Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH (LVMHF), has a private non-fungible token (NFT) collection despite his public displays of skepticism toward the digital asset.
“Oh, there’s no question,” said Ian Rogers, the former chief digital officer at LVMH, when asked whether Arnault purchases NFTs on a recent episode of the Aarthi and Sriram’s Good Time Show podcast.
“I don’t think he’d mind if I said this—he has shown me, of his own volition, his OpenSea page,” said Rogers, referencing a digital NFT marketplace. “Which means he had to pull out his phone, find it, and then take me through it. So, yes.”
Arnault, the world’s richest person with a net worth of $204 billion, joins the ranks of other billionaires who have built collections of the digital artwork. Investor and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban, who is worth $6.5 billion, is an avid NFT collector, as are Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who co-founded crypto exchange Gemini and have a combined net worth of $3 billion.
NFTs have fetched millions in recent years. Beeple’s Everdays: The First 5000 Days remains the most expensive NFT to date, after selling for $69.3 million in 2021 at a Christie’s auction, while Clock by anonymous artist Pak sold for $52.7 million in February of 2022.
Why did Arnault change his mind on NFTs?
The revelation of Arnault’s collection marks a sharp turn from his previous warnings regarding NFTs. “We are very much in the real world,” he said during a January 2022 LVMH earnings call. “We are not interested in selling a pair of virtual sneakers for 10 euros.”
The LVMH head also warned that NFTs may represent a “bubble” that could soon burst, comparing it to the beginning of the Internet in the 2000s, when “there were all sorts of things cropping up left, right and center.”
However, Arnault noted that the concept was “thought-provoking” and that “there may be more relevant applications” where NFTs generate profit.
LMVH has occasionally dabbled in digital tokens through its numerous companies, adding NFTs to a mobile game for Louis Vuitton and releasing Fendi accessories for a cryptocurrency wallet. But the luxury conglomerate’s most enthusiastic NFT ventures have been led by two of Arnault’s children, Alexandre and Frederic, both of whom are avid NFT collectors.
Alexandre, whose Twitter profile picture is an NFT from the CryptoPunks collection, is currently the executive vice president of product and communications at Tiffany & Co. After turning his CryptoPunk into a pendant made of sapphires, rubies and diamonds, Tiffany released “NFTiff,” which provides other CryptoPunk owners the opportunity to purchase jewelry inspired by their NFTs for around $50,000.
Meanwhile, Frederic also has an NFT as his Twitter profile image, this one from the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection. As CEO of Tag Heuer, he launched a smartwatch in 2022 with a watch face that displays NFTs.
— Frédéric ARNAULT (@f_arnault) June 17, 2022
In addition to collecting NFTs, Arnault is a prominent collector of blue-chip artwork. Listed alongside his wife Helene as the wealthiest couple in the 2020 list of top 200 collectors by Artnews, his collection includes works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.
In 2014, Arnault opened Fondation Louis Vuitton, a private museum and cultural space, in Paris. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the property houses a permanent collection of works owned by LVMH and Arnault and hosts temporary exhibitions.