PARIS — Pierre Godé, a board member of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who played a crucial role for more than 20 years in building up the luxury goods giant, has died, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault said in a statement Friday.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Pierre Godé, who has succumbed to a long illness,” Arnault said.

“Alongside my father, Jean Arnault, and then alongside me, Pierre Godé was instrumental in the creation and growth of the LVMH Group. His lively intelligence and sound judgment will be missed by all who came to know and appreciate him,” he added.

While more of a behind-the-scenes player, Godé was seen as one of the luxury titan’s most trusted advisers and protectors. The executive was most visible during LVMH’s high-profile legal tussles with luxury rivals Hermès International and Gucci, investment bank Morgan Stanley, and online players Google and eBay.

An imposing figure as tall as a basketball all-star, and eloquent in French and English, Godé’s calm, elegant demeanor came in tandem with steely intelligence and determination.

In 2013, Arnault named Godé vice chairman of LVMH Italia, a new post aimed at increasing synergies.

At the time, Arnault touted the fact that Godé was “firmly convinced of the essential role played by culture and creativity in preserving the very best of artisanal savoir faire” and added that he helped him promote a business model rooted in “a unique combination of excellence, culture and creativity.”

Born in 1944, Godé became a lawyer at 23. He had worked with Arnault since 1985, rising to the position of vice chairman of the group. He also served on the boards of Christian Dior, as well as the advertising group Havas, and was a member of France’s competition authority, the Autorité de la Concurrence.