LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault is Now the 2nd Richest Person in the World

Bill Gates is no longer the second-richest person in the world, per Bloomberg’s and Forbes’ respective billionaires lists; LVMH Moët Hennessy chairman Bernard Arnault is. 70-year old Arnault – who made headlines last month when his fortune topped $100 billion, thereby making him a centibillionaire, a position currently held by just three people in the world – has a net worth of $107.6 billion, putting him just ahead of Microsoft founder Gates, who is worth $107 billion. 

Couple wearing white shirts

image via Adam Katz Sinding

Bill Gates is no longer the second-richest person in the world, per Bloomberg’s and Forbes’ respective billionaires lists; LVMH Moët Hennessy chairman Bernard Arnault is. 70-year old Arnault – who made headlines last month when his fortune topped $100 billion, thereby making him a centibillionaire, a position currently held by just three people in the world – has a net worth of $107.6 billion, putting him just ahead of Microsoft founder Gates, who is worth $107 billion.

The LVMH chairman, whose conglomerate owns Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, Celine, Loewe, and Marc Jacobs, among 70 or so other fashion and non-fashion luxury brands, has been inching up the upper echelon of Forbes’ “World’s Richest” list over the past year, in particular. He first ousted Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega – the force behind retail conglomerate Inditex and its roster of Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull and Bear, Stradivarius and Uterqüe – from the number 4 spot on the world’s richest list, as well as for the titles of the wealthiest figure in Europe and the wealthiest figure in fashion.

Arnault advanced again recently, this time surpassing 88-year old American business magnate Warren Buffett thanks to an LVMH stock surge after the group released its first quarter earnings report in April. That landed him in the top three, following behind Amazon’s Bezos and Microsoft-founder Gates, only to overtake Gates almost 4 months later when LVMH’s stock advanced to a record high on Tuesday, thereby, pushing Arnault’s net worth to $107.6 billion.

Over the past year, alone, Arnault has added nearly $40 billion to his fortune, “the biggest individual gain by far among the 500 people on Bloomberg’s ranking,” the publication noted, largely thanks to gains in LVMH’s shares.

Bloomberg asserted on Tuesday that “were it not for Gates’ philanthropic giving,” largely by way of his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which had given away $50.1 billion as of Q4 in 2018, “he’d still be the world’s richest person.”

Warren Buffett – who has pledged to give away 99 percent of his wealth either during his lifetime or upon his death – would similarly rank higher but for his launch of the Giving Pledge. A campaign that Buffett and Gates created together in 2010, the Giving Pledge calls on the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to pledge to donate at least 50 percent of their wealth to charitable and/or philanthropic causes during their lifetimes or in their wills.

Buffett and Gates have persuaded others in the top 10 richest category, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison, to join its long list of more than 200 participants, who, according to the Pledge, have promised to “give to a diverse range of issues including poverty alleviation, refugee aid, disaster relief, global health, education, women and girls’ empowerment, medical research, arts and culture, criminal justice reform, and environmental sustainability.”

Neither Jeff Bezos, who holds the top spot on Bloomberg and Forbes’ billionaires lists, nor Bernard Arnault have opted to join the Giving Pledge campaign.