Who Is Bernard Arnault? New Details On The Billionaire Who Donated More Than $200 Million To Repair Notre Dame

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Who is Bernard Arnault? New Details On The Billionaire Who Donated More Than $200 Million To Repair Notre Dame

When you think of billionaires, chances are you're picturing a Daddy Warbucks type. He's bald, he's smoking cigars, he's yelling at anyone near him, and his attention is always on his business and his bottom-line. It makes sense in a certain way. After all, if you want to make that kind of fortune, you have to be attentive! 

But not all billionaires are created equal, and this perhaps has been one of the silver linings after the tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris left the building in ruins: just how many people of means are stepping up to the plate, and offering up not just their money, but their time, and their other resources. Bernard Arnault, one of the richest men in the world,and the richest man in both France and Europe, has stepped up to the plate in a big way. Now it's time to find out more about this man of means. Who is Bernard Arnault?

1. He's a Billionaire

It's time to meet Bernard Arnault. He is the richest man in all of Europe and the 4th richest dude in the entire world. That's right guys, we aren't talking Donald Trump rich, we're talking, could probably actually use an ATM that only dispenses gold bars or, you know, buy every single house in the city of Austin, Texas.  The guy is worth more than $91.3 million dollars and has been lauded by publications like Forbes who call him one of "the ultimate taste-makers." 

How did he make that cheddar? he's the CEO of the luxury goods group LVMH, but his roots are pretty darn humble. His family worked in construction, and he actually got his start at the family business working as a civil engineer. He did such a great job, that his dad eventually put him charge and that's when he branched the company out into real estate, and later luxury brands. That's right: this dude built his own fortune.

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2. His Brand Is Luxury 

While you may not have heard of the actual name of his luxury group, you've definitely heard of some the brands it owns. I'm talking booze like Hennessy and Veuve Cliquot, I'm talking high-end fashion like Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. Vuitton, in particular, has enjoyed great success recently, outperforming what everyone predicted sales would be for the quarter. But he isn't just about the lifestyles of the rich and famous (don't tell his super yacht that, though) he also has vested interests in businesses like Netflix. That's right ladies and germs, every time you cough up your monthly dues, you're putting a tiny bit of cash in this guy's pockets. And honestly? You could do worse! 

3. He's Not Just Pledging Money 

Arnault made headlines this week when, after the tragic fire at Notre Dame in Paris, he announced that he and his company would be donating $225 million (USD equivalent to EU)  to help restore and rebuild the iconic cathedral that has comes to mean so much to the city and to the entire world-but he didn't stop there, either.

He released a statement in which he described Notre Dame Cathedral as a “symbol of French heritage and unity,” but then he went beyond mere sentiment. Arnault and the company announced that LVMH was going to dedicate all of its other resources to help with the restoration process.“The LVMH group puts at the disposal of the state and the relevant authorities all its teams – including creative, architectural and financial specialists – to help with the long work of reconstruction and fundraising which is already in progress," said the statement. 

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4. He's More Than Financially Respected

When Arnault isn't dropping millions to save international treasures, he's adding to his totally insane and impressive art collection. ARTNEWS calls him “a major player” in the art world. His own collection includes works by some people you might have heard of, like Picasso, Andy Warhol and Henry Moore, just to name a few. He's even managed to bring his love for art into his business! LVMH is a known supporter of the arts in France. In 2014, the company opened Foundation Louis Vuitton, which has pretty quickly taken its place among the amazing contemporary art museums that line the streets of Paris. The museum is ”Driven by its mission to serve the public, the Foundation is committed to making art and culture accessible to all,” according to its website. 

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5. He Inspired Others 

After Arnault made his announcement about his massive donation and other forms of assistance to help repair the famous cathedral, two other wealthy French families, likely inspired by Arnault's actions, also announced that they would be donating money and spearheading efforts to help repair and rebuild. 

The Bettencourt-Meyers family owns the cosmetic powerhouse L'Oreal and they say they'll have no problem matching Arnault's extraordinary offer. Meanwhile the family's foundation, the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation will be donating close to $250 million to the efforts. The Pinault family helmed by Francois-Henri Pinault (husband of Salma Hayek and owner of brands including Gucci and Alexander McQueen) has stepped up to offer up $113 million dollars. Actually, the Arnault, Bettencourt-Meyers and Pinault families are the three richest families in France. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. Her work focuses on relationships, pop culture and news. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.