WEALTH ACCUMULATOR: Luxury titan Bernard Arnault has overtaken Bill Gates as the world’s second richest person.
The chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has bumped Gates to third position on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $107.6 billion on Tuesday. Arnault’s fortune has grown by $39 billion this year, meaning he likely added another $197 million to his coffers overnight.
The luxury boss only last month became one of three people in the world with 12-figure fortunes, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos worth $125 billion, and Gates worth $107.4 billion. It marked the first time in the seven-year history of the index that the Microsoft founder has ranked lower than number two.
Arnault is the wealthiest European on the Bloomberg list, ahead of Inditex founder Amancio Ortega, the world’s sixth richest person with a fortune of $67.2 billion, and L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, at number 10 with $56.3 billion.
Officials at LVMH declined to comment on the ranking, which fluctuates daily in tandem with stock market prices. LVMH shares were up 0.7 percent at 388.10 euros in mid-afternoon trading on the Paris Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
The world’s biggest luxury group last year overtook oil company Total to become the top-listed company on France’s CAC 40 stock market index. The share price has risen by almost 50 percent so far this year, fueled by continued strong demand for Louis Vuitton handbags and Christian Dior perfumes in Asia and elsewhere.
Forbes on Wednesday listed Arnault’s real-time net worth at $104.1 billion, placing him fourth on its billionaire’s list behind Bezos, Gates and investor Warren Buffett, having briefly reached the number-two spot the previous day. The magazine first wrote about Arnault in 1991 when he was worth $200 million.
French magazine Challenges, which publishes a yearly ranking, earlier this month crowned Arnault as France’s wealthiest person, with an estimated fortune of 90.3 billion euros. Its calculation takes into account all business assets, listed and unlisted, but exclude personal possessions including real estate, cars and works of art.
The luxury industry dominated the French ranking. Chanel owners Alain and Gérard Wertheimer stood at number two with 50 billion euros, and Meyers and her family came third with 45.8 billion euros. The Hermès family ranked fourth, with 43 billion euros, and François Pinault and his family, which controls luxury group Kering, came sixth with 29 billion euros.