup, Wwd.com, 11 January 2000
- Gareth Harris, Billionaire François Pinault gives €3m for refurbishment of Victor Hugo's Guernsey home, Theartnewspaper.com, 6 April 2018
- Alex Greenberger, Collector François Pinault, Son Pledge $113 M. Toward Rebuilding Notre-Dame Cathedral, Artnews.com, 15 April 2019
- Esther Addley, French tycoon heads art power list, Theguardian.com, 14 October 2006
- Don-Alvin Adegeest, François Pinault receives France's highest honour, Fashionunited.co.uk, 18 April 2007
- Joelle Diderich, Italy Honors François Pinault for Luxury and Art Achievements, wwd.com, 4 November 2016
- Jennifer Weil, François Pinault Granted Dignity of the Great Cross in Legion of Honor, Wwd.com, 18 April 2017