Bernard Arnault, CEO of French luxury conglomerate LVMH, has long been grooming his five children in the hopes that one of them will eventually become his successor, according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal.
Arnault has a net worth of $208 billion, according to Bloomberg, and surpassed Elon Musk in December to become the world’s richest person. He began building LVMH, which now owns a number of companies including Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Fendi, in 1984 with his acquisition of Christian Dior.
Earlier this month, LVMH’s market valuation hit $486 billion, briefly making it the world’s 10th biggest company. Arnault, 74, also raised the company’s retirement age from 75 to 80 in March 2022.
The LVMH head has two children, Delphine and Antoine, from his prior marriage to Anne Dewavrin, followed by three sons, Alexandre, Frederic and Jean, with his current wife Helene Mercier.
In addition to bringing his children along to business trips and negotiations throughout their childhoods, he reportedly questions each of them on pre-prepared business topics during a monthly lunch held at the LVMH headquarters in Paris.
While he has not publicly stated who will replace him, the decision will be based “on merit,” according to the Wall Street Journal. All five of Arnault’s children have worked at LVMH throughout the years and currently hold executive roles at company.
Delphine Arnault, 48
Delphine, Arnault’s eldest child, was in January announced as the CEO and chair of Christian Dior, LVMH’s second largest brand. “Her keen insights and incomparable experience will be decisive assets in driving the ongoing development of Christian Dior,” said Arnault in a statement at the time.
After graduating from the EDHEC Business School in Lille, France, and the London School of Economics, Delphine worked at consulting firm McKinsey for two years. In 2001 she began working at designer John Galliano’s company, before moving to Christian Dior the next year and later holding the position of deputy managing director from 2008 to 2013.
For the past decade, Delphine was Louis Vuitton’s executive vice president. She has also been a member of LVMH’s board since 2013 and on its executive committee since 2019.
Delphine serves on the boards of Pucci, Loewe and Celine, and was recently named to the board of Gagosian Gallery.
Antoine Arnault, 45
In December, Antoine was named CEO of Christian Dior SE, a holding company that owns the majority of the Arnault stake in LVMH.
Antoine, who attended HEC Montreal and Insead Business School, launched digital company Domainoo, which registered celebrity domains, before joining LVMH’s marketing department in 2005, and joining the company’s board in 2006.
He later became the director of communication at Louis Vuitton in 2007, overseeing its “Core Values” campaign consisting of photographs taken by Annie Leibovitz of stars such as Muhammad Ali and Angelina Jolie posing with Louis Vuitton bags.
Since 2012, Antoine has headed Berluti, a men’s shoe company owned by LVMH. Under his leadership, the company reportedly saw sales increase from $45 million to $130 million in 2013. He was also named chairman of cashmere brand Loro Piana when it was acquired by the conglomerate in 2013.
Alexandre Arnault, 30
Alexandre, Arnault’s middle child, is currently the executive vice president of Tiffany & Co, which LVMH acquired in 2021 in a $15.8 billion deal. Under his leadership, Tiffany & Co has collaborated with streetwear brand Supreme and launched a campaign starring Jay-Z and Beyonce.
Alexandre, who is reportedly close friends with Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, received a bachelor’s degree from Telecom Paris and a masters from Polytechnique, the latter of which his father attended.
He interned at both McKinsey and investment firm KKR & Co before becoming an investment manager at LVMH in 2015, where he led the company’s launch of e-commerce platform 23 Sèvre and its acquisition of luxury luggage brand RIMOWA.
Alexandre became RIMOWA’s CEO in 2016 and oversaw the brand’s numerous partnerships with Supreme, Off-White and Fendi.
Frederic Arnault, 28
Announced as the CEO of watchmaker TAG Heuer in 2020, Frederic has worked at the LVMH-owned company since 2017. Moving the company towards e-commerce, which grew by 329 percent in 2020, Frederic has spearheaded TAG Heuer’s pivot away from promotional deals with soccer and towards motorsports through his partnership with Porsche.
Like Alexandre, Frederic attended Polytechnique and held a summer internship at McKinsey, before running a mobile payment startup that was sold to French investment firm BNP. He also had a brief stint working as a paramedic for the Paris Fire Brigade, according to his LinkedIn.
Jean Arnault, 24
Jean, Arnault’s youngest child, became the director of marketing and development at Louis Vuitton’s watch division in 2021. He recently launched the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives, awarded to those looking to sell their own watch designs.
Jean obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London, where he conducted a TAG Heuer-sponsored project on watch oscillators, before receiving a master’s in financial mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He held internships at Morgan Stanley and the McLaren Formula 1 team, later starting at LVMH as a sales associate in 2017.