Arnault vs Musk: The Story Behind Their Battle for Richest Person in the World

Musk’s net worth has taken a wild ride over the past 72 hours.
Updated June 6, 2024
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The title of the richest person in the world has seen a recent tug-of-war between two formidable contenders — Elon Musk and Bernard Arnault.

While Arnault momentarily surpassed Musk, the Tesla CEO has reclaimed the top spot. The past week has seen the two giants go back and forth, as their fortunes rise to higher heights than ever.

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Who is Bernard Arnault?

Bernard Arnault is the billionaire chairman and CEO of LVMH, a global luxury goods conglomerate. Born on March 5, 1949, in France, Arnault is renowned for transforming LVMH into a powerhouse, overseeing iconic brands like Louis Vuitton and Sephora. 

In 2021, LVMH acquired Tiffany & Co. for nearly $16 billion, marking the largest luxury brand acquisition to date. 

Arnault's business influence extends to ventures such as Aglaé Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in companies like Netflix and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok.

Arnault vs. Musk: How Arnault came out on top

Arnault's ascension to the title of the world's richest person occurred as Musk's electric vehicle company, Tesla, faced challenges in the stock market, leading to a significant drop in Musk's net worth.

LVMH's strong sales and a soaring stock price propelled Arnault's net worth to $207.8 billion after a whopping $23.6 billion increase on Friday, surpassing Musk's $204.5 billion last week. Musk’s Tesla struggled in the market, sinking 13% on Thursday alone after the company reported it missed earnings estimates for the fourth quarter of 2023.

The news wiped more than $18 billion from Musk’s net worth in a little under 48 hours, edging Arnault ahead to claim the No. 1 spot — but the victory did not last for long.

Musk back on top

After Tesla shares rose by 4.2% this morning, Musk’s net worth climbed $5.5 billion edging him out to the top spot yet again. 

Behind him now is Arnault in the second spot and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in third, according to The World’s Real-Time Billionaires list by Forbes. Different publications have their own accounting of net worths, but these three men tend to ping-pong between the top spots.

Other billionaires on the rise

In the ever-changing landscape of billionaire rankings, other notable figures are vying for the top spot. Others that currently toggle the top 10 billionaires list include Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Larry Page, and Mukesh Ambani.

The competitive nature of the billionaire hierarchy suggests that shifts in wealth can occur swiftly based on market fluctuations, company performance, and strategic acquisitions.

Bottom line

The constant flux in the ranking of the world's richest individuals reflects the dynamic nature of global markets and the influence of various industries. For Musk, the resurgence underscores the impact of Tesla's performance and Musk's ability to navigate the stock market. 

The battle for the richest person in the world is not just a numerical competition but a reflection of economic trends, industry dominance, and the importance of stock prices on true net worths. For the rest of us, building wealth isn't quite so dramatic, thank goodness.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.