The tale of the world’s second wealthiest man: arnault’s approach to art collecting at the crossroads of fashion and art.
Bernard Arnault is a prominent figure in the realm of luxury goods industry. As the CEO of LVMH (short for Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) he has established a strong position in the fashion and retail sector. LVMH stands as the globe’s largest conglomerate of sumptuous commodities, boasting a portfolio encompassing more than 70 brands, including Louis Vuitton, Dior or Dom Pérignon.
Renowned for his business savvy and LVMH’s triumphs, Arnault is also a notorious art lover and collector. Throughout the years, he has often sought opportunities to collaborate with artists to design products for his high-end brands. Following the tradition emerging ever since the period of early 1900s during which Louis Vuitton invited artists to come up with their creations ranging from shop window displays to perfume bottle designs. Recently it was Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, or Takashi Murakami who contributed to the limited-edition collections for Louis Vuitton. Dior has then partnered with artists such as Anselm Reyle and KAWS for special collections and projects, while Fendi has engaged in collaborations with Damien Hirst.
In 2014, Arnault opened the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, a private gallery showcasing an enduring array of artworks belonging to LVMH and Arnault himself. The architectural marvel that is the building of the foundation envisioned by renowned architect Frank Gehry has evolved into a significant cultural landmark within the city. Renowned for his exceptional privacy regarding his art posessions, little was previously known about Arnault’s acquisitions. The unveiling of the Louis Vuitton Fondation then provided a glimpse into fragments of his collection.
Arnault’s intentional discretion is also a distinct characteristic that sets his art collecting practice apart from other collectors who openly disclose their acquisitions. However, ArtNet News reports that Arnault’s earliest acquisition was a 20th-century rendition of Charing Cross Bridge 1903 by Claude Monet. It is also known the collection boasts with works by notable artists including Pablo Picasso, Anish Kapoor, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to name a few.
Outside his collecting practice, Arnault has demonstrated his commitment to supporting artists and art on a broader scale by championing exhibitions worldwide. In 2019, he generously gifted a selection of significant artworks to the Louvre, encompassing creations by Basquiat and Cattelan. Notably, he became the first non-American collector to be awarded by the David Rockefeller Prize at MoMA in New York in 2015.