Bernard Arnault Biography

Bernard Arnault, the richest person in France and one of the wealthiest individuals globally, is a renowned French business magnate and investor. With his sharp business acumen, he has been serving as the Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Company since 1989, where he is also the main shareholder. Starting his career in his father’s civil engineering business, Arnault successfully steered the company towards the booming real estate sector. His strategic acquisitions, including the prestigious Christian Dior brand and Le Bon Marché department store, further solidified his position in the industry. As the first shareholder of LVMH, he played a pivotal role in its transformation into one of the largest luxury groups worldwide, leading extensive expansion plans.

Quick Facts

  • French Celebrities Born In March
  • Also Known As: Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault
  • Age: 74 Years, 74 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Hélène Mercier-Arnault (m. 1991), Anne Dewavrin (m. 1973–1990)
    • Father: Jean Arnault
    • Mother: Marie-Josephe Savinel
    • Children: Alexandre Arnault, Antoine Arnault, Delphine Arnault, Frederic Arnault, Jean Arnault
  • Philanthropists
  • Real Estate Entrepreneurs
  • Height: 6’1″ (185 cm), 6’1″ Males
  • Founder/Co-Founder: LVMH Moet Hennessy
  • Education: 1971 – École Polytechnique

Childhood & Early Life

Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault was born on 5 March 1949 in Roubaix, France. His father, Jean Leon Arnault, was a manufacturer who owned a civil engineering company called Ferret-Savinel. Bernard attended Maxence Van Der Meersch High School in Roubaix and later enrolled in the prestigious École Polytechnique, where he graduated with a degree in engineering in 1971.


After completing his education, Bernard joined his father’s company. He played a key role in planning the company’s expansion and growth. In 1976, he convinced his father to liquidate the construction division of the company and invest the proceeds in a more lucrative business. The Arnaults received 40 million French francs from the liquidation, which they invested in the booming real estate sector. The company, now renamed Ferinel, became very successful, specializing in holiday accommodation.

Bernard Arnault became the director of company development in 1974 and was named CEO in 1977. He succeeded his father as president of the company in 1979. In 1981, when the French Socialists came to power, Arnault and his family moved to the United States. There, he prospered by developing condominiums in Palm Beach, Florida, and eventually started a U.S. branch of his family’s property business.

In 1983, the political scenario in France changed, and Arnault decided to return home. He saw a lucrative opportunity when the textile firm Boussac Saint-Frères went bankrupt. Collaborating with Antoine Bernheim, managing partner of the investment firm Lazard Fréres, Arnault acquired Boussac, which included the couture house of Christian Dior. After selling off most of the company’s assets, he became the CEO of Dior in 1985.

Arnault’s next major move came in 1987 when he was invited to invest in LVMH by the company’s chairman, Henri Racamier. He invested through a joint venture with Guinness PLC and gradually increased his shares in the company. By January 1989, Arnault gained control over 43.5% of LVMH’s shares and was elected chairman of the executive management board.

Major Work

Bernard Arnault’s takeover of LVMH was a highly ambitious move. He displayed determination and ruthlessness in the systematic takeover of the company and successfully integrated various famous brands into the group. His success has inspired other fashion companies worldwide to follow a similar path.

Awards & Achievements

Arnault was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honour in 2007 and a Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour in 2011. In 2011, he received the Corporate Citizenship award from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Personal Life & Legacy

Bernard Arnault has been married twice. His second wife, Helene Mercier, is a pianist. He has two children from his first marriage and three from his second.

Philanthropic Works

Arnault’s company, LVMH, is involved in various philanthropic activities. It supports humanitarian, scientific, and medical research organizations such as Save the Children, the Foundation for Hospitals in Paris, and the Princess Grace of Monaco Foundation.


Arnault is a well-known art collector and has pieces by Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore, and Andy Warhol in his collection.

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