If you’ve ever sipped a glass of Hennessy or Dom Pérignon, coveted a Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Berluti shoes, or strapped on a Hublot or TAG Heuer watch, you’ve felt the influence of Bernard Arnault, the billionaire French businessman who has quietly shaped the tastes of the entire world. A man of exceptional vision who started out as an engineer in his family’s construction firm, in 1989 the Paris-based financier, investor and art collector became the majority shareholder, Chairman and CEO of LVMH, the world's leading luxury goods company, and has remained so ever since.
With a net worth of nearly $70 billion, he is now the fourth richest man in the world (as of press time) according to Forbes, which calculated his personal fortune increased by over $30 billion in one year alone, thanks to a 13% spike in LVMH’s revenue. The unprecedented firm is made up of 70 di˜erent brands divided into six sectors: wines and spirits, luxury retailing, fashion and leather goods, watches and jewelry, perfume and cosmetics, and hospitality and other holdings including luxury yachts.
His phenomenal wealth, as Lloyd Blankfein, former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, points out to CNBC, “was accomplished in a single generation,” making it all the more remarkable. Particularly as just a decade ago many derided the notion that a conglomeration of luxury goods houses—several of them competitor