'He makes them audition for the role every month.' The real-life Succession family of fashion.

Bernard Arnault, 74, is currently the world's richest man after recently overtaking Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk with his personal wealth of over $200 billion (more than $294 billion in AUD). He is the head and co-founder of global fashion conglomerate, LVMH. He is also the father of five children, Delphine, 48, Antoine, 45, Alexandre, 30, Frédéric, 28, and Jean, 25 - all of whom work in the family business and are undoubtedly vying for their father's top position one day.

Born into an industrial family, upon graduating from a top engineering school, École Polytechnique, Arnault started working for his father's civil-engineering company. Under his leadership, he convinced his father to shift the business' focus to real estate.

In 1984, Arnault by then a fully fledged real estate developer, acquired the Boussac Saint-Frères empire (which owned Christian Dior) from the French government. Arnault soon garnered the nickname "The Terminator" on account of his laying of 9,000 employees in just two years. Forming LVMH in 1987 with Alain Chevalier, CEO of Moët Hennessy, and Henry Racamier, president of Louis Vuitton, he took his ambition to the next level.

Watch: Get to know the world's richest person, Bernard Arnault. Post continues after video.

Video via Wall Street Journal.

Between 1989 and 2001, Arnault lead his new company with unflinching determination, expanding it into one of the largest luxury groups in the world; quickly buying up brands like Guerlain, Loewe, Marc Jacobs and Sephora, as well as integrating Thomas Pink, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, DKNY and La Samaritaine into the group. Groupe Arnault, his principal investment fund, also invested in Netflix in 1999.

Since then LVMH has continued to buy up further luxury brands, such as Givenchy, Dom Pérignon and Kenzo. Meanwhile Arnault is set to retire at age 80 (the age limit for any LVMH CEO). When recently asked by a friend, which of his children he saw as his possible successor, Arnault responded with, "Well, I have five" before his voice tailed off. However, it is said that apparently Arnault's eldest son Antoine, married to supermodel Natalia Vodianova, is picked as being the frontrunner.

Antoine Arnault, the eldest son of Bernard. Image: Getty.


In saying that, all five of his children are currently employed in top positions by the family business. His eldest child, and only daughter, recently received the position of CEO at Christian Dior (LVMH's second largest brand) whilst his eldest son, and other child to his first wife Anne Dewavrin, Antoine Arnault, is the CEO of LVMH's parent company, Christian Dior SE, that's as well as being CEO of shoemaker Berluti, and non-executive chair of cashmere label Loro Piana.

Delphine Arnault, eldest daughter of Bernard. Image: Getty.


Alexandre, his first son shared with his second wife, concert pianist Hélène Mercier, became an executive VP at Tiffany & Co as LVMH bought the jewellery brand. His son Frédéric, at just age 28, is the CEO of luxury watch brand Tag Heuer, while his youngest son, Jean, runs Louis Vuitton's watches division.

(From Left to Right) Alexandre, Frédéric, and Jean Arnault. Image: Getty.


With six years left on the clock, Arnault is said to be planning his succession. In a diplomatic bid to prepare for his inevitable departure from his company, he is reorganising his stock in his holding company, Apache, in order to give equal parts to all five of his children.

However, beyond that, it is said that he "auditions" his children for the role as big boss over lunches at the LVMH headquarters in Paris, grilling them on a range of business-related topics over their shared meal, and asking each of them for their business advice.


The pressure for his children, during these lunches and likely every day beyond that, is on. Although each of them has been moulded for a life in business from birth. It is said Arnault has taken all of his children on business trips from a young age, and that he has always highlighted the importance of mathematics in their education from birth.

Antoine, the eldest son, showcased this by recently sharing an unfinished note he had written many years ago for his younger brother. The note read, "Dear Alexandre, I hope that your birth went well, and that you're alright. I advise you to start working right away because otherwise..."

The Arnault family are tied up with the European elite in more ways than one. In fact, Brigitte Macron, France's first lady, was once the French teacher of Arnault's sons Frédéric and Jean when they were students at the Lycée Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague.

Only time will tell who will take the helm of the LVMH group. In the style of the hit HBO show, Succession (but with better clothes), Arnault has said he's taught his children to put their desires aside and always put business first.

These well-dressed, nepo babies seemingly get along and are all cunning and brilliant business people in their own right. Despite the limited years left as Chair and CEO of LVMH, the future of fashion still remains in Arnault's hands.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

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