Bernard Arnault, billionaire and chief executive officer of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, speaks during the inauguration of the LVMH start-up accelerator at Station F technology campus in Paris, France. (Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg)  

France's Richest Are World Beaters When It Comes to Wealth Gains

(Bloomberg) -- Talk about making a fashion statement.

France’s two richest people -- luxury titans Bernard Arnault and Francois Pinault -- added $22.3 billion to their fortunes this year, helping to make their country the most hospitable for wealth creation among billionaires.

The nation’s 13 richest people have collectively become $27.6 billion wealthier -- a relative increase of 12 percent -- since January. That’s almost double the gains seen by the richest in Japan, the second-best performing country on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The 500 wealthiest people in total have gained less than 1 percent.

France's Richest Are World Beaters When It Comes to Wealth Gains

France’s buoyant year can largely be attributed to Arnault, 69, chairman of LMVH, and Pinault, 81, founder of Gucci-owner Kering. Renewed demand for luxury goods from China and a growing presence in e-commerce have lifted sales and propelled both holding groups into the ranks of France’s most valuable companies. A surge in art sales at Pinault’s auction house Christie’s has also contributed. Arnault is Europe’s richest person, worth $76.4 billion, while Pinault’s fortune is valued at $35.5 billion.

France's Richest Are World Beaters When It Comes to Wealth Gains

The rising tides have also added $2.4 billion to the combined fortunes of brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer -- owners of Chanel --and $3.7 billion to the net worth of France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.

Not all the French billionaires on the index have enjoyed a banner year. Telecom magnate Xavier Niel’s net worth has fallen by $2.6 billion to a five-year low as shares of his phone and cable operator, Iliad SA, have tumbled amid shrinking market share.

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