There’s another unfathomably rich person who owns residential property in LA, although we don’t think it has been reported until now. He is a Frenchman named Bernard Arnault, and Forbes says he’s worth more than $70 billion. That’s enough money to make him the 4th-richest man on Earth, behind only our Mr. Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet.
Arnault has long been head honcho at LVMH, by far the world’s biggest luxury goods conglomerate. LVMH owns Louis Vuitton, Sephora, Dior, Givenchy, Fendi, Bulgari, Hublot, Rimowa, Veuve Cliquot, and dozens of other high-end brands. LVMH is now so massive that Arnault has a virtual monopoly on the worldwide luxury goods market, save for his arch-rivals at Kering.
Over the last two years, Arnault has quietly acquired five very prime residential properties in and around Beverly Hills. And he paid top dollar for all five parcels — by our calculations, his expenditures total more than $125 million so far. And that’s just the land.
It’s not particularly surprising that Arnault would be in the mood to acquire Los Angeles real estate. Though he mainly resides in France, Arnault (and LVMH) already own about half of Rodeo Drive. (He/they paid a whopping $110 million earlier this year for yet another storefront there, and he’s rumored to be in escrow on a $250 million double-lot). And don’t forget that Arnault made his first fortune in real estate, long before LVMH came to be.
Arnault’s first residential acquisition closed in September 2016, when he paid $32,500,000 for a house located on what is oft-considered the best street in Trousdale Estates.
Just last month (October 2018), Mr. Arnault paid exactly $30 million for the house next door, a rather bulky midcentury modern sold by another non-famous family. The house has more than 6,400-square-feet of living space, a large motorcourt and a pool, but we doubt any of that interests Arnault. You can be certain that all those luxury features will soon be headed for the local landfill.
We believe Arnault is planning one gigantic compound to cover both lots, which combined total 2.84 acres of prime real estate (though about half that land is unusable hillside). Both lots are blessed with jetliner views of the LA skyline, the sort of thing from which Southern California real estate dreams are made.
In November 2017, Arnault forked out $16,950,000 for a house high in the nearby so-called Bird Streets of the Hollywood Hills. Scarcely two months later, he paid another $14,500,000 for the smaller home next door. Both houses are located on the so-called “Front row” of the neighborhood, a hillside with spectacular views of the LA basin.
Both houses were soon razed and Mr. Arnault is currently in the early stages of building something homes on the lots.
The final piece of Arnault’s property puzzle is arguably the most impressive of all. Back in June 2017, he paid $33,900,000 for a 3.64-acre estate high in the mountains above Beverly Hills, in an area known as Beverly Hills Post Office (BHPO). It is our understanding that the property was essentially vacant at the time of his acquisition and he is now in the very early stages of building something on the lot.