Bernard Arnault, the chairman of the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, has reached the threshold of becoming the third person worth over $100 billion, joining Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Arnault, who was already Europe's richest person, is the continent's first and only centibillionaire, according to CNBC.
Arnault cemented his place in the world's most exclusive wealth club Tuesday, after LVMH’s stock jumped 2.9 percent to 368.80€ a share. His fortune has increased by $32 billion this year alone, bringing his net worth to $100.4 billion.
In terms of what accounted for his increase in wealth, LVMH is home to many of the world's leading fashion houses, including Louis Vuitton—where Virgil Abloh is at the helm of menswear creative, Fendi, Celine (formerly known as Céline), Dior, Givenchy, and most recently, Rihanna's Fenty. According to Bloomberg, the increased demand for Louis Vuitton handbags and Hennessy cognac from Chinese consumers have contributed to Arnault's ascendance to the centibillionaire club.
Arnault's $100.4 billion fortune now equals more than 3 percent of France’s economy. The wealth gap in the country has been the subject of much debate in recent months after protesters called on the government to, among other things, reintroduce the tax on the mega-rich. In addition to controlling half of LVMH through a family holding company, Arnault owns a 97 percent stake in Christian Dior, which he bought in 1985 for $15 million.
Other French multibillionaires also fared well on Bloomberg’s ranking in 2019. Kering Group‘s François Pinault, another luxury fashion conglomerate home to Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and more, came in at No. 23, whereas Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the world's richest woman and the heiress to the L'Oreal fortune, came in at No. 9.