A luxury titan has unseated Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person
Whereas Bezos built his fortune as the proprietor of the internet’s “everything store,” Arnault made his name and money from a collection of companies specializing in finely made leather goods, couture fashion, and high-end spirits. LVMH is the parent behind a number of globally known names in luxury, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine, Moët, Hennessy, and now Tiffany.
Arnault, 72, maneuvered his way into a controlling stake of the company in the late 1980s, in a saga that earned him the nickname “the wolf in cashmere.” He was instrumental in forging it into what is today the world’s largest luxury seller.
Over the past several months, as LVMH has seen its sales come roaring back from the pandemic, particularly among Chinese and US shoppers, its stock price has soared, and Arnault’s wealth with it. By November, he had become the world’s second-richest person and was gaining ground on Bezos.
At the time, the Arnault family held 47.5% of LVMH’s shares, according to the company’s last annual report (pdf). In recent months, Arnault has spent about $538 million buying up more stock, the price of which keeps growing.