The power Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy weilds is almost like a statesman and a popular political leader. It was visible for all to see as Bernard hit the nation’s capital like a politician on the campaign trail. Last Thursday he visited the White House to call on President Obama and discussed globalization and employment with him. That same night he received the Corporate Citizenship award from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The array of Arnault admirers present demonstrated the kind of clout he weilds. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; J.C. Penney chief executive officer Myron E. “Mike” Ullman 3rd; Mark Weber, CEO of LVMH Inc. and chairman and CEO of Donna Karan International; Kevin Burke, president and CEO of American Apparel & Footwear Association, and Diane von Furstenberg and husband Barry Diller, as well as Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs and a slew of others from the extended LVMH family were present on the occasion.
The importance of Bernard Arnault can be gauged from the fact that Obama took time away from battling with Congress over the stalemate of the federal budget that has been consuming Washington. Arnault took the opportunity to highlight LVMH’s commitment to job creation in the U.S. and the importance of globalization. He gave the example of the new ateliers in California and the vineyards in Napa Valley that has been the initiative from LVMH to create jobs. The event held in the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown awarded Arnault for a broad array of social responsibility and philanthropic initiatives. Jacques Attali, founder and president of PlaNet Finance was also awarded for public service at the event.
Bernard Arnault, assumed control of LVMH in 1989 and immediately set about creating a multibillion dollar luxury empire with over 60 brands. The kind of momentum he has created for the conglomerate is unprecedented and his biggest contribution is that he has made the group a socially responsible player on the world stage. He said that the award was not to honor him individually but the commitment of over 80,000 people in the group whose ambition was to delight the world, to beautify our universe and to inspire the spirit of our times. The heavy weights present on the occasion praised him for his contribution in enlarging the concept of corporate responsibility and the group’s dedicated efforts, under his leadership, to improve the environment.