Bernard Arnault just became the richest man in the world. So who is he?

Bernard ArnaultChairman of French luxury goods giant LVMH, who just became the first European to top the Bloomberg Global Rich List, downgraded Elon Musk to second place.

On Tuesday, Arnault was worth $171 billion, surpassing the Tesla CEO’s $164 billion fortune. Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Arnault has knocked Musk off the Forbes list “Real Time Billionaire” last week.

Musk’s net worth has dropped by $107 billion this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Arnault’s fortune, which stems from his controlling stake in LVMH, fell by a smaller $7 billion.

The disagreement is due in part to the stock performance of companies in which the two hold stakes. It didn’t help that Musk bought Twitter. Still, his ranking isn’t in immediate jeopardy: His wealth still comfortably eclipses that of Indian industrialist Gautam Adani ($125 billion) and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($116 billion), the latter on Bloomberg’s list. ranked third and fourth.

While Tesla’s shares have plunged 54% this year, LVMH’s shares have held steady on the back of strong sales in the U.S. and Europe. The luxury market has remained relatively stable this year, even as soaring inflation caused less affluent shoppers to change their spending habits. LVMH has a market capitalization of 362.4 billion euros ($386 billion).

Keep a low profile

Born in Roubaix in northern France in 1949, Arnault graduated from the prestigious École Polytechnique in Paris. He started his career at the family-owned construction firm Ferret-Savinel, becoming chairman in 1978 after rising through the ranks.

Six years later, he heard that the French government was looking for new investors to take over Boussac Saint-Freres. Bankrupt textile group owns one major asset: Christian Dior, Famous French fashion house.

Arnault bought control of the group, returned it to profitability, and embarked on a strategy to grow the world’s leading luxury goods company. “In the process, he reinvigorated Christian Dior, becoming the cornerstone of the new organization,” according to the biography on the LVMH website.

Arnault bought a controlling stake in LVMH in 1989, the group formed two years later from the merger of Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy. Since then, he has served as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer.

While many may not immediately recognize his own name, the brands Arnault has played a major role in developing – from Christian Dior to Dom Pérignon – have become household names brand.

Over the past three decades, Arnault has built LVMH into a luxury goods powerhouse with 75 brands selling wine, spirits, fashion, leather goods, fragrances, cosmetics, watches, jewelry, luxury travel and hotel accommodation. In 1992, he opened China’s first Louis Vuitton store in Beijing.

In January 2021, the group completed the acquisition of iconic American jeweler Tiffany & Co for $15.8 billion, the largest ever in the luxury industry.

Arnault’s philanthropy is primarily channeled through LVMH, which sponsors art and culture. In 2019, the Group 200 million euros donated ($212 million) to help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral after a fire destroyed the Paris cathedral.

Arnault has long been Europe’s richest man, but the 73-year-old is far more low-key than Musk and is personally inactive on any of the major social media platforms. In October, he told LVMH-owned Radio Classique that he sold his private jet Because he was shamed on Twitter for his frequent use of airplanes.

According to Bloomberg, Arnault is married with five children, all of whom are currently working for LVMH or its brands.

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