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# Jean-Claude Decaux

Random fact: First son, Jean-Francois, is a world renowned polo player.


Decaux was the founder and largest shareholder of JCDecaux, the world's biggest outdoor advertising agency. The publicly traded company is based in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France and had revenue of 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) in 2015 and its billboards are seen by more than 390 million people every day. Decaux died on May 27, 2016.

As of Sept. 22, 2017:
Last change ()
YTD change ()
Industry Advertising
Biggest asset N/A
Citizenship France
Age 78
Wealth Self-made
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Relative Value

Jean-Claude Decaux's net worth of can buy ...

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... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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Birthdate: 9/15/1937
Family: Married, 3 children

Jean-Claude Decaux was born in Beauvais, France, in 1937. The son of a shoe salesman, he displayed an early talent for visual displays, often arguing with his father over the windows in the family store. He set up a company to assemble roadside billboards when he was 18 and, in 1963, shut it down after the government enacted rules that limited the number of advertisements allowed on highways. In response, Decaux came up with the idea of building bus shelters with side panels that could hold advertising posters, creating a new type of billboard.

He established JCDecaux in 1964, and signed a deal with the city of Lyon, France, to build the shelters at no cost in return for an exclusive 20-year contract to sell advertising on them. He began approaching other cities with the same idea, signing Paris to an agreement in 1972, and installing the city's first ad-supported, self-cleaning public toilets eight years later. The company brought the toilets to London in 1983 and, since then, has installed more than 2,500 worldwide. Decaux listed the company in Paris in 2001, a year after he appointed his two sons, Jean-Francois and Jean-Charles, as co-CEOs, naming himself chairman.

His close relationships with local politicians have twice landed him in court. The first instance was in 1992, when he was convicted of spending $30,000 on campaign expenses and luxury vacations for the mayor and other city officials in Liege, Belgium. Decaux received a one-year suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a fine of 60,000 francs. A court in Bordeaux, France, fined him in 2000 for winning a no-bid contract for school clocks in the French region of Aquitaine, according to the company's IPO prospectus.

A fan of cycling, Decaux came up with the idea of self-service bicycle rentals for cities, that could also be funded with advertising revenue. Vienna was the first city to install the bikes, building 900 self-service sites in 2002. Lyon adopted the plan in 2005 and other cities including Paris, Brussels, Marseille and Luxembourg have joined in. Decaux beat out a rival company to win the Paris contract in 2007, starting with 20,000 bicycles, under the brand name Velib, a combination of two French words, velo, which translates as "bicycle," and liberte, which translates as "freedom."

Decaux stepped down from the board on May 15, 2013, when he appointed Jean-Francois chairman. He died on May 27, 2016.

  • 1937 Jean-Claude Decaux is born in Beauvais, France.
  • 1957 Decaux forms first company placing signs along French roadsides.
  • 1964 Sets up JCDecaux and wins bus shelter contract in Lyon, France.
  • 1992 Convicted of making illegal political donations in Belgium.
  • 1999 Acquires outdoor advertising unit of Havas Media for $900 million.
  • 2001 Sells shares in an IPO in Paris for 16.50 euros per share.
  • 2001 Wins $750 million contract to build bus shelters in Los Angeles.
  • 2003 Starts first self-service bicycle rental program in Vienna.
  • 2013 Retires at 75 from company's supervisory board.
  • 2016 Dies at age 78.