The French resent me, says Bernard Arnault

World’s second richest man, Bernard Arnault, hits out at his countrymen in France for resenting his wealth, saying they like to criticise the successful

The world’s second richest man has hit out at his countrymen in France for resenting his wealth, saying they like to criticise the successful.

Bernard Arnault, the boss of luxury goods giant LVMH whose fortune is estimated by Forbes to be £178billion, said the French prefer losers to billionaires like himself.

Speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro, the fashion mogul said: ‘France is a country that likes to criticise, especially those who succeed and who are a bit known. I am first in my domain.’

He said the French ‘always prefer Poulidor’, a reference to cyclist Raymond Poulidor, who was known as ‘the eternal second’ after he was the runner-up in the Tour de France three times in the 1960s and 1970s.

Arnault’s empire includes Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, Christian Dior, Fendi and Givenchy.

Hitting out: Bernard Arnault (pictured with daughter Delphine)

Hitting out: Bernard Arnault (pictured with daughter Delphine)

The 74-year-old, who has earned the sobriquet ‘the wolf in cashmere’, is the third person in history to amass a fortune of $200billion. Only Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk is richer than him.

He also accused Left-wing critics of wanting to turn France into Venezuela, following criticism from the leader of a French radical Left party that being a top billionaire is ‘the worst of offences’.

Arnault said: ‘Criticism of the market economy has more resonance because the extremes are currently very noisy. Their only obsession is to increase taxes still further when they are already higher than everywhere else in Europe.

‘You sometimes get the impression that their model is Venezuela, although extreme poverty reigns there.’ Arnault also lashed out at the country’s Right wing, arguing its leaders ‘give the impression of being ashamed and of seeking the approval of voters who won’t vote for them anyway’.

It is not the first time Arnault has been caught in the crosshairs of a French malaise towards the super-wealthy. Left-wing newspaper Liberation dubbed him a ‘rich jerk’, after he pledged to seek Belgian nationality in 2012 over a 75 per cent supertax on top earners.

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