The owner of a luxury goods company has surpassed two well-known entrepreneurs to become the richest person in the world.
Bernard Arnault, the CEO and Chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA LVMUY, is now the world’s richest person, as reported by QZ.com.
Right now, it's mainly a battle between Arnault and Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN founder Jeff Bezos that has seen the two bounce back and forth several times between first and second places, which will probably continue to happen.
Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk ranks third on the list and was passed by Arnault earlier this year.
Here are five interesting facts about Arnault that you may not know:
Engineering to Fashion: Known by nicknames such as the “Pope of Fashion,” some may be surprised to learn Arnault earned a degree from the Ecole Polytechnique in engineering.
Arnault also took control of his father’s construction firm Ferret-Savinel and spent many years in the construction field before shifting the company to a focus on real estate.
Arnault is a legend in the fashion world after merging several top luxury brands under the LVMH holding company. Arnault also helped boost the careers of Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs, who worked for various LVMH brands.
Textile Start: Arnault spent $15 million along with other investors who raised $65 million to purchase a bankrupt textile company that owned the fashion house, Christian Dior.
The start from textiles is similar to the start for Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway.
Arnault took over Financière Agache, a holding company that owned Christian Dior, a department store, a retailer and a diaper maker. Arnault divested all of the components except for Christian Dior and the Le Bon Marche department store.
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Control of LVMH: Arnault was invited by LVMH Chairman Henri Racamier to invest in LVMH. A joint venture with Guinness saw Arnault increase ownership in LVMH and force out Racamier. Guinness, which is now owned by Diageo plc DEO, invested $408 million in the joint venture. LVMH owned 10% of Guinness shares at the time of the joint venture creation.
Arnault and his family now own 47.5% of LVMH shares. Through years of acquisitions, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton now owns brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Celine, Moët & Chandon, Hennessy and Tiffany.
Arnault has served as CEO and Chairman of the company for decades.
Art Collector: Arnault is an art collector who prefers modern art. Pieces in Arnault’s collection include works by Pablo Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore, Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol.
Distinct French Honor: One of Arnault's accolades is as a member of the Legion of Honour, the highest honor of merit a person can receive in France both civil and military.
The Legion of Honour was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte and includes the roles of knights, officers, commanders, grand officers and grand cross. Arnault was named a Commander of the Legion of Honour in 2007 and rose to the role of Grand Officer years later.
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