LVMH Chief Bernard Arnault Overtakes Bill Gates to Become World’s Second-Richest Person

Bernard Arnault is on the rise.

The chairman and chief executive of LVMH — the luxury conglomerate that oversees more than 70 brands, including Louis Vuitton, Celine, Givenchy and Fendi — landed the No. 2 spot on Bloomberg’s latest Billionaires Index, released yesterday. With a total net worth of $108 billion, the fashion magnate overtook Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who had been ranked No. 2 for seven straight years.

Bloomberg estimates Arnault’s year-to-date earnings at $39 billion. The 70-year-old Frenchman joined Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the third centibillionaire in the world last month, thanks to LVMH’s shares hitting a record-high 368.80 euros. Arnault controls about 50% of the conglomerate, with a 97% stake in Christian Dior.

Arnault is the first centibillionaire from Europe and the richest man on the continent. Bezos has a net worth of $125 billion, while Gates is just behind Arnault at $107 billion. Gates would be the richest man in the world if his charitable contributions were taken into account, since he and his wife, Melinda, have donated over $35 billion through their eponymous foundation.

LVMH had record-setting sales and profits in 2018, with double-digit growth in both areas. The holding company’s sales reached 46.8 billion euros — up 10% from the same time the previous year — with its bottom line rising 21% to 10 billion euros.

The luxury conglomerate continues to grow. This year, LVMH launched Fenty, Rihanna’s luxury brand, its first launch from inception since Christian Lacroix in 1987. Just this week, it announced a partnership with designer Stella McCartney, who split from rival Kering in 2018.

Below, watch Manolo Blahnik discuss what it was like working with Rihanna.

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