François Pinault

François Pinault (born 21 August 1936) is a French billionaire businessman, founder of the luxury group Kering and the investment company Artémis.

François Pinault
François Pinault Stade rennais - Le Havre AC 20150708 44.jpg
François Pinault in 2015
Born (1936-08-21) 21 August 1936 (age 85)
Known forFounder of Kering and Groupe Artémis
Louise Gautier
(m. 1962; div. 1967)

Maryvonne Campbell
(m. 1970)
Children3, including François-Henri Pinault

Pinault started his business in the timber industry in the early 1960s. Taken public in 1988, the company invested in specialized retail business and changed its name to PPR. By the end of 1999, PPR shifted towards luxury and fashion. In 2003, he passed on the management of his companies to his elder son François-Henri to follow his passion for contemporary art.

Pinault is a major contemporary art collector.


Early lifeEdit

François Pinault was born on 21 August 1936 in Les Champs-Géraux, a commune in the north of Brittany in the west of France. His father was a timber trader.[2]

Pinault grew up in the rural French countryside, beginning his career working for his family's timber business. He dropped out of school at the age of 16 from the College Saint-Martin in Rennes where the upper-class children teased him because of his rural accent and his peasant family.[3] In 1956, he enlisted in the military during the Algerian war.[4] Afterwards, he returned to the family business, which he sold following his father's death.[5]

In 1962, he married Louise Gautier. They had three children: François-Henri, Dominique, and Laurence Pinault. The couple divorced five years later, and in 1970, Pinault married Maryvonne Campbell, an antique trader in Rennes who introduced him to the world of art. His first art purchases date back to this period.[3]

Business empireEdit

With the help of family and a bank loan from the Crédit Lyonnais, Pinault started his first business in 1963 as a wood-trading company. The business grew strongly. His group bought several companies facing bankruptcy, in particular Chapelle Darblay, and relaunched them.[4][6]

On 25 October 1988, Pinault SA was taken public in the Paris stock exchange. Pinault started to change the direction of its investments to retail companies. He bought a majority stake in CFAO (specialized distribution in Africa), Conforama (furnishing retailer), Printemps (department store), La Redoute (mail order), and Fnac (books and electronics retailer). His company was renamed Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) in 1993.[7]

By the end of century, Pinault started to shift his group towards the luxury industry. In March 1999, Pinault-Printemps-Redoute purchased a controlling 42% stake of the Gucci Group for $3 billion,[8] and bought the Yves Saint Laurent company.[9] Pinault then purchased the French jewelry company Boucheron in 2000, Balenciaga in 2001, and the British fashion house Alexander McQueen.[8]

In May 2003, Pinault handed over the management of his companies to his son François-Henri.[7] François-Henri Pinault became Chairman of PPR, and continued consolidating the luxury business with new brand acquisitions (Brioni, Girard-Perregaux, Pomellato...).[3] In 2013, PPR changed its name to Kering.[10] In 2018, the group's sales reached 13.66 billion euros, up 26.3% over the previous year.[11]

Groupe ArtémisEdit

In 1992, Pinault set up the holding company Artémis to manage the Pinault family's investments. Controlled 100% by Pinault and his family, Artémis controls through its subsidiary Artémis Domaine the French vineyard Château Latour (Bordeaux),[12] the Clos de Tart (Bourgogne), the Domaine d'Eugénie (Vosne-Romanée), Château Grillet (Rhône Valley), Eisele Vineyard (Napa Valley). Among other investments, Artémis bought the news magazine Le Point in 1997, the auction house Christie's in 1998,[13] and the luxury cruise company Ponant in 2015.[14]

Pinault is also the owner of the Rennes football club since 1998.[15]

Contemporary art collectionEdit

Pinault bought his first significant painting, Cour de ferme by Paul Sérusier, in 1980.[3] He collected art of the 20th century (Mondrian, Picasso, Man Ray, ...) before following contemporary art and artists (David Hammons, Rudolf Stingel, Damien Hirst, Koons, Subodh Gupta, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Donald Judd, Robert Ryman, ...).[16] In 2019, the collection counts around 5,000 works.[17]


In the early 2000s, Pinault had planned to develop a major contemporary art museum on the Île Seguin (Boulogne-Billancourt, suburbs of Paris) to house his collection. He assigned the Japanese architect Tadao Ando to design the building. After endless administrative delays, he cancelled the project in 2005.[18][3]

The same year, he bought Palazzo Grassi SpA which operates the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. Tadao Ando renovated the historical building. The Palazzo Grassi housed the first exhibition of Pinault Collection in 2006.[5] One year later, the Venice city council awarded the tender of the Punta della Dogana, which had been abandoned for 30 years, to Pinault Collection, adding 5,000 m2 to the Palazzo Grassi spaces in Venice.[19] Tadao Ando restored the historical site, which reopened to the public in June 2009.[20] In 2013, Pinault achieved the third chapter of his cultural project in Venice with the renovation and transformation of the Teatrino, an open-air theatre in ruins. Conceived by Tadao Ando, the new Teatrino holds a 225-seat auditorium.[21]

In 2016, Pinault and the city of Paris announced their plan to turn the Bourse de commerce in the center of Paris (first arrondissement) into a new, Pinault Collection-branded, contemporary art museum.[22] The architect Tadao Ando was put in charge of transforming the historic building. The opening was announced for the spring of 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new opening date was announced for May 2021.[23]

Off-site exhibitionsEdit

In addition to the exhibitions organized in its own museums, Pinault Collection organizes off-site exhibitions in France and around the globe, especially with institutional partners. The Pinault Collection has been shown in:

Art initiativesEdit

In 2015, in memory of his friend the writer (and Picasso biographer) Pierre Daix who died in 2014, Pinault created the Pierre Daix Prize to reward an outstanding book on modern and contemporary art every year.[27]

In 2014, Pinault launched through the Pinault Collection an artist residency program in Lens (Northern France). A former rectory was acquired and renovated by the NeM architecture agency. The artist residence opened in 2015. The American artists Melissa Dubbin and Aaron Davidson were the first artists selected for this program. The Belgian artist Edith Dekundt was in residency for 2016/2017, followed by the Brazilian artist Luca Arrada (2017/2018) and Hicham Berrada (2018/2019). The artists are selected by Pinault Collection in collaboration with Louvre-Lens, FRAC Nord Pas de Calais, and Le Fresnoy art school.[28][29]

Other commitmentsEdit

In 1990, following a fire in the Paimpont forest in Brittany, Pinault immediately financed the reforestation project. In 2000, he provided a significant financial assistance to help the islands in Brittany affected by the oil spill following the sinking of the Erika.[30]

In 2018, Pinault made a significant contribution to the restoration of Victor Hugo's house, the Hauteville House, in Guernsey.[31]

After the Notre Dame de Paris fire of 15 April 2019, the Pinault family pledged 100 million euros as a donation to the reconstruction works and repairs of the cathedral.[32]


As of 31 January 2021, according to Forbes, Pinault had a net worth estimated at $43.4 billion.[33]

As of 17 April 2021, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Pinault's wealth is estimated at $49.5 billion, making him one of the richest men in the world. [1]


Further readingEdit

  • Bothorel, Jean (2003). François Pinault : une enfance bretonne. Paris: Robert Laffont. ISBN 9782221097472. OCLC 56405699.
  • Dal Co, Francesco (2009). Tadao Ando for François Pinault: From Ile Seguin to Punta Della Dogana. Mondadori Electa. ISBN 8837069456.
  • Anfam, David (2006). Where Are We Going?: Selections from the Francois Pinault Collection. Skira. ISBN 8876247564.


  1. ^ a b "Bloomberg Billionaires Index: Francois Pinault". Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  2. ^ From timber merchant to corporate axeman,, 3 April 1990
  3. ^ a b c d e Lunch with the FT: François Pinault,, 8 April 2011
  4. ^ a b Colin Randall, The stylish approach to empire building,, 13 October 2015
  5. ^ a b Vicky Ward, François Pinault's ultimate luxury,, 26 November 2007
  6. ^ Thomas Kamm, Pinault's Empire Grows, Adding Stake in Christie's,, 7 May 1998
  7. ^ a b Kering – Evolution of a Global Luxury Brand Company,, November 2017
  8. ^ a b Kering: A Timeline Behind the Building of a Conglomerate,, 2 April 2018
  9. ^ John Tagliabue, Gucci Purchases Control Of Yves Saint Laurent,, 16 November 1999
  10. ^ David Jolly, PPR Will Change Name to Kering to Show Breton Roots,, 23 March 2013
  11. ^ Kering: An Outstanding 2018 Performance,, 12 February 2019
  12. ^ Rupert Millar, France's top 10 richest drinks barons,, 30 August 2017
  13. ^ Paul Tharp, Iron-fisted Frenchman Pinault is fighting Arnault to rule the auction-house world,, 27 February 2000
  14. ^ Andrew Roberts, French Billionaire Pinault Family to Buy Ponant Cruise Ships,, 27 July 2015
  15. ^ Ben Lyttleton, Rennes come out on top in battle of the bank balances,, 15 January 2008
  16. ^ Susan Adams, The Artful Billionaire,, 8 December 2006
  17. ^ (in French) Margo Vansynghel, Un regard sur la collection d'une des figures les plus influentes du monde de l'art,, 21 March 2019
  18. ^ Amelia Gentleman, Saatchi of the Seine,, 11 October 2004
  19. ^ Marcus Fairs, Tadao Ando designs arts centre for François Pinault in Venice,, 24 September 2007
  20. ^ Gregory Volk, Pinault's Value-Based Initiative,, 18 September 2009
  21. ^ Amy Frearson, The Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi by Tadao Ando,, 14 October 2013
  22. ^ Guy Martin, The Power of Art: François Pinault's $1.2 Billion-Collection Finds a Home in Paris,, 29 April 2016
  23. ^ Angelina Rascouet, See Pinault’s $194 Million Bourse De Commerce, Paris’s New Arts Landmark,, 17 May 2021
  24. ^ Collection Francois Pinault in Moscow,, 20 March 2009
  25. ^ François Pinault Collection enchants Asia Seoul,, 5 September 2011
  26. ^ Collection Pinault contemporary art exhibition in Rennes,
  27. ^ Robin Scher, Inaugural Winners of Pierre Daix Art Book Prize Announced,, 24 November 2015
  28. ^ Louvre goes Lens – and Pinault follows,
  29. ^ Artists in pinault-sponsored art residency,, 15 October 2014
  30. ^ Pinault to help fund Brittany cleanup,, 11 January 2000
  31. ^ Gareth Harris, Billionaire François Pinault gives €3m for refurbishment of Victor Hugo's Guernsey home,, 6 April 2018
  32. ^ Alex Greenberger, Collector François Pinault, Son Pledge $113 M. Toward Rebuilding Notre-Dame Cathedral,, 15 April 2019
  33. ^ "Francois Pinault & family". Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  34. ^ Esther Addley, French tycoon heads art power list,, 14 October 2006
  35. ^ Don-Alvin Adegeest, François Pinault receives France's highest honour,, 18 April 2007
  36. ^ Joelle Diderich, Italy Honors François Pinault for Luxury and Art Achievements,, 4 November 2016
  37. ^ Jennifer Weil, François Pinault Granted Dignity of the Great Cross in Legion of Honor,, 18 April 2017

External linksEdit