Who is Bernard Arnault?

Bernard Arnault stands behind podium in front of blue backdrop.
IAN LANGSDON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Arnault is the face behind LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), a luxury empire that includes not just the three iconic brands in the company’s name but also such revered fashion houses as Christian Dior, Fendi and Givenchy.

And just this past January, his company acquired Tiffany & Co. for $15.8 billion.

His father, Jean Arnault, made his fortune in construction, and the younger Arnault started his career working for him, eventually taking over as president in 1979.

Five years later, for $15 million, he bought up Boussac Saint-Frères, a company whose assets included Christian Dior. Then, in 1988, he maneuvered to take a majority stake in LVMH.

By the mid-’90s, LVMH’s value had multiplied 15 times over and sales and profits increased fivefold.

How did he become the world’s richest man?

Two designer bags and a pair of shoes sit on a table in a shop.
Creative Lab / Shutterstock

Forbes’ list of top billionaires has long been populated by American names, namely Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Arnault made it into the top 10 back in 2005, then inched his way into the top five by 2018.

But by 2019, he was firmly in the top three with a $76 billion fortune.

Throughout the pandemic, luxury sales have soared, increasing LVMH’s stock price and Arnault’s personal fortune. As a result, he’s been tussling with Tesla’s Elon Musk and Bezos for the top position over the last year and a half.

In late May, LVMH’s stock rose 0.4% in the first hours of trading, adding $600 million to Arnault’s personal fortune and knocking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos down to second-richest person in the world.

Arnault and Bezos traded places three times over the next few days, but by June 1, Arnault was holding steady in the top spot.

How to follow in his footsteps

Close up of a man's hands holding a pile of cash and calculating something with his other hand.
Elle Aon / Shutterstock

LVMH stock, which is currently listed at just under $160, isn’t traded on the major U.S. exchanges. But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy in.

One way to get shares is by way of the company’s unsponsored ADR, or American depositary receipt, which is a U.S.-bank-issued certificate that can be traded like regular stock.

The ADR is only available on the over the counter (OTC) market, though, which is more complicated to navigate than the markets you’re used to.

A much easier way to grab some LVMH stock is through any of the luxury-themed ETFs that include LVMH.

WIth modern investing smartphone apps, it’s incredibly easy to add any ETF to your portfolio. And, once your portfolio is set up, some apps will even automatically invest your “spare change” so your money is always growing in the background.

And if you want to spread out your risk by putting down a little on each of Arnault’s competitors for world’s richest person, you can always buy fractional shares of Amazon, Tesla or Berkshire Hathaway — shares worth $3,196, $599 and $439,615, respectively, as of this writing.

Where to go from there

If you’re keen to get into investing like a luxury tycoon, but there’s not much room in your budget right now, you have a few options to find some extra funds.

  • Bundle up your debt. If you’re struggling to pay off multiple debts and high interest rates, consider rolling your debts into one. Chip away at your debt faster with a lower-interest debt consolidation loan.

  • Slash your insurance premiums. When was the last time you looked around for a better price on your auto insurance? If it’s been a while, it may be costing you more than $1,000 extra every year. Shop around to ensure you’re paying the best possible rate. And while you’re at it, use the same technique to save hundreds on health insurance, too.

  • Save big without clipping coupons. Even if you’ve trimmed your budget down to the bare necessities, you’ll still need to stock up on essentials here and there. When that time comes, use a free browser extension that will scour websites for the best prices and coupons to ensure you’re always getting the lowest prices.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Staff Writer

Sigrid is a staff writer with MoneyWise. A graduate of Carleton University's journalism program, she spent the better part of the last six years writing about business and retail. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking and riding her bicycle.

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