François Pinault just gave $109 million to help rebuild the Notre-Dame. Meet the French billionaire who owns Christie’s and founded the luxury giant behind Gucci.

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Pinault in Venice with former French president and close friend Jacques Chirac. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri (ITALY)

François Pinault, currently the second-richest person in France, finalised his $US109 million gift to help rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral on October 1, according to the Associated Press.

Soon after the Cathedral caught fire in April, Pinault’s son announced that the family would donate €100 million, or $US113 million, to repair the 800-year-old building. In the aftermath of the devastating fire, France’s superrich collectively pledged over €400 million, or $US452 million, to the iconic cathedral’s repairs; that includes fellow fashion mogul Bernard Arnault, who also announced that he’d be pledging $US226 million to the cause. However, in the ensuing months, many of those promises were left unfulfilled.

Read more: Bernard Arnault just keeps getting richer. French billionaires have made more money this year than their counterparts in any other country, and they partially have China to thank

François Pinault is tied to some of the biggest names in fashion:Gucci,Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent. As the owner of Kering luxury group, his family manages over a dozen high-end brands.

Alongside other major holdings, such as a winery in Bourdeaux and a cruise line in Marseille, Pinault is one of the world’s biggest private art collectors. His collection includes over 3,000 works of art and is worth over $US1.2 billion.

Keep reading for a deeper look at Pinault’s life, from his company’s origins to his most recent business investments.


François Pinault is one of the most powerful men in the fashion industry.

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According to Bloomberg, he is the 23rd-richest person in the world with a net worth of $US34.3 billion …

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Source: Bloomberg


… and the second-richest person in France.

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Source: Bloomberg


The richest man in France is Bernard Arnault, who controls LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group.

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Arnault is the world’s fourth-richest man, behind Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett. Reuters

Source: Forbes,The Guardian, New York Times


Over the years, Pinault’s successful career has included many calculated business moves and key partnerships. However, some of his most important decisions were made early on in France, where his company originated. Pinault was born in Les Champs-Géraux, a commune in Brittany, France.

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Source: Google Maps, Britannica


Pinault’s first job was working for his father’s lumber business.

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A lumber yard (Pinault’s not pictured). Mark Goebel/Flickr

Source: The Guardian, Bloomberg


In 1963, Pinault founded Établissements Pinault, a timber trading company, in Rennes, France. Pinault also briefly attended College Saint-Martin in Rennes, but left school at age 16.

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Rennes is the capital city of Brittany. JJFarquitectos / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Source: Kering, The Guardian, Bloomberg


In 1988, the company first appeared on the Paris Stock Exchange and two years later, in 1990, the company took on retail distribution.

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Source: Kering


In 1994, the company became Pinault Printemps Redoute after acquiring La Redoute, a French mail-order retailer, and Le Printemps, a major French department store chain.

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The Printemps storefront in Paris. Tuscan Knox / Wikimedia Commons

Source: Kering


After several years in retail, the company began shifting its focus to luxury in 1994 after purchasing a 42% stake in the Gucci Group.

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Source: Kering


The acquisition of Gucci followed a nearly two-and-a-half-year battle with fellow billionaire Bernard Arnault. The New York Times previously labelled the legal war “one of the most bitter fights in corporate history.”

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Bernard Arnault. Getty/Pascal Le Segretain

Source: New York Times


During this time, Pinault also acquired luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent …

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A Saint Laurent storefront. tupungato / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

Source: Kering


… and Italian fashion houses Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga.

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A Bottega Veneta fashion show in Milan. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Source: Kering


In 2005, Pinault Printemps Redoute shortened its name to PPR. Pinault has three children; his son, François-Henri Pinault, was named the company’s new face and CEO.

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François-Henri Pinault. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Source: Kering


Under his son’s direction, the company continued to acquire brands, with a special interest in luxury fashion houses …

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Source: Kering


… and was renamed the Kering luxury group in 2013.

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Source: Kering


The new Kering company sold its remaining shares of PUMA last year, thus completing Pinault’s final transformation to a luxury-only group.

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Source: New York Times, CNBC


Pinault’s son is an active member of the fashion community, regularly attending fashion shows …

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François-Henri Pinault attending Milan Fashion Week in 2015, sitting near famed fashion icon Anna Wintour, far left. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Source: Kering


… along with red carpets with his wife, actress Salma Hayek.

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Source: Business Insider


The two married in 2009.

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Hayek and Pinault promoting a charity in Rennes in 2009. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Source: CBS News


Their daughter, Valentina, is one of Pinault’s grandchildren …

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Source: Reuters


… along with Francois-Henri’s son from a previous marriage, also named François Pinault.

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The three François Pinault generations in Paris. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Source: Reuters


Pinault and his son and daughter-in-law are sometimes seen at soccer games. Pinault currently owns Stade Rennais soccer club, based in Brittany near his hometown.

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From left to right, François-Henri Pinault, Salma Hayek, and François Pinault at Stade de France Stadium outside of Paris. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Source: Reuters


Pinault has also sponsored French swimmer Laure Manaudou.

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Manaudou and Pinault in 2007. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE)

Source: Reuters


Along with his professional sports endeavours, Pinault currently owns the Château Latour vineyard …

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Barrels of wine at Pinault’s vineyard in Bordeaux, France. REUTERS

Source: New York Times, Variety


… has holdings in Vail Ski Resort in Colorado …

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Source: Britannica


… and owns the iconic Christie’s auction house through Groupe Artémis, his holding company, otherwise known as Artemis, S.A.

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A Christie’s auction for the private art collection of late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s private art collection in 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Source: Britannica,The Guardian


Originally founded in 1766 by James Christie, the luxury auction giant has locations in London, New York, Paris, and other major cities. In 2017, Christie’s sales totaled $US6.6 billion.

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Source: Christie’s


Pinault purchased the company in 1998, and has served as a chairman since 2017.

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Pinault with a car for auction in TK. Reuters

Source: CNN


On top of his involvement with Christie’s, Pinault is regarded as one of the biggest private art collectors in the world …

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Pinault in front of a sculpture by Subodh Gupta, at an exhibition of his collected works in Moscow in 2009. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin (RUSSIA)

… and has taken part in many art events over the years, both public and private.

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Pinault at the opening of the previously abandoned Punta della Dogana art gallery in Venice, 2009. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Source: Reuters

Pinault has come to collect historic pieces, along with more contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol.

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Pinault in China, returning two bronze animal heads. The sculptures previously stood in Beijing’s Old Summer Palace, before Anglo-French troops looted the castle during the Second Opium War in 1860. REUTERS/Terril Yue Jones
Source: Reuters


Pinault owns the Palazzo Grassi art gallery in Venice …

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The Palazzo Grassi, with a Jeff Koons sculpture near the entryway. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri

Source: Reuters


… and can be found on the Venice canals, arriving at gallery openings and special events by boat.

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Pinault arriving by boat to a 2006 Picasso exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi. REUTERS/Michele Crosera (ITALY)

Source: Reuters


Most recently, the Pinault family made headlines for their announcement of a contemporary art gallery supplied by their Pinault Foundation at the historic Bourse du Commerce in Paris.

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From left to right, François-Henri Pinault, Japanese architect Tadao Ando, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and François Pinault at the Bourse du Commerce. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Source: Reuters, The Guardian, New York Times


Pinault is supplying the $US55 million dollars for renovations, which will be headed by Tadao Ando, along with his impressive collection, which includes over 3,000 works of art.

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Ando and Pinault previously worked together on projects in Venice, such as the Palazzo Grassi in 2006. Reuters

Source: Reuters, New York Times


Along with his circle of high-profile artists, Pinault is close friends with former French president Jacques Chirac. The Guardian previously reported that Pinault was one of the few people to have the president’s personal phone number.

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Chirac and Pinault arrives at a Venice party hosted by Pinault’s son and daughter-in-law in 2009. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri (ITALY)

Source: The Guardian, Reuters


Pinault has been married to his wife Maryvonne Pinault since 1970.

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François and Maryvonne Pinault in 2004 arriving at the Elysee palace for a state dinner. Reuters

Source: Bloomberg


The couple recently entered the luxury cruise and yacht business, purchasing the cruise line Ponant on Maryvonne’s suggestion.

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The old port of Marseille, France, where the cruise company is based. Delpixart / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Source: Bloomberg


The Pinaults own multiple houses, such as a mansion in London …

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The back of the historic house purchased in Chelsea in 2011. The house was 1868 by famed architect Philip Webb. Google Earth

Source: Business Insider,The Telegraph


… and in 2013, he purchased a Bel Air home from late celebrity hairstylist Vidal Sassoon.

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The mansion was originally constructed in 1959 by Richard Neutra. via Redfin

Source:Business Insider, Wall Street Journal


Though Pinault is 82 years old, he still serves as director of Artemis S.A., a chairman of Christie’s, and honorary chairman of his Kering giant.

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Source: Bloomberg


On April 15, the Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire. Pinault’s son announced that the family would donate €100 million, or $US109 million, to repair the iconic landmark. In the aftermath of the fire, France’s superrich collectively pledged over 400 million euros, or $US452 million, to rebuild 800-year-old cathedral.

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Notre Dame cathedral burning in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Associated Press

Source: Business Insider


However, the church didn’t get the money immediately, leading a representative to publically criticise Pinault and the other billionaire donors, telling the AP that “the big donors haven’t paid. Not a cent.” The vast majority of the funds that paid for the initial clean-up came from American citizens who donated to the church’s Friends of Notre Dame charity.

Source: Insider


Pinault finalised his $US109 million gift to the Cathedral on October 1. A representative of the family also told the AP that the Pinaults also gave more than €10 million ($US11 million) in June at the Cathedral’s request.

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Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of French luxury group Kering, left, his father Francois Pinault, right, and Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, centre, pose after signing an agreement to raise money for the rebuild of Notre-Dame cathedral, in Paris, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. French billionaire Francois Pinault and his son Francois-Henri Pinault have made a 100 million euros ($US109 million) donation for the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) Associated Press

Source: Associated Press