Forbes ranking: Bernard Arnault is richer than Elon Musk

He and his family became the world’s first wealth, ahead of Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault patiently built with LVMH (minority shareholder). Challenges, editor’s note) to a global luxury empire from fashion to spirits through emblematic acquisitions that cemented his reputation as a formidable and insatiable businessman. The 73-year-old Frenchman and his family rose to the top of the Forbes list of the world’s richest people with $184 billion in a few days due to the erosion of the wealth of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. SpaceX and Twitter.

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Luxury and media

“The main quality of our family is patience,” said Bernard Arnault, at the top of the Professional Fortunes ranking. Challenges. Ten years later, when LVMH’s annual turnover had more than doubled to more than 64 billion euros, he declared on Radio Classique: “We can continue to progress, but let’s be patient, there’s no need to rush.”

The world number one in luxury, LVMH has more than 75 brands (Louis Vuitton, Moët Hennessy, Kenzo, Guerlain, Fendi, Céline, Sephora, Bulgari, Tiffany, etc.) acquired over the years. The businessman also invested in the French press (Les Echos, Le Parisien, Radio Classic, Challenges…) activities that he “prefers to go to the side of sponsorship”, he assured during a hearing in the Senate in January 2022, that he also assumed that he intervened to deprive the daily advertising funding Liberation, guilty of a front page. had displeased him.

Christian Dior, the cornerstone of luxury

Born on March 5, 1949 in Roubaix (Nord), Bernard Arnault began his career at the age of 22 by joining his father’s public works construction company, leaving the Ecole Polytechnique and convincing him to turn it into promotion, real estate. After the election of François Mitterrand in 1981, he went to the United States and stayed there for three years. On his return, he bought the debt-ridden textile company Boussac, winning a bid against several serious rivals thanks to his promise to keep the business going. However, it is the sharp social plan that he imposes on Boussac, keeping only a few activities, including the Christian Dior fashion house. He was 35 years old then.

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“Dad, I surprised him when I came to see him and said we’re going to change the direction of the family group and try to invest in something more vibrant, Christian Dior,” she said. Bernard Arnault has just laid the first stone of his luxury empire. In 1987, Bernard Arnault took advantage of the rivalry between the two owning families to master LVMH, which was created by the merger between the trunk manufacturer Louis Vuitton and the wine and spirits group Moët-Hennessy, and in 1989 he took the helm of the company. duration… 17 court proceedings. Arnaud Kadart, portfolio manager at Flournoy, concludes: “He is a tough but unparalleled negotiator, a visionary who knows how to cover himself and who ultimately always achieves his goals in one way or another.”

Failures and criticisms

However, the trajectory of Bernard Arnault is not without failures, for example, his great rival Francois Pinault, at the head of PPR (Pinault Printemps Redoute) Kering, 7e According to French professional fate Challenges, whispered to him in 1999 by the Italian label Gucci. Or when he tried in vain to get his hands on Hermes, the saddler and leather goods maker, 3e According to French professional fate Challengesenters the capital masked.

His word is rare. He doesn’t like advertising. This summer, while the routes of private jets of celebrities are being followed on social networks, Bernard Arnault is selling planes of the LVMH group. “The result now is that no one knows where I’m going because I rent a plane,” he explains on Radio Classique. “Many French businessmen embody – sometimes quite unjustifiably – a criticism of the atmosphere, because the mentality has been somewhat anti-business for several years,” he lamented on France 2 in 2016. “Thank you boss!”, a satirical charge against Bernard Arnault by François Ruffin, now a deputy. documentary still regularly targets him. In 2021, LVMH pays a fine of 10 million euros to avoid prosecution in the spy system investigation.

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Bernard Arnault gave up on applying for Belgian citizenship in 2013 and, after months of protesting his approach, found himself guilty during debates about taxes and the tax exile of the wealthiest. Bernard Arnault, whose five children work at LVMH and who tours the group’s Paris brands (Louis Vuitton, Le Bon Marché, etc.) every week, has no intention of handing over the reins immediately. The age limit for his position as CEO of LVMH was extended to 80 at the last general meeting. He also ensured that his luxury empire remained under family control. His eldest son Antoine Arnault was last week appointed chief executive of Christian Dior SE, the holding company that controls the world’s number one luxury goods company LVMH.

Bernard Arnault with his wife Hélène (Cg) and children Antoine (3rd), Delphine (4th), Alexandre (l) and Frédéric (2nd) from Roubaix during the inauguration of the Jean Arnault campus at EDHEC July 9, 2021 (AFP /Archive – DENIS CHARLET)

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