Bernard Arnault, owner of Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d'Yquem, is the world's fourth richest man, with a fortune of US$41bn, according to Forbes magazine's Rich List.
The LVMH chief, who owns a controlling stake in Dior Couture, Tag Heuer, De Beers, Louis Vuitton and a host of other luxury names, is Europe’s richest man – and he is not the only chateau owner to make an appearance in the list.
Of the top 10 French entries, five are owners of Bordeaux chateaux.
Francois Pinault, owner of Chateau Latour, comes in at 67 globally and third in France with a fortune of US$11.5bn.
Aeronautics billionaire Serge Dassault, father of Laurent Dassault who owns Chateau Dassault in Saint Emilion, has US$9.3bn and is listed as number 162 in the world billionaire league.
Alain and Gerard Wertheimer of Chanel, and owners of Chateau Rauzan-Segla in Margaux, have US$6bn and are listed as 6th wealthiest in France, 162 wealthiest globally.
Finally, 8th wealthiest in France (and 304th globally) are Martin and Olivier Bouygues, owners of Chateau Montrose, with US$3.6bn.
The only woman in the top 10, Liliane Bettencourt, also had links to Bordeaux wine property
The 88-year-old daughter of the founder of the L’Oreal empire is the 15th richest person in the world, and second in France with a US$23.5bn fortune.
At the time of Arnault’s purchase of Cheval Blanc, she was reported to be the only bidder he was up against.
Buying a wine property in Bordeaux or one of the handful of the world’s most prestigious wine regions is akin to owning a football club, Alexander Hall, director of consultants Vineyard Intelligence, told Decanter.com.
‘Unlike the more obvious trappings of wealth, such as luxury yachts or private planes, a vineyard is a living, breathing asset that says much more about its owner than the size of their bank balance. It is perhaps not dissimilar from buying a football club. Wine, like football, is about money and passion.’
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux