Albert Frère, the billionaire veteran Belgian businessman and who became co-owner of Château Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux after investing with Bernard Arnault, has died aged 92.
Albert Frère’s death was announced today (3 December) by Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL). He was honorary chairman and co-controlling shareholder of the firm.
GBL paid tribute to him in its statement, saying ‘his professional and human qualities have deeply marked our group’.
In the wine world, Frère was best known as the co-owner of Cheval Blanc, alongside Bernard Arnault, of LVMH fame.
The pair bought Cheval Blanc in 1998. No fee was disclosed but French newspaper Le Fiagro reported in 2012 that the deal was worth around 150 million euros.
In 2008, the two businessmen bought another St-Emilion estate, Château Quinault, from Dr Alain Raynaud.
Château Cheval Blanc and d’Yquem director Pierre Lurton paid tribute to him, ‘He was a great man with a winegrower’s vision.’
‘He often came to Cheval-Blanc for the harvest and throughout the year. He was also a driving force behind the development of a white wine at Cheval-Blanc.’
Beyond wine, Frère had built up a reputation as a canny investor and deal maker via a string of astute moves.
He left school at 17 after the death of his father and ran the family nail merchant business. However, investments in steel and, later, financial sectors expanded his wealth significantly.
His fortune was this year valued at $5.8 billion by Forbes magazine.
Updated on 4th December 2018 with tribute from Pierre Lurton. Additional reporting from Yohan Castaing.