Who Is Bernard Arnault?

Bernard Arnault is the founder, chair, and CEO of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, which owns about 75 luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.

Understanding Bernard Arnault

Bernard Arnault was born in 1949 and lives in Paris, France. Arnault ranks among the richest people in the world. According to the 2021 Bloomberg Billionaires Index, on Sept. 6, 2021, he had a real-time net worth of $164 billion and he sat in third place (just above Bill Gates) on the list of the richest people in the world.

LVMH is a French holding company, formed through a 1987 merger, that owns about 75 internationally recognized luxury good brands, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Sephora, Moët et Chandon, and Hennessy. The majority of LVMH's brands fall into the categories of wine and spirits, fashion and leather goods, perfumes and cosmetics, and watches and jewelry.

In April 2017, Arnault bought out Christian Dior, consolidating control and simplifying the complex brand structure. This deal and record results at LVMH boosted his fortune by $30.5 billion. In the 1980s, Arnault originally took control of Dior’s parent company Financière Agache for $15 million, an investment of his father’s money earned in the construction business.

Bernard Arnault, Patron of the Arts

An art lover and patron, Arnault is considered a tastemaker and has demonstrated his support for arts organizations and individual artists, both established and emerging, in many aspects.

In 2014, Arnault unveiled his $166 million Frank Gehry-designed museum for the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris' Bois de Boulogne.

Arnault frequently asks artists to design products for LVMH’s brands: Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami both made handbags for Louis Vuitton, and Jeff Koons designed a special edition package for Dom Perignon.

As an art collector, he is known for a collection of contemporary art, which includes work by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, and Yves Klein. Through his company, he created the LVMH Young Fashion Designer competition, a competition open to students from fine-arts schools all over the globe. The winner is awarded a grant to support the creation of a label and comes with a year of mentorship. Arnault owned Phillips de Pury & Company, an art auction house, from 1999 to 2003.

Arnault is married to Helene Mercier, a concert pianist, whom he is said to have wooed through their mutual love of classical music.