How Bernard Arnault became, in a few hours, the richest man in the world!
Steph Deschamps / May 25, 2021
LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault of France is now the richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $186.3 billion, putting him $300 million above Jeff Bezos ($186 billion), and above Elon Musk ($147.3 billion).
The French luxury giant's fortune has risen from $76 billion in March 2020 to $186.3 billion on this Whit Monday, a colossal increase of more than $110 billion in recent months as the performance of his LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) group has accelerated despite the health crisis.
The LVMH group, which also owns famous brands such as Fendi, Christian Dior and Givenchy, has seen its value rise by 0.4 percent in recent hours, bringing its market capitalization to $320 billion and increasing Arnault's personal stake by over $600 million.
LVMH Group and Bernard Arnault are a symbol of the remarkable rise of European luxury and fashion houses during the confinement. According to Jefferies analyst Flavio Cereda, driven by the momentum of buyers in China, LVMH recorded $17 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2021, up 32 percent from the same period in 2020.
Over the period from March 18, 2020, to Monday, May 24, the net worth of rival François Pinault, whose Kering Group owns luxury brands Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gucci, rose from $27 billion to $55.1 billion. At Chanel (not publicly traded), brothers Alain Wertheimer and Gerard Wertheimer, grandsons of founder Pierre Wertheimer, are now worth $35 billion, more than double their net worth of $17 billion in 2020. Even Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of L'Oreal's founder, enjoyed a nearly $40 billion increase to $87.8 billion on Monday.
Over the years, the top of the Forbes billionaires ranking has been largely dominated by Americans, with Americans such as Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett often taking the top spot. Only Mexico's Carlos Slim has disrupted this dominance for a while.
For many years in the early 2000s, the richest Europeans were the founders of Aldi, Theo and Karl Albrecht. They entered the top 10 but never managed to take the top spot. Bernard Arnault entered the top 10 in 2005, with a fortune of $13 billion. The luxury tycoon has been in the top 5 since 2018, and last year he was 11th in the ranking. He became the third richest person in the world in 2019, with a fortune of $ 76 billion. He even passed Jeff Bezos to briefly become the richest person in the world on December 16, 2019. Amazon stock then finally closed higher, knocking the French tycoon down to second place.
Since the start of the pandemic, the net worths of the world's richest people have fluctuated wildly, with many making multi-billion leaps. Elon Musk briefly became the world's richest person in January 2021, when his net worth reached $189.7 billion. This represented an astonishing gain of $165 billion since March 2020, when he was worth $24.6 billion.