What is Bernard Arnault's net worth?

We look into Bernard Arnault's net worth - one of the world’s richest people

Bernard Arnault
(Image credit: Chesnot / Contributor Getty)

According to Bloomberg, Bernard Arnault’s net worth is $170 billion, making him the second richest person in the world after Elon Musk.

The billionaire’s ranking fluctuates between the top spot and coming in second, as he overtook Musk and became the richest person in the world in December, but now sits in second. 

Bernard Arnault is one of the largest shareholders of luxury group LVMH, a company he's built over the past few decades. Like most of the world’s richest people, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos, Arnault’s hard work building a global business empire has paid off handsomely. 

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Here we look at how Bernard Arnault built his fortune and the factors contributing to his net wealth today.

Bernard Arnault's net worth

 Bernard Arnault inherited his father's construction company, Ferret-Savinel, in 1971, although he quickly realized this wasn't what he wanted to do with his life. 

The young businessman sold the company and used the proceeds to help fund the acquisition of Christian Dior in 1985 - the company that would become the foundation of LVMH.  

Arnault had always been interested in luxury goods and with Dior, he saw a company with a strong brand and a loyal customer base, the most important components of any luxury brand. However, he also noticed the business wasn’t living up to its full potential. The young businessman believed he had the skills and drive to turn the business into one of the world’s premier luxury companies. 

He set about looking for other luxury companies to bolt onto the Dior business. He knew that in order to compete with the biggest players in the market, he would need a diverse range of products and brands, which complemented each other. 

With that goal in mind, Arnault merged Dior with several other luxury goods companies in 1987, including Louis Vuitton, Moët et Chandon, and Hennessy, to create the conglomerate known as LVMH. The combined group not only had a great stable of businesses under one roof, but it also benefited from economies of scale. 

The creation of the business came at a great time. Luxury goods have always had a place in the market, but in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were some huge changes going on in the world that acted as tailwinds for the young LVMH.

The biggest of these was the rise of China. 

LVMH benefits from China’s economic growth  

 In the 1990s, China's economy underwent significant reforms, transitioning from a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented economy. 

The opening up of China's economy to the world, through the introduction of market-oriented reforms, created opportunities for businesses to expand their operations and tap into new markets. This led to a surge in global trade and investment, as companies sought to take advantage of China's growing economy. It became an important player in the global economy. Its demand for raw materials and commodities helped to boost trade in these sectors, while its expanding middle class provided opportunities for businesses selling consumer goods and services.

And China's rise pushed down the cost of goods for other countries, freeing up more disposable income for consumers around the world, to spend on things like luxury products

Arnault continued to expand LVMH during this period through strategic acquisitions and partnerships, and as the group grew, it was able to swallow bigger peers. In 1999, LVMH acquired Sephora, a cosmetics retailer; in 2011, it acquired the Italian jewellery brand Bulgari. 

In 2020, the group announced its largest deal, the $16 billion acquisition of Tiffany

With its growing size, LVMH has been able to spend huge ammounts on marketing, increasing its market share and visibility to consumers. 

Bernard Arnault’s LVMH dynasty 

As the company's largest single shareholder, Bernard Arnault has benefitted from LVMH's rise and rise.  

In April 2023, LVHM gave the Tiffany flagship store in Manhattan a makeover and shortly after this, LVMH became the first European company to reach a market valuation of $500 billion. 

Arnault still holds a great deal of control over the business, and members of his family hold key management positions. Earlier this year he appointed his eldest daughter, Delphine, to run Christian Dior, the group's crown jewel. His son, Antoine, runs the holding company that controls LVMH and the family's stake in the enterprise.

The businessman has five children, all of whom have top roles across the group. The 

youngest, Jean Arnault, is the head of marketing and product development for Louis Vuitton’s watches division at only 24 years of age. 

Still, despite Arnault's focus on his family, investors have done very well from owning the shares as well, with LVMH muscling its way to become Europe's largest public company. 

Jacob Wolinsky

Jacob is the founder and CEO of ValueWalk. What started as a hobby 10 years ago turned into a well-known financial media empire focusing in particular on simplifying the opaque world of the hedge fund world. Before doing ValueWalk full time, Jacob worked as an equity analyst specializing in mid and small-cap stocks. Jacob also worked in business development for hedge funds. He lives with his wife and five children in New Jersey. Full Disclosure: Jacob only invests in broad-based ETFs and mutual funds to avoid any conflict of interest.