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Lionel Laurent

French Billionaires Seize Pandemic Opportunities

Covid-19’s creative corporate destruction is triggering a dog-eat-dog contest for power and money in Paris.

A keen sense of opportunity.

A keen sense of opportunity.

Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Of all the world’s billionaires, with the exception of those from China, it is the French who have just enjoyed their most lucrative decade, according to a new UBS/PwC study.

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE boss Bernard Arnault and his ilk saw their wealth balloon more than fivefold to $443 billion between 2009 and mid-2020, fueled by Asian hunger for French-branded luxury goods and a global real-estate boom fanned by low interest rates. France is the land of what writer Pascal Bruckner calls “Bolshevism-lite,” where wealth is publicly hated but privately hoarded.