Hélène Mercier is a world-renowned concert pianist originally from Canada who has been married to French billionaire businessman Bernard Arnault since 1991. The couple has three children together.
Arnault is the chairman and CEO of LVMH. The company saw its value increase substantially in November 2019 after announcing that it was purchasing the jewelry company Tiffany & Co. for more than $16 billion. The acquisition also caused Arnault’s personal net worth to rise to nearly $108 billion. According to Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List, Arnault is close to overtaking Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person.
Here’s what you need to know about Hélène Mercier, Bernard Arnault’s wife.
1. Hélène Mercier Was Born In Montreal But Traveled to the United States & France to Study Piano
Hélène Mercier was born in 1960 in Montreal, Canada. She demonstrated great skill on the piano from a young age. According to AllMusic.com, Mercier began studying at the Vincent d’Indy School of Music when she was just six years old. It is a private music college in Montreal, Quebec that is named for the French composer Paul Marie Théodore Vincent d’Indy.
As a child, she won first-place awards at the Quebec and Canadian Music Competitions and the Prague International Chamber Music Competition, according to Chandos Records. Mercier also studied at the Vienna Academy of Music, at Julliard in New York City, and at the Paris Conservatoire.
2. Mercier Performed at the Library of Congress in 2018
Hélène Mercier was featured in a special performance at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on April 11, 2018. She and fellow pianist Louis Lortie, as explained by the organization, played “the two-piano music of Arensky, Rachmaninoff and Medtner, alongside a four-hand work by Ravel.” The concert was put on to celebrate the Library’s acquisition of the “holograph manuscript of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances for two pianos.”
Mercier has performed all over the world. According to Chandos Records, a label that specializes in classical music, Mercier’s resume includes performing with the Orchestre de Paris, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, the New Japan Philharmonic, and with symphony orchestras in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
3. Mercier & Arnault Bonded Over a Shared Love Of Music After Meeting at a Dinner Party; Arnault Performed a Piano Piece For Her
Hélène Mercier is a professional pianist and she put her future husband’s own music skills to the test shortly after they met. Bernard Arnault and Mercier were first introduced in the fall of 1989 at a dinner party.
They celebrated New Year’s Eve together that year. According to a 2009 feature in the Wall Street Journal, Mercier asked Arnault to play her something after they went to his house for tea. Mercier recalled that Arnault’s “hands were trembling, he was dying of fear, but he was determined to get to the end.”
They tied the knot in France eight months after that New Year’s date. The ceremony included only five people, with Arnault wearing white jeans and Mercier donning a “white Lacroix suit.”
4. Mercier Taught Her Three Sons to Play the Piano But None Pursued a Musical Career
Hélène Mercier and Bernard Arnault have three sons together. Their oldest, Alexandre, is the president and chief executive of the luggage company Rimowa. The company has been part of the LVMH luxury group since 2016, when Alexandre convinced the former CEO to sell an 80 percent stake in the business to Bernard Arnault’s company.
Their second son, Frédéric Arnault, joined the family business in 2018. He became the strategy and digital director for the watch brand TAG Heuer. Third son Jean Arnault is about 20 years old and is not yet part of the company.
Mercier may have preferred for her three children to have pursued careers in music rather than business. In a 2018 New York Times feature, Alexandre shared that he and his younger brothers are all musicians like their mother. “She always told us if we wanted to become musicians she would support us. I’ll never know if my dad would have been happy with it. But he loves the piano.”
The Arnault boys also have two older half-siblings. Arnault had his two oldest children, Antoine and Delphine, with his first wife Anne Dewavrin.
5. Mercier & Arnault Pledged Millions of Dollars to Rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral & to Fight Wildfires In the Amazon
Hélène Mercier and Bernard Arnault made headlines for their large charitable contributions in 2019. The family pledged $222 million to help restore the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following the devastating fire that sparked on April 15, 2019.
In August of 2019, they then pledged another $11 million to help fight wildfires burning in the Amazon. The contribution was part of an initiative sponsored by the G7.