May 19, 2022

As Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), the parent company of Louis Vuitton,  stock climbs, Bernard Arnault becomes the world’s richest person. Reaching an estimated net worth of $186.3 billion, the French fashion mogul claims the throne as the world’s richest person early Monday morning, surpassing Jeff Bezos, who is worth $186 billion, and Elon Musk, who is worth $147.3 billion.

Arnault’s fortune soared from $76 billion in March 2020 to $186.3 billion on Monday, a stunning increase of more than $110 billion in just 14 months because of his luxury business LVMH’s pandemic-defying performance.

LVMH, which also owns iconic names such as Fendi, Christian Dior, and Givenchy, climbed 0.4 percent in early trading on Monday, bringing its market capitalization to $320 billion and increasing Arnault’s ownership by more than $600 million.

Arnault and his fashion house exemplify Europe’s extraordinary expansion of luxury and fashion houses during the lockdown. LVMH reported $17 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2021, up 32% from the same time in 2020, according to Jefferies analyst Flavio Cereda.

From March 18, 2020, to Monday, rival François Pinault’s net worth increased from $27 billion to $55.1 billion. His Kering Group controls luxury brands Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and Gucci. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, the grandsons of Chanel founder Pierre Wertheimer, are now worth $35 billion, more than doubling their net worth in 2020. Even the granddaughter of L’Oréal’s founder, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, had her fortune nearly doubled to $87.8 billion on Monday.

Americans have primarily controlled the very top of Forbes’ billionaires list over the years. For the better part of two decades, US citizens Bezos, Musk, Gates, and Buffett have held the top rank, with only Mexico’s Carlos Slim breaking their supremacy for an extended period.

Arnault has been included in the top five since 2018, having previously been ranked 11th. In 2019, he became the third-richest person in the world, with a wealth of $76 billion. He even momentarily surpassed Bezos to become the world’s richest person on December 16, 2019, at approximately 10:30 a.m. EST.