François Pinault was born on August 21, 1936, in Les Champs-Géraux, France. He started his career by selling products door-to-door and eventually built his own timber business that went on to become the world’s second-largest timber firm. He entered the retail industry in the mid-1980s and bought controlling stakes in Samsonite, Gucci, and many other luxury fashion brands and retail chains. He also owns Christie’s auction house and the French newspaper Le Point.
His family is also heavily involved in his business empire. His son, François-Henri Pinault, is the CEO of Kering, the luxury fashion company that owns brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. His daughter, Laurence, is the president of the family’s philanthropic organization, the Artemis Foundation. His wife, Maryvonne, is also involved in the family’s businesses, particularly in the art world.
The Pinault family is known for their extensive art collection, which includes works by artists like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and Cy Twombly. François Pinault founded the Palazzo Grassi museum in Venice, Italy, and the Fondation Pinault in Paris to display parts of his collection. In 2019, it was announced that the family would be opening a new contemporary art museum, the Bourse de Commerce, in Paris.
The family is also known for their philanthropy, particularly in the areas of arts and culture. In addition to the Artemis Foundation, they have donated millions to organizations like the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence and the Château de Versailles in France. They have also supported environmental causes, with François Pinault founding the Kering Foundation in 2008 to combat violence against women and promote sustainability. In 2020, the family pledged 100 million euros to help rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.