Date of Birth: Les Champs-Géreaux, France, 1936
Place of Residence: Bretagne
Net Worth: USD $29.7 billion
Source of Wealth: self-made, industry: diversified
Education: high school drop out
Political Position: Center Authoritarian Right
In His Own Words:
François Pinault has very extensive relations with a number of top French politicians. His two closest political friends are former French president Jaques Chirac, who held office from 1995 through 2007, and the current French president François Hollande.
Chirac and Pinault’s relationship goes beyond politics. The families vacation together, borrow each other’s private planes and have regular lunches. Their relationship began politically in 1976, through their mutual interest in saving a sawmill in Correze, saving jobs, thus promoting Chirac, (Europe 1). Although there is not substantial evidence that Pinault directly campaigned for Chirac or donated to his campaign, his close relationship with the former president does the work itself. For example, during the 1995 election, where did Chirac go to find comfort, relaxation and collect his thoughts? In Pinault’s country home outside of Paris. This close relationship must come into question when regarding Pinault’s involvement in the political sphere, as there clear influence with a friendship as close as this one.
Furthermore, this relationship seems to influence over other candidates who Pinault and Chirac would later promote, such as Hollande. Pinault was very outspoken in this campaign against Hollande’s opponent Nicholas Sarkozy. During the 2012 election he said to the press about Sarkozy, “Il perd la pédales. Il est cuit. C’est comme dans le bunker de 1945,” or “He is loosing the pedals. He is cooked. It’s like in the bunker in 1945,” (Le Monde).
In this current election of 2017, he financially supported former candidate Alain Jupée, who was Prime Minister under Chirac, (Breizh-Info).
Lobbying & Advocacy:
Pinault’s close retaliations with top politicians give him great power. He was one of the only individuals who met with Hollande regularly without any other member of Hollande’s cabinet present, (Liberation). His close relationship with Chirac and high destiny of political contacts clearly give Pinault strong political influence.
Pinault owns the center-right regarded magazine, Le Point. Although there is little evidence that Pinault has influence over the magazine, it seems to typically align with his political views, (Liberation).
Pinault is active in philanthropy, most famously for his involvement in contemporary art. He spent 34 million in renovations of the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, to create a contemporary art museum for his private collection, (Palazzo Grassi). In addition, he spent 20 million euros in the renovations of Putna Della Dogana, his other contemporary art museum in Venice, (Putna Della Donana).
Currently, he is in the works of building a new contemporary art museum in the center of Paris at Les Halles in the old Paris Bourse building. The expected cost of this project is 100 million euros, (Le Monde).
This philanthropic involvement, however, seems to have little to no political agenda.