Net Worth: $41 billion EQUAL
The world’s ultimate arbiter of good taste and Europe’s richest person once again, Arnault orchestrated another stellar year at his luxury-goods empire, LVMH. Sales were up 16%, as Europe, Asia and the United States all did well. Louis Vuitton, in particular, thrived. Arnault called 2011 “another great vintage.” LVMH extended ties to two major brands: first, the Bulgari family transferred its majority stake in its eponymous brand to LVMH in exchange for shares and seats on LVMH's board; second, LVMH acquired a 20% stake in Hermes. The group also formed a JV with one of the world’s leading tanneries of crocodile leather, Heng Long. Arnault hasn’t done as well with his more pedestrian investment in supermarket chain Carrefour, which is worth $1 billion less than it was a year ago. Among his personal high-end collection: He owns yacht builder Royal Van Lent, Indigo Island in the Bahamas (rent: $300,000 a week) and ski chalet Cheval Blanc in Courchevel.
(ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images) More From Forbes: The World’s Billionaire Women The World’s Billionaire Newcomers The World’s Youngest Billionaires The World’s Billionaire Dropoffs The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.