Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#38 Leonardo del Vecchio $21.1B

Random fact: Owns 203-foot yacht Moneikos, outfitted with elevator.

Overview

Del Vecchio is the founder and largest shareholder of Luxottica Group, the world's biggest eyewear retailer. The Milan-based company had revenue of 9 billion euros ($10 billion) in 2016 from selling brands such as Ray-Ban and Oakley. Luxottica agreed in January 2017 to merge with Essilor International, a French rival.

As of July 22, 2017:
Last change -$297M (-1.4%)
YTD change +$2.77B (+15.1%)
Industry Consumer
Biggest asset LUX IM Equity
Citizenship Italy
Age 82
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Leonardo del Vecchio's net worth of $21.1B can buy ...

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troy ounces of gold
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barrels of crude oil

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Del Vecchio's fortune derives from his 62.5 percent stake in Milan-based Luxottica Group, which designs, manufactures, distributes and sells fashion, luxury and sports eyewear. Del Vecchio holds shares in the eyewear industry's biggest retailer through his family's closely held, Luxembourg-based holding company, Delfin, and is credited with all the shares to reflect his status as company founder and chairman.

Through Delfin, he also owns stakes in four other publicly traded companies: French real estate investment fund Fonciere des Regions; Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali; UniCredit, an Italian bank; and Avio, an Italian acquisition company.

Del Vecchio and his family own all of Delfin, and Del Vecchio controls all of Delfin's voting rights. The billionaire is credited with 100 percent of Delfin because he's the founder of Luxottica.

The calculation of the billionaire's liabilities is based on the cost of acquiring public holdings minus dividends. It also includes the net debt of Delfin, according to a June 2017 e-mail to Bloomberg from Marco Catalani, a spokesperson for Luxottica Group.

Biography

Birthdate: 5/22/1935
Family: Married, 6 children
Education:

Born in 1935, Leonardo Del Vecchio grew up poor and fatherless in Milan. Unable to care for her son, his mother -- widowed five months before Del Vecchio was born -- sent him to an orphanage when he was seven years old. At age 14, he began working as an apprentice to a tool and dye manufacturer in Milan.

In 1961, in a small town north of Venice, Del Vecchio opened his own workshop making metal components and other semi-finished products used to make eyeglass frames. By the end of the 1960s, Del Vecchio had expanded the group into a full-fledged manufacturer, capable of producing a set of frames from start to finish. Its first collection of optical frames was introduced in 1971. After five years selling exclusively to wholesale dealers, Del Vecchio acquired Turin-based distributor Scarrone, Luxottica's first step toward vertical integration. The chairman then turned his focus to international expansion, establishing subsidiaries in such markets as Germany and the U.S.

Toward the end of the 1980s, Del Vecchio started capitalizing on fashion designers' emerging interest in accessories. Luxottica signed a licensing pact with Giorgio Armani in 1988. Similar deals with Bulgari, Chanel, Prada, Versace and Donna Karan followed shortly after. Del Vecchio listed the company in New York in 1990 and in Milan in 2000.

Luxottica's stable of businesses includes retail chains such as LensCrafters, Pearle Vision and Ilori in North America and Sunglass Hut worldwide, as well as such brands as Ray-Ban, Persol, Vogue Eyewear and Oakley, which he bought for $2.1 billion in 2007. Chief Executive Officer Andrea Guerra stepped down in September 2014, following disagreements with Del Vecchio on the future strategy and direction of the company. His successor, Enrico Cavatorta, left a month later, and Del Vecchio took over as interim CEO.

During the past decade, Del Vecchio has expanded his publicly traded assets to include investments in Fonciere des Regions, a French real estate fund, and the Italian bank UniCredit. He is the largest single shareholder in Europe's third-biggest insurer, Assicurazioni Generali, and led a successful effort to remove the company's CEO, Giovanni Perissinotto, in June 2012.

The billionaire lives in Milan with his wife, Nicoletta, with whom he has one child. He has five other children with two previous wives. None of his six children currently works at Luxottica. His eldest son, Claudio, led Luxottica's wholesale and optical retail expansion in North America until 2000. He left the company to acquire Brooks Brothers and has since been its chairman and CEO.

Milestones
  • 1935 Leonardo Del Vecchio is born in Milan, five months after father's death.
  • 1942 Widowed mother sends him to the Martinitt orphanage run by nuns.
  • 1949 Begins apprenticeship to a tool and dye manufacturer in Milan.
  • 1961 Founds his own workshop, Luxottica, in Agordo, northern Italy.
  • 1971 First Luxottica collection is shown at MIDO in Milan.
  • 1988 Strikes first high fashion eyewear licensing deal, with Giorgio Armani.
  • 1990 Luxottica Group is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • 1995 Acquires LensCrafters, a major US optical retail chain.
  • 2007 California-based Oakley acquired for $2.1 billion.
  • 2014 Becomes co-CEO after Enrico Cavatorta leaves after one month.