French billionaire Bernard Arnault just made $5 billion in less than 48 hours. Here's how the world's third-richest person makes and spends his $99 billion fortune.

Business Insider Lifestyle 2 months ago

French businessman Bernard Arnault just made $5.1 billion within 48 hours after a surge in share prices of his conglomerate, LVMH, since Wednesday evening, Forbes reported.

Arnault is the third-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $99.2 billion, according to Forbes. Bloomberg, meanwhile, pegs his net worth slightly lower at $96.3 billion. 

Arnault overtook Warren Buffett in March to become the third-richest person in the world, Bloomberg reported. A few months later, he surpassed Bill Gates to become the world's second-richest person, but now he's back at number three.

Arnault is the chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, known as LVMH, the world's largest maker of luxury goods, making him the richest person in the fashion industry. LVMH, which recorded more than $53 billion in revenue in 2018, is made up of 70 companies including Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dom Perignon Champagne, TAG Heuer, and Rimowa.

Four of Arnault's five children are part of the LVMH empire. 

Arnault made headlines in April after pledging to help fund the rebuilding of Notre Dame. The 800-year-old Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire in April, damaging its spire and roof. Collectively, France's superrich pledged over $450 million towards its repairs, though a church official said in June that none of the funds had been received.

At the end of September, five months after the fire, Arnault signed a contract confirming his donation of 200 million euros, or almost $219 million, French newspaper Le Figaro reported.

Here's a look at Arnault's career, life, and family.

Marissa Perino contributed to reporting.

Bernard Arnault is the third-richest person in the world, worth an estimated $99.2 billion, according to Forbes. He's the richest person in Europe by far.

The 70-year-old French businessman is the chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, known as LVMH, a position he's held since 1989. LVMH is the world's largest maker of luxury goods.

The business is a family affair; four of Arnault's five children hold positions at LVMH brands.

Arnault's wealth is now exceeded only by Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. According to Forbes, Arnault's fortune currently trails Gates' by $6 billion.

Arnault owns a 96.5% stake in Christian Dior, which controls 41% of LVMH.

LVMH, which recorded more than $53 billion in revenue in 2018, is made up of 70 companies that sell products such as Louis Vuitton leather goods ...

... TAG Heuer watches ...

... and Dom Perignon Champagne. In 2018, LVMH brought in $53 billion in revenue.

Arnault comes from the northern French town of Roubaix.

He studied engineering at the Ecole Polytechnique, a prestigious school in Paris that counts three former French presidents and three Nobel Prize winners among its alumni.

After graduating, Arnault spent a stint working for his father's construction company, Ferret-Savinel, before entering the luxury goods industry. He became CEO of luxury goods holding company, Financiere Agache, in 1984.

Arnault married Anne Dewavrin in 1973 and they had two children together before separating in 1990. Arnault remarried to Helene Mercier, a Canadian concert pianist, in 1991.

He reportedly wooed her by playing Chopin and other classical composers for her.

The French billionaire and his wife live on Paris's Left Bank south of the Seine River, a historic area that includes neighborhoods such as the Latin Quarter and St. Germain-des-Prés.

In their home, Arnault keeps a collection of modern and contemporary art from artists that include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso.

Arnault has five children: two with his first wife and three with his current wife.

Antoine Arnault and Delphine Arnault are his two children from his first marriage.

Delphine, Bernard's oldest daughter, is the apparent heiress to the LVMH empire.

She started her career at American consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. in Paris and is now the executive vice president at Louis Vuitton.

In January 2019, Delphine became the youngest member of LVMH's executive committee at age 43.

Delphine married Italian wine heir Alessandro Vallarino Gancia in 2005 in what Forbes called "France's wedding of the year." The couple divorced in 2010.

She now reportedly lives with tech billionaire Xavier Niel and has one daughter. But Delphine is notoriously private about her personal life. "I'm quite discreet," she told the Financial Times in a rare 2014 interview. "I think I’d rather focus on my work."

Delphine's younger brother, Antoine, is chief executive of menswear label Berluti and chairman of the cashmere label Loro Piana, both LVMH brands.

In addition to those roles, Antoine was named head of communication and image for LVMH in June 2018.

His partner is supermodel Natalia Vodianova, whom he reportedly met on a shoot for a 2008 Louis ­Vuitton campaign when he was the brand's head of communications.

The couple lives in Paris with their two children and Vodianova's three children from a previous marriage.

Alexandre, the son of Bernard Arnault and Helene Mercier, is the CEO of Rimowa, a German luggage brand owned by LVMH.

The luggage company he runs brings in more than $455 million in annual revenue.

Alexandre travels frequently between Cologne, Germany, where Rimowa luggage is made, London, his hometown of Paris, and Los Angeles, where Rimowa has a store.

He's reportedly friends with Evan Spiegel, the chief executive of Snap, Snapchat's parent company. Spiegel called Alexandre "a really creative guy," according to The New York Times. "He's constantly thinking about the brand and how to express that."

Alexandre's younger brother, Frederic, also has a role at LVMH. He joined the conglomerate as the strategy and digital director at Swiss luxury watch brand TAG Heuer, LVMH's largest watch brand, in 2018.

Frederic graduated from his father's alma mater, École Polytechnique in Paris, and interned at Facebook and consulting firm McKinsey before joining LVMH as the temporary head of connected technologies at TAG Heuer in 2017.

Arnault's youngest son, Jean, is the only one of his children not involved at LVMH.

Like many billionaires do, Arnault travels by private jet.

He owns a sprawling vacation villa in glitzy Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera ...

... where he has been seen enjoying some tennis matches.

Arnault has also reportedly spent at least $96.4 million on residential properties in Los Angeles, in the Beverly Hills, Trousdale Estates, and Hollywood Hills neighborhoods.

Arnault has rubbed shoulders with some of the world's influential figures, in the fashion world and otherwise. In 2017, he met President Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City right before Trump's inauguration to discuss expanding LVMH factories in the US.

He was photographed at parties with Lady Diana, Princess of Wales.

Arnault was reportedly friends with Apple founder Steve Jobs, who once said to Arnault: "You know Bernard, I don’t know if in 50 years my iPhone will still be a success but I can tell you, I'm sure everybody will still drink your Dom Pérignon."

Former Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein once called Arnault "a complete visionary," adding that he "saw the increase of wealth in the world."

Arnault is reportedly longtime friends with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Arnault was a witness at the former president's wedding to Carla Bruni.

Here, Arnault can be seen shaking hands with Vladimir Putin during the Russian president's 2003 visit to the Chateau Cheval Blanc vineyard — owned by LVMH — in France.

Arnault considered legendary late designer and Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld a good friend. "The death of this dear friend deeply saddens me, my wife and my children," Arnault said in a statement. "We loved and admired him deeply. Fashion and culture has lost a great inspiration."

Arnault has a longstanding public rivalry with Francois Pinault, the second-richest man in France, who's worth about $34.3 billion.

Pinault is the founder and CEO of French luxury brand Kering, which owns brands including Gucci and Yves St. Laurent. The billionaire also owns Christie's auction house.

Arnault's LVMH originally tried to acquire a majority stake in Gucci in 1999, but Pinault ultimately snatched up the brand.

Over the years, Arnault has built LVMH into the largest luxury conglomerate in the world and earned himself an imposing nickname: "the wolf in the cashmere coat."

He's behind the creation of Foundation Louis Vuitton, a Frank Gehry-designed contemporary art museum and performance space in Paris that opened in 2014.

As the world's third-richest person, Arnault is getting richer at an astonishing rate. In January 2019, he made $4.3 billion in a single day after LVMH shares surged 6.9%. And just 16 months later, on June 19, Arnault again made news when he became the third person in the world to reach a $100 billion net worth, although it has since dipped below that mark.

And between the end of January and February 27, 2019, he added another $3.9 billion to his fortune, which brought his total net worth to only $2.3 billion less than Warren Buffett's. He then surpassed Buffett in March.

In April, LVMH released a statement on behalf on the Arnault family, pledging €200 million, or about $218.8 million, to help rebuild the recently damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral. While a church official said in June that Arnault and other high profile donors had yet to pay "a cent," Arnault signed a contract confirming his donation at the end of September.

Arnault's jump into second place on Bloomberg's wealth ranking in July 2019 is the first time Bill Gates was ranked lower than second, but Arnault has now fallen back to third place — for now.

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