The richest in the world prepares his Succession: this is how Bernard Arnault distributes his power after turning 75

Emmanuel Macron awarded a few days ago to Bernard Arnault with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor of 2024, the highest distinction awarded by the French State, in an event attended by Elon Musk y Beyoncé. The French president did not reward the magnate for being the richest in the world but to recognize his business career. In Spain, Arnault is not exactly one of those famous faces, the kind who constantly appear on magazine covers or skin his family on television sets.

Just because fights, disagreements and other gossip don’t arise doesn’t mean there aren’t any and that everyone gets along swimmingly. What happens is that, unlike other puppets that entertain with their family wars, the Arnaults do not need to take a cache for going to insult anyone on a set or to cry over their misfortunes for a few coins.

Bernard Arnault, An example of discretion, he married his first wife, Anne Dewavrin, at just 24 years old, in 1973, with whom he had two children: Antoine, executive director and vice president of Christian Dior (in the image, with his father), and Delphine, current director of Dior. The marriage lasted 17 years; He divorced in 1990 and a year later he married the pianist Hélène Mercier-Arnault, with whom he has three children. Two of them, Frédéric and Alexandre, hold the positions of vice president of Tiffany and general director of Tag Heuer, respectively. Jean, the youngest, is director of marketing and development at Louis Vuitton. There are positions for everyone and money for everyone.

But the owner of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) According to Forbes, he is the richest man on the planet. His fortune would allow him to give a million euros to each and every one of the inhabitants of Oviedo. Some 220,000 people are registered in the capital of the Principality.

Bernard Arnault is so rich that he has the sum of the fortunes of Amancio Ortega y Bill Gates together. He is a partner of Rihanna, he signed with the singer the distribution of her cosmetics line, valued at more than 1.7 billion dollars. He is ‘boss’ of Jaime de Marichalar, he plays tennis with Roger Federer, and above all the owner of world luxury, that is, brands such as Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Hermes or Givenchy; Tiffany & Co, Zenith, Bvlgari, Hublot or TAG Heuer, Sephora, Kenzo Parfums or Guerlain. His are the vineyards and champagne brands such as Dom Pérignon and of course Moët & Chandon.


They say of him that he is “meticulous, demanding and sometimes ruthless.” For this reason, at 75 years old, he has well laid the foundations for what will be the generational replacement of his company, LVMH. Last Thursday, April 18, the board of directors of his company – it is currently valued at more than 400 billion euros – welcomed two new members of his family, his sons Alexandre, 31, and Frédéric, 29, who thus join the power leadership in which their older brothers, Delphine – executive director of Dior – and Antoine – president of Loro Piana and general director and vice-president of the Board of Directors of the Christian Dior SE holding, were already established. , both born from his first marriage.

In the case of Alexandre, executive vice president of Tiffany, had the support of 93.41% of the votes to join the council, while his brother Frédéric, who manages Tag Heuer’s smartwatch activities, received 93.43% support. “I have the majority of the votes, so…” the father said, laughing before the deliberations. Right now the only one who is not part of the board is Jean, the last of the five brothers, who also works in the empire, although the tycoon is clear: “he has time, he is young.” At least, he has a margin of five years to enter the leadership, which is how long Bernard plans to remain at the head of his empire, since in 2022 he extended the age limit to exercise his functions as CEO to 80 years. .

Now, while the opening of a new Louis Vuitton boutique on the Champs-Élysées is underway -where he has already stressed that he is not going to include a hotel, as has been said in several media-, its immediate growth objectives are set in China. To this end, the magnate has proposed adding Wei Sun Christianson to his board as director to succeed Toni Belloni, the number two of the group who announced his retirement at the end of March, but who will continue to be responsible for supervising LVMH’s activities in Italy. . Wei Sun, who comes from the American investment bank Morgan Stanley, is, according to Arnault, “a great expert in business in China. And since the group is very established there, It is important to get accurate opinions on what is happening in this large market. She will make a notable and key contribution to our board of directors,” he stated. In fact, after announcing that this first quarter of 2024 the turnover of his empire has decreased by 2% partly due to a slowdown in consumption in the Chinese market, He said at a press conference after the general assembly: “I hope that economic tensions will ease and that we can continue with sustained economic collaboration with China,” before finally predicting with hope: “I believe that China will be able to reactivate the economy.”

Lover of art, classical music – he enjoys playing his grand piano – and tennis (he likes to share matches against Roger Federer), Bernard has been diligently building his empire for four decades. Born in March 1949 in northern France, his parents were a wealthy family that made an empire in the world of construction. After being a good student and graduating in engineering, Bernard began his professional career in his family business, although he immediately convinced his father to expand the business and invest in tourist apartment developments on the French Riviera.

In 1981, married to his first wife -Anne Dewavrin-, he decided to move to the United States with her and his two oldest children to continue his tourist apartment project in Palm Beach, Florida. Three years later he returned to France and, taking advantage of a financial downturn at the Boussac Saint-Freres company, he acquired the brand that he had been dreaming of since he set foot in North America: Dior. From then on, his rise was progressive until he took over 24% of LVMH shares. Then, He dedicated himself to buying brands that were expanding his empire. In 1990 he divorced and the following year he married the pianist Hélène Mercier-Arnault, with whom he has three children.

At the same time, as his family grew, so did his empire. Today he has not only unseated Jeff Bezos, Ellon Musk or Bill Gates, his leadership remains unattainable. Not in vain, last March French President Emmanuel Macro decorated Bernard Arnault with France’s highest distinction, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, in the presence of American celebrities such as the singer Beyoncé and Ellon Musk himself. Let’s hope that LVMH’s merits continue to accumulate awards when its children take over the company. But that is at least five years away. Until then, Arnault plans to continue being demanding – and sometimes ruthless – in the fight for his leadership..