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New French rich list shows strong links to top châteaux

Here are the top French wine estates with links to France's richest people.

Bernard Arnault, of luxury goods group LVMH, has again headed the list of France’s richest people in the annual ranking by Challenges magazine.

The magazine’s list re-emphasises the strong links between the country’s wealthiest and its most renowned wine names.

Arnault’s estimated fortune has risen considerably in the last few years and stands at €90bn, according to Challenges.

For LVMH, wine and spirits are a core component of its luxury business, taking in names such as Krug, Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon, plus Hennessy Cognac, Château d’Yquem and Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux, as well as Clos des Lambrays in Burgundy.

Following Arnault, and with a similarly meteoric rise up the wealth scale in recent years, are the Wertheimer bothers – Alain and Gérard – with an estimated fortune of €50bn.

Via their Chanel business, they own Châteaux Canon, Rauzan-Ségla and Berliquet in Bordeaux, as well as St Supery in Napa Valley.

In sixth place on the list sits François Pinault, owner of Pauillac first growth Château Latour, with a fortune of €29bn. Pinault also acquired Burgundy’s Clos de Tart in 2017, via his family-held investment company.

The move was part of a series of high-profile investments in top Burgundy vineyards, prompting speculation that this French region was becoming the new playground of the super-rich.

Just behind Pinault, in seventh place in the 2019 list, is the Dassault family of the eponymous St-Emilion Château, with an estimated fortune of €23bn.

Serge Dassault died last year, but the formidable aeronautics and business empire that he built is now controlled by his children, Olivier, Laurent, Marie-Hélène et Thierry, according to Challenges.

Pierre Castel lies in eighth place with an estimated fortune of €14bn, having largely built his fortune in drinks distribution – notably in Africa – as well as in wine.

Rounding-off the top 10 is Patrick Drahi, with a fortune of €9bn. While Drahi has made his fortune in telecoms and media, and doesn’t own a major wine estate, he recently agreed to buy auction house Sotheby’s in a deal worth a reported $3.7bn.

In 11th place, with a fortune of €8.5bn, is the Perrodo family that owns Châteaux Marquis d’Alesme and Labégorce in the Margaux appellation.

Many notable wine families feature further down the list, which runs to 500.

For example, these include the Bollinger family, the de Boüard de Laforest family of Château d’Angélus, and the Moueix family – all with estimated fortunes of €330m. The Cazes family, of Château Lynch-Bages, has an estimated fortune of €320m.

Read Jane Anson’s analysis of the 2017 rich list


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