French billionaire Bernard Arnault became the world’s second richest person. According to Forbes’ calculations, the luxury goods titan behind such brands as Louis Vuitton and Moet & Chandon is worth $103.2 billion. Arnault is up from $76 billion in March when Forbes published its annual billionaire rankings. Prior to, he was the fourth-richest person in the world.
As of Thursday, Arnualt, CEO of LVMH, is worth $300 million more than Bill Gates, who is now worth $102.9 billion. Gates hasn’t fallen below second richest in world since 2008. Although Microsoft shares have been hitting record highs, it hasn’t kept up with LVMH.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos still holds the number one spot for the richest person in the world with a net worth of roughly $124 billion, after subtracting shares of Amazon that will soon belong to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos.
Though it seems unlikely that Arnault could surpass Bezos, both have majority of their fortunes in their companies’ respective stocks, while another jump by LVMH and dip by Amazon could quickly close the gap. Not to mention that Arnault’s fortune has already increased by $27 billion in just four months.
Arnault can thank his high-end buyers for his ranking as theycontinue to pick up luxury goods around the world. LVMH reported record sales and profits of roughly $52.5 billion and $11.2 billion for fiscal year 2018. In the first quarter, sales were up 16 percent, to $14 billion. The 70-year-old also made headlines earlier this year when he committed €200 million ($226 million) to rebuild Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral.
According to Bloomberg, Gates would still rank first if it wasn’t for his philanthropic giving. The software guru has donated over $35 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Aside from Arnault’s donations, he continues to innovate and refresh LVMH 35 years after he got into luxury goods with the purchase of Christian Dior. He also announced a new venture with fashion designer Stella McCartney, nearly 16 months after McCartney left LVMH rival Kering (run by Francois-Henri Pinault, son of French billionaire Francois Pinault) and took full ownership of her company. According to McCartney, several parties approached her regarding a partnership, but Arnault and his son Antoine ultimately won her over.
“I am extremely happy with this partnership with Stella. It is the beginning of a beautiful story together, and we are convinced of the great long-term potential of her House,” Arnault said in the press release. “A decisive factor was that she was the first to put sustainability and ethical issues on the front stage, very early on, and built her House around these issues. It emphasizes LVMH Groups’ commitment to sustainability.”