François Pinault Net Worth: François Pinault is a French luxury goods mogul who has a net worth of $50 billion. His net worth has grown astronomically in recent years. In 2013, he was worth $15 billion, making him the 53rd-richest person in the world and the third-wealthiest man in France. In under a decade, he has more than tripled his net worth. Although Pinault first became wealthy after starting a timber company, he later ventured into fashion, luxury goods, and art. He is the founder of Kering and Artémis.
PPR went public in 1988, and by 1999 the company had shifted its focus almost entirely towards luxury and fashion. Over the next few years, François started to play a less central role in the operation of PPR. By 2003, he had allowed his son François-Henri to manage his collection of companies. After stepping away from PPR, François became more involved in his true passion: contemporary art. Today, Pinault has one of the most extensive and expensive private art collections in the world.
Early Life: François Pinault was born on August 21st of 1936 in Les Champs-Géraux, a small commune in the west of France. Raised by a timber trader in the rural French countryside, François worked in his father’s timber business at an early age. By the age of 16, he had dropped out of school in Rennes, largely because his peers were constantly teasing him about his rural accent and his peasant family.
In 1956, Pinault enlisted in the military during the Algerian war. After returning to civilian life, François experienced the passing of his father. He subsequently sold his family’s timber business.
Career: In 1963, François started his first wood-trading company, which was later called Pinault SA. With help from bank loans and family support, the company grew rapidly and acquired several other companies, including Chapelle Darblay, which was facing bankruptcy at the time. In 1988, Pinault SA went public on the Paris stock exchange, and this marked a shift in focus for Pinault. At this point, the French businessman started to invest heavily in retail companies, and he purchased majority stakes in companies like CFAO, Conforama, Printemps, La Redoute, and Fnac. In 1993, François renamed his company Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, or “PPR.”
Around this time, François set up a separate company called Groupe Artémis to manage his family’s growing wealth. Artémis controls a wide variety of assets, including a number of highly prestigious French vineyards. Artémis also controls Californian vineyards, magazines, auction houses, and cruise companies. In addition, Pinault is the owner of Rennes football club through Artémis, and he first purchased the team back in 1988.
In 1999, Pinault shifted his focus once again, this time turning his entire business model towards the luxury industry. A slew of acquisitions followed, including the purchase of a 42%, controlling stake in Gucci Group for $3 billion. He also purchased Yves Saint Laurent, Boucheron, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen outright. By 2003, Pinault was ready to hand over the reins of his company to François-Henri, his eldest son. PPR then changed its name to Kering in 2013.
Art: Today, François Pinault and his family have a private art collection of more than 5,000 pieces. His first major purchase was a piece by Paul Sérusier in 1980. Some of the most notable pieces are from artists such as David Hammons, Rudulf Stingel, Koons, Paul McCarthy, Donald Judd, and other contemporary artists. His initially collected 20th-century art by artists like Picasso and Mondrian.
His collection was first exhibited in 2006 in Venice. Pinault has invested heavily into “cultural renovations” in Venice, funding projects such as the Teatrino, an open-air theatre amidst ruins. Pinault also invested in cultural projects in Paris, such as a new contemporary art museum in the center of the city.
In addition, François has invested heavily into the cultivation of new artists, funding various programs and prizes. He created the Pierre Daix prize in 2014 for authors who cover modern and contemporary art in 2014. That year, he also launched a residency program in Lens, which helped develop artists such as Aaron Davidson. Artists who achieve residency in this program are selected by Pinault’s art group, the Louvre-Lens, and several art schools in France.
Wealth Details: As of 2021, Pinault’s family owns a 41 percent stake in Kering. He is credited with his family’s full stake. Pinault is the founder of the luxury goods company and his son Francois-Henri currently serves as the CEO. Pinault holds a 66 percent stake in Pro Global Insurance Solutions and a 25 percent stake in Groupe Fnac. In addition, François owns the 190-acre winery Chateau Latour as well as the auction house Christie’s. Another notable ownership stake is in the cruise line operator Ponant.
Relationships: In 1962, Pinault married Louise Gautier. They subsequently had three children, including their eldest son François-Henri, who is married to actress Salma Hayek. Gautier and Pinault remained married for five years before divorcing, and François then married Maryvonne Campbell in 1970. Pinault credits Campbell with introducing him to the world of art, and he purchased his first art pieces during this period.
Real Estate: In 2011, it was reported that Pinault had splurged on a $32-million mansion in Chelsea, London. Originally constructed in the 1800s by famed architect Phillip Webb, the residence features triple-height ceilings. The previous owner reaped an insane profit margin, as he had originally purchased the mansion for just $110,000 before spending the next 30 years on renovations.