France has been one of the main European and worldwide countries with exceptional artists, artworks, and art patrons. Devotion to art has made many lose their minds, create the impossible, and even become rivals. This is the case of two of the world’s most known art kingpins; Pinault and Arnault.
In 2019, the significant fire that caused large damages to the 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral was a chance for these two Frenchman to battle in the hopes of saving this iconic monument. The Pinault family donated €113 million to aid the reconstruction of the iconic cathedral. While Arnault pledged €200 million for the cathedral’s recovery. Although for a great cause of cultural history, this was another competitive cultural scene adorned by these rivals.
For decades François Pinault and Bernard Arnault have jostled for business and art, allowing them to take over the cultural landscape of France and letting their rivalry hit the public eye from time to time.
Born in 1963, François-Henri Pinault, started working for his family’s firm and quickly turning them into profitable businesses. Now a businessman, chairman and CEO of the multinational fashion corporation Kering since 2005. His devotion to collecting contemporary art has made him boast a personal fortune estimated to be around €40 billion. His astonishing art collection includes works of Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol.
Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault, the other kingpin of art is a businessman, investor, art collector, chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, and not to mention the third richest person worldwide. His collection includes work by Andy Warhol, Picasso, Yves Klein, and Henry Moore. Dedicated to the creation and contemporary art, Arnault started building the Louis Vuitton Foundation in 2006.
These two french men who contend for the title of prince-patron have a lot more in common than they imagine, as they both carry a huge passion for collecting art that continues to expand and benefit the art world. How they continue to battle for art, business and culture still remains to be seen, but for now, the intrigue remains as well as their infamous art collection.