The Contour of Luxury Summer 2019 - Page 474

Meet the Wertheimers: The Multi-Billionaires Behind Chanel What comes to mind when one hears the name “Chanel”?Is it Karl Lagerfeld? Perhaps it is the fragrance Chanel No. 5. Chances are it is not the two French brothers who co-own the luxury brand. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer have been the co-owners of Chanel for over thirty years, and they are known as fashion’s quietest billionaires. They have a combined net worth of $42 billion, placing them amongst the top ten richest men in France. Though they remain mum about their family, wealth, hobbies, and businesses, the secretive brothers own three vineyards in France, one vineyard in Napa Valley, and breed and race thoroughbreds while managing the Chanel brand. So, how did the brothers come to own Chanel and amass their wealth? Teleporting back in time to 1924, Frenchman Pierre Wertheimer secured a deal with Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel to assist her in producing and selling Chanel beauty products. By funding the Chanel brand, Wertheimer eventually owned over 50 percent of the company. In 1941, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel sought to seize control over the company, wrenching it away from Pierre Wertheimer’s grasp, by trying to enforce the law stating that a Jew could not own a company, but her efforts were to no avail. A little over a decade later Wertheimer gained full control of Chanel.