LVMH billionaire Bernard Arnault’s fortune has crossed the $100 billion threshold to reach $100.4 billion, an increase of nearly $32 billion this year, according to Bloomberg. That’s the largest net worth bump seen by anyone on the 500-member Bloomberg Billionaires Index this year.
The boost comes in part from increased demand for Louis Vuitton handbags and Hennessy cognac among Chinese consumers that’s helped raise LVMH’s share price 43% this year.
Already Europe’s richest person, Arnault is now the continent’s first centibillionaire. His fortune, analysts say, now equals more than 3% of France’s economy.
Arnault, 70, is chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton, and controls about half of the empire through a family holding company. The world’s largest luxury goods company, LVMH’s rich portfolio includes brands like Dom Pérignon, Louis Vuitton and Sephora and spans spirits, fashion, jewelry, retail and travel. In 1985, Arnault took $15 million from his father’s construction business to buy Christian Dior, in which he holds a 97% stake.
Arnaut, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are the only three people who’ve crossed the $100 billion threshold.
The Amazon founder’s net worth reached the $100 billion mark in November 2017, and Bloomberg currently estimates his fortune at $119 billion. He first overtook Gates in July 2017, ending the Microsoft founder’s 24-year hold on the title of world’s richest, and passed him again in October of 2018. Bezos’ net worth dropped $40 billion earlier this year after he reached a divorce settlement with MacKenzie Bezos.
Gates is believed to have been the first and only other person to cross the $100 billion threshold, which he did in 1999 with the dot-com bubble. Bloomberg currently estimates his fortune at $106 billion, and reports that Gates has donated more than $35 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.