France’s Bernard Arnault has beaten Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to become the world’s second-richest person behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Bill Gates has never ranked lower than No. 2 in the in the seven-year history of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, but things changed this year as Arnault added $39 billion to his fortune in 2019, pushing his net worth to $107.6 billion, ahead of Gates by more than $200 million.
Only last month, Bernard Arnault had become the third person in the world with a net worth of over $100 billion after Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Arnault is chairman and CEO of luxury goods maker LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton. Here are a few things you should know about the new second-richest person in the world:
— Bernard Arnault was born in the northern French town of Roubaix in 1949.
— After graduating with an engineering degree in Paris, he joined his family's company and persuaded his father to exit its construction business and focus on real estate.
— Arnault entered the luxury goods market in 1984, when he took over the bankrupt textile group that owned Christian Dior. He sold all of the company’s other businesses and used the proceeds to buy a controlling stake in LVMH.
— In 1989, Bernard Arnault became the majority shareholder of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton, creating the world’s leading luxury products group. He has been chairman and CEO of the company since that date.
— In addition to Louis Vuitton, Bernard Arnault oversees an empire of 70 brands including Givenchy, Guerlain, Marc Jacobs , Sephora, Emilio Pucci , Fendi, Loro Piana, Nicholas Kirkwood , Thomas Pink, R.M Williams, EDUN, Moynat and Donna Karen, along with a host of jewellery brands, including TAG Heuer, De Beers and Bulgari.
— The majority of Arnault’s fortune is derived from a 97.4% stake in Christian Dior, the luxury fashion house. He holds the shares through entities associated with his family-owned holding company Group Arnault, according to Dior’s 2018 annual report.
— Groupe Arnault has invested in Netflix and Blue Capital and also took a major stake in French food chain Carrefour.
— Bernard Arnault and his family are among tycoons that pledged more than $650 million in April this year for the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral after the iconic church was ravaged by fire.
— Besides being a French business conglomerate, Bernard Arnault is also known for his art collection. His collection includes work by Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore, and Andy Warhol. He was also instrumental in establishing LVMH as a major patron of art in France.
— Bernard Arnault has been married twice and has a daughter and four sons.
— He has been awarded the honorary titles of Grand Officier de la Légion d’Honneur and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres.