The billionaire owner of French luxury group LVMH lost a mini fortune — about $1.6 billion — the day after President Donald Trump targeted high-end French goods like Louis Vuitton bags and Moët champagne with U.S. tariffs.
Mr. Trump vowed Monday to impose tariffs of up to 100% on $2.4 billion in French goods like Champagne, cheese and handbags in retaliation for France’s tax on digital services targeting U.S. tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Mr. Trump’s threat particularly hurt publicly traded LVMH, one of the world’s biggest producers of Champagne with brands like Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon. The luxury products group — 50% owned by Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault and his family — also makes and sells such distinctive fashion brands as Bulgari, Christian Dior, Fendi and Marc Jacobs.
LVMH shares fell 1.5% during Tuesday trading in Paris, costing Arnault around $1.6 billion in a single day, according to FactSet data. The total value of his LVMH holdings was $104 billion on Tuesday, down from $108 billion at the end of Friday as trade tensions between France and the U.S. began simmering over the weekend.
Arnault had been on a roll just a week earlier, seeing his net worth jump after LVMH agreed to buy iconic Manhattan jeweler Tiffany’s for $16 billion. According to Forbes’ ranking of the world’s richest billionaires, the purchase boosted LVMH shares and briefly vaulted Arnault into the No. 2 slot with an estimated net worth of $107.8 billion, slightly ahead of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose net worth Forbes pegged at $107.5 billion last week. It also put the French mogul within striking distance of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, No. 1 on the list with an estimated net worth of roughly $112 billion last week.
According to both Forbes’ and Bloomberg’s ranking of world billionaires, Arnault still sits comfortably with the status of the world’s third richest billionaire.
The trio also have a clear lead over other billionaires. The next three ultra-wealthy figures on Forbes’s list — investor Warren Buffett, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Oracle’s Larry Ellison — are worth roughly $86 billion, $73 billion and $69 billion, respectively.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is now piling some of his money into running for president, lands at No. 14, with a net worth of $54 billion, while Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family — heirs to the L’Oreal cosmetics fortune — rank No. 12 at roughly $55 billion.
— CBS News senior reporter Stephen Gandel contributed reporting.
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