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Bernard Arnault

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As chairman and CEO of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, 58, heads a global empire that not only pioneered luxury retailing, but also remains its most dominant and high-profile player. The $19 billion company (of which Arnault is the controlling shareholder) has more than 60 brands, including the standard bearer Louis Vuitton, as well as Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Dom Perignon, Fendi, Thomas Pink and Sephora, which has revolutionized U.S. beauty retailing.

Arnault, who is respected for his business acumen as much as his ability to nurture fashion talent, keeps extending his retail clout. In spring 2007, his holding company partnered with private-equity firm Colony Capital to buy a 9% stake in Carrefour. On the home front, Arnault is a formidable arts patron. His latest project: the creation of a center for contemporary art in Paris, designed by Frank Gehry.