Heading up some of the most premium brands on the planet surely must pay a pretty penny, but how much are Arnault and his family worth?
Arnault's father, Jean Leon, was a successful manufacturer and the owner of the civil engineering company Ferret-Savinel. Arnault junior joined his father's company in 1971. By 1976 Arnault, now director of company development, had convinced his father to liquidate the company's construction wing, refocusing the business to be more lucrative.
The liquidation of the construction wing gave the Arnaults 40 million Fr (French francs), which they invested into their real estate business. Arnault then went on to succeed his father as president of Ferret-Savinel in 1979.
In 1981, Arnault and his family moved for a time to the US. While here he developed condominiums in Palm Beach, Florida, helping to forge a North America branch of the Arnault property business. He returned to France in 1983.
When the textile firm Boussac Saint-Frères went bankrupt, Arnault saw his opportunity to diversify his company. The textile company was made up of several businesses, including couture house Christian Dior. Arnault joined forces with Antoine Bernheim, managing partner of investment firm Lazard Frères, who orchestrated the funds for the acquisition of Boussac.
As a result, Arnault invested around $15 million of his own money, with Bernheim helping to raise the remaining sum of the $80 million buyout of Boussac Saint-Frères.
In 1987, Henri Racamier invited Arnault to invest in LVMH, a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate based in Paris. By 1990, Arnault started to force out Racamier while adding more fashion companies into LVHM's portfolio. Brands such as Givenchy, Moet & Chandon, Berluti, Céline, Sephora and Kenzo all came under the LVHM umbrella.
|LVMUY||LVMH MOËT HENNESSY LOUIS VUITTON SE||122.22||-1.03||-0.84%|
Because of his visionary foresight and business acumen, taking failing fashion brands and rejuvenating them, Arnault was called "The Pope of Fashion".
As the 1990s rolled on, Arnault oversaw the continued expansion of LVMH, acquiring several more companies, including Guerlain in 1994, Loewe in 1996, Marc Jacobs and Sephora in 1997, and Thomas Pink in 1999.
Some of LVMH's takeovers of brands were seen as aggressive by some corners of the media, and it was this perceived determination that earned him the moniker of "Frances's wolf-in-cashmere."
2019 was a very good year for Arnault, who earned an estimated profit of €35.1 billion (about $38.6 billion). This was the same year that Arnault overtook Jeff Bezos on the world's richest list on Dec. 16, 2019. This was shortly after LMVH had acquired premium jewelery company Tiffany & Co. causing stocks to rise.
Arnault's time at the top spot was brief, lasting less than five hours before Bezos reclaimed his crown.
Recently Forbes stated Arnault's net worth to be $95.5 billion.