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Widely acknowledged as the Holy father of Fashion, Bernard Arnault is now the world’s second-richest man in 2021 having a net worth of $189.6 Billion. He is the Chairman and CEO of LVMH (Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton). Bernard Arnault is an arts lover who revitalised Christian Dior and built a billion-dollar luxury brand empire. Let us take a look back at his life, both his triumphs and his setbacks.

Early Life and Education
By training, Bernard Arnault was an engineer. Bernard Jean Etienne Arnault was born on March 5, 1949, in Roubaix, Northern France. He attended school in Roubaix and Lille before enrolling at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris to study engineering, graduating in 1971.

About Family
In 1973, Bernard Arnault married Anne Dewavrin, but after 13 years the couple split. Delphine and Antoine had two children. Bernard Arnault is now a French and Canadian concert pianist who married in 1990 and with which he has three sons: Alexandre, Frankic and Jean, with his second wife, Hélène Mercier. Arnault is a classical amateur pianist, too.

The LVMH was introduced to four of Arnault’s five children. Antoine, 41, is Loro Piana’s President and Berluti’s Chief Executive Officer. Delphine, 43, is Louis Vuitton’s Managing Director and Vice President (and widely expected to succeed her father). Rimowa’s 26-year-old is president and CEO and in 2018 Frédéric, 23, became TAG Heuer’s strategy and digital director.

Professional Life Odyssey

By 30 years, he became the company’s president.
As an engineer, he went to work for Ferret-Savinel, his family’s construction company. Within three years, he had renamed the company Férinel and shifted the company’s focus to real estate, quickly rising through the ranks to become a director and, by the age of 30, president, succeeding his father.

Getting into the Fashion Industry
In 1984, Arnault left Férinel and purchased the near-bankrupt textile company Boussac, stripping the company of all assets except the department store Bon Marché and the fashion house Christian Dior unquestionably his best investment, despite its stagnation at the time.

Took over At LVMH
Arnault stepped in to mediate a tussle between the houses of Möet Hennessy and Louis Vuitton after the two businesses merged in 1987. With the backing of Irish brewers Guinness, Arnault (pictured on the right with LVMH’s then vice-president Alain Chevalier) became the company’s largest shareholder in just two years, assuming control as chairman and CEO.

Shopping Extravaganza
The luxury acquisitions made by Arnault were Céline, Berluti, and Kenzo in 1988; perfumer Guerlain in 1994; Loewe in 1996; Marc Jacobs and cosmetics department store Sephora in 1997; Thomas Pink in 1999; Emilio Pucci in 2000; and Fendi, DKNY, and French department store La Samaritaine in 2001. In Arnault’s shopping sprees, there had been a few surprises among the luxury brands. When he purchased Berluti and Kenzo in 1993, he also purchased the French newspaper La Tribune. After selling it, he bought Les Echos and Le Parisien.

Despite the fact that LVMH was primarily a French company, Arnault desired a large presence in the United States for the company. The LVMH Tower (second from left), a 23-story sculpted glass structure on 57th Street in New York, opened in 1999 with a Christian Dior boutique on the ground and first floors, as well as a flagship American headquarters.

Gucci: The One Who Slipped through the Cracks
In 1999, Arnault began what has been dubbed “the bloodiest fight in fashion” by the New York Post – a “creeping takeover” bid for Gucci. Gucci retaliated by establishing an employee stock option plan to dilute his stake after his stock reached 34 percent. Gucci was later sold for $2.92 billion to François Pinault’s PPR (now Kering). Arnault attempted to take the case to court, but was unsuccessful.

By purchasing British art auction house Phillips in 1999, making a failed bid for Sotheby’s, and then purchasing French house Tajan in 2001, Arnault attempted to break the duopoly of Christie’s (owned by François Pinault) and Sotheby’s. Within a few years, however, he backed out of the fight. However, the game is far from over: in 2015, he invested in the German online auction site Auctionata.

Arnault put a lot of money into the dotcom craze. After investing in and eBay, he founded Europ@web, a European internet fund, with $91 million (£73.4 million) of his own money. However, one of his major bets, e-tailer, went bankrupt just as he was about to floated it for $3.3 billion (£2.7 billion) in 2000. Europ@web was quietly relegated to the back burner. It wasn’t all bad: Arnault bought a stake in Netflix in 1999, when it was still a DVD rental company.

LVMH opened the Cheval Blanc ski resort in Courchevel in 2006, with a two-star Michelin restaurant in 1947, thanks to the Arnault family’s passion for skiing. The hotel chain now operates resorts in the French West Indies, the Maldives, St Tropez, and, beginning next year, Paris.

Every billionaire appears to own a mega-yacht, but why buy one when you can buy an entire yacht company? Princess Yachts and Shipyard Royal Van Lent, which built Arnault’s 101-metre mega-yacht Symphony for $152 million (£122.6 million), were purchased by LVMH in 2008 for around $257 million (£207 million).

On the advice of his son Antoine, Arnault decided to open the doors of LVMH in 2011. The public can now tour dozens of LVMH houses, including the Louis Vuitton ateliers in Asnières and Fendi’s Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in Rome, during “Les Journées Particulières,” which takes place every October. Last year, 18,000 people came to see it.

Bernard Arnault, KBE
In 2012, Belgium disclosed that Arnault had enforced for dual citizenship at a time when Paris was considering imposing a now-defunct 75 percent tax on incomes exceeding $1.13 million (£910k). He refuted doing for tax purposes and decided to withdraw the request a year afterward as “a gesture of my affinity to France and my belief in its long run,” then said that everybody in France should “do ones part” for the nation.

Thanks to LVMH’s ownership of British brands like Thomas Pink and Glenmorangie whisky, Arnault was made an honorary Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour in 2011 and a KBE – Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – in 2013 for “services to business and the wider community.”

Bernard Arnault mentored designer John Galliano, making him the first British designer to head a French haute couture house, first at Givenchy and then at Dior – he even designed Delphine’s wedding gown. Galliano was fired in 2011 and found guilty of making public insults after making anti-Semitic comments in a bar. He sued Dior and Galliano for wrongful dismissal, and a French labour court ruled against him in 2014, despite the fact that he was only fined $1.13. (91p).

In 2013, Bernard Arnault established the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, which was the brainchild of his daughter Delphine. There were over 5,000 applicants, all of whom had to have released at least two collections and competed for a $341,000 (£275k) grant and LVMH mentorship. LVMH also launched La Maison Des Startups, an accelerator programme for 50 international start-up businesses, last year. Bernard Arnault said in a statement that innovation was an “integral part” of his businesses, some of which were founded centuries ago.

In 2014, LVMH sponsored the Louis Vuitton Foundation, which was designed and built as a “transparent cloud” in Paris by Frank Gehry, and consists of 12 glass sails. Bernard Arnault is now renovated to create a cultural hub, where concerts and exhibitions take place, when reopening in 2020. in the nearby disused public building.

In 2014 Bernard Arnault agreed to abandon his 23 percent stake in Hermès, and for five years he did not purchase any shares in the luxury rival. It finished an acrimonious four-year attempt to buy the scarf maker under control with proceedings filed by both parties on charges of insider trade, challenging and unfair competition.

Until 2017 Bernard Arnault announced a deal of $13 trillion to fully acquire Christian Dior and fold it into LVMH, simplifying Arnault’s financial structures and making it the wealthiest European man. Bernard Arnault remained Dior’s largest single stockholding owner.

By the end of 2018, the company had purchased a $3.2 billion ( £2.6 billion) from the luxurious Belmond hotel, train and river cruise company. Belmond is the first Hotel to have been built in 1953 and has established a portfolio of 46 hotels, restaurants, railway services and riverside cruise experiences more than 40 years ago, with the acquisition of Hotel Cipriani in Venice.

Private Island
Richards Branson has Necker Iceland and Steve Ellison’s owner of the 360-acre Bahamas Island, where neighbours are magician David Cupperfield and actor Johnny Depp. He has 98 percent of Lana’I of Hawaii, Bernard Arnault probably possesses 133 acre of Indigo Island.

A serious collector with a number of thousands of modern and contemporaries, including works by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso. Bernard Arnault(photographed with the former French president François Hollande and Frank Gehry in front of a museum of Gerhard Richter oil paintings) has become a serious work of Art. In the early 1980s, he claimed Monet was the first piece he collected.

In proof of the philanthropic side of Bernard Arnault, after the devastating fire struck the 850-year-old church in April 2019, LMVH committed $224 billion (€180.6m) to the fund that would restore Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. “Solidarity with this national tragedy” was called by LMVH as a donation.

LVMH, the probably largest luxury goods enterprise in the world, is clearly an enormous success. It includes 70 companies, ranging from Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, and Heuer to Bulgari – including the Fenty Beauty line by Rihanna. Bernard Arnault says that he has been strongly criticised for putting so many brands together in one group but every competitor is now trying to imitate the “very rewarding model” for us.

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