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Bernard Arnault Surpasses Jeff Bezos to become World’s Richest Man

The CEO and majority owner of the French luxury company LVMH, Bernard Arnault, has surpassed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest individual. According to Forbes, his total net worth is $186.3 billion, surpassing Jeff Bezos’ estimated fortune of $186 billion. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, is in third place, with a net worth of $147 billion.

Arnault made his name and reputation from a series of companies dealing in finely made leather goods, couture apparel, and high-end spirits. In contrast, Bezos made his fortune as the owner of the internets “everything store.” LVMH is the parent company of many well-known luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine, Mot, Hennessy, and, most recently, Tiffany. In a story that won him the moniker “the wolf in cashmere,” Bernard Arnault, 72, maneuvered his way into a majority interest in the business in the late 1980s.

He played a crucial role in transforming it into the world’s largest luxury retailer. As LVMH’s sales have rebounded from the pandemic, especially among Chinese and US consumers, its stock price has soared, and Arnault’s wealth has risen along with it. By November, he had surpassed Jeff Bezos as the world’s second-wealthiest individual. According to LVMH’s most recent annual report, the Arnault family owned 47.5 percent of the company at the time (pdf).

In recent months, Bernard Arnault has invested $538 million on stock acquisitions, with the stock price continuing to rise. Meanwhile, Amazon’s revenues have increased due to the pandemic, but its stock price hasn’t increased steadily since the end of last year. However, according to one analyst, its stock could be significantly undervalued. Bezos could regain his throne if the market agrees and pushes up the price of his stock.

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