French business magnate Bernard Arnault looks set to overtake Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the second richest person in the world following a meteoric rise in his net worth this year.
Arnault, who is the chairman and CEO of LVMH, the world’s largest luxury-goods company, recently became the third richest person in the world after his net worth grew by a whopping $38 billion from January to date, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
As of this writing, his net worth stands at $107 billion and is only a few million dollars behind Bill Gates’s, which is also estimated to be around $107 billion.
Forbes’s Real-Time Billionaires list, whose net worth estimates seem to be relatively more conservative, also places Arnault in the third place, with a net worth of $103.74 billion, only $10m behind Gates, whose net worth the site estimates at $103.75 billion.
Arnault and his family are among luxury titans who pledged more than $650 million in April for the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral after fire ravaged the landmark church.
He controls about half of Paris-based LVMH through a family holding company and also owns a 97% stake in Christian Dior, the fashion house founded three years before his birth in 1949.
Arnault entered the luxury-goods market in 1984 by acquiring a textile group that owned Christian Dior.
Four years later, he sold the company’s other businesses and used the proceeds to buy a controlling stake in LVMH.
His art collection of modern and contemporary paintings includes pieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso.