Both are billionaires, both are catnip to celebrities and politicians and both are arch-rivals, locked for two decades in an intractable high-fashion feud set to be reignited.
Yes, it’s luxury handbags at dawn for French haute couture kingpins Bernard Arnault and Francois-Henri Pinault.
The two corporate style giants look likely to go head to head again, as each pursues ownership of iconic American jewellery brand Tiffany’s, famed for its delicate turquoise boxes and immortalised by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s.
Habitually unsmiling Arnault — known as the ‘Pope of fashion’ and a ‘wolf in cashmere’, and friends with everyone from Donald Trump to Tony Blair — this week proposed an £11.3 billion take-over of Tiffany’s.
Both are billionaires, both are catnip to celebrities and politicians and both are arch-rivals, locked for two decades in an intractable high-fashion feud set to be reignited. Bernard Arnault is pictured left with Helene Arnault, while Francois-Henri Pinault is pictured right with actress Salma Hayek
It sounds a fortune, but Arnault’s bid has been described as ‘stingy’ — and, more significantly, leaves the door open for former playboy Pinault, 57, married to movie star Salma Hayek, to get one over on his old rival yet again.
The two fell out in 1999 when they were trying to buy Gucci and have been at loggerheads ever since, each opening museums in Paris so the masses can enjoy their rival art collections, and both making very public donations to the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral.
While they have much in common, Arnault, 70, is stealthy — he is married to a concert pianist and is a workaholic, spending every possible minute at his desk — while Pinault is decidedly showy, courting celebrities by the dozen and even fathering a love child with a supermodel.
So who are these twin titans of luxury — and who will prevail on this big money battleground? Alison Boshoff adds up the balance sheet . . .Celebrity magnetism . . .
Pinault is pictured above with Stella McCartney. He loves the celebrity world and is pals with woke but party-hard A-listers
Pinault: He loves the celebrity world and is pals with woke but party-hard A-listers such as actor Woody Harrelson, U2 singer Bono, designer Stella McCartney and actress Charlize Theron.
All of them attended his spectacular 2009 wedding to Salma Hayek in Venice.
Pinault spent £17 million on renovating one of the family’s museums, the Punta Della Dogana, for the occasion, although the main reception was in the opera house in Venice, also owned by the family. The weekend reputedly cost £2.6 million.
Other pals include actors Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Jennifer Aniston, Uma Thurman, Thandie Newton and Jared Leto, plus singers Drake and Madonna, and the Beckhams. He is also friends with oligarch Roman Abramovich.
Arnault: Adept at making friends in high places, Arnault was on close terms with the late French President Jacques Chirac.
His daughter, Delphine, is now ‘besties’ with First Lady Brigitte Macron, wife of Emmanuel, and Mme Macron has been kitted out in Louis Vuitton.
Last month, Arnault flew with President Trump in Air Force One to open a Louis Vuitton leatherware workshop in Texas. He was made an honorary knight by the Queen in 2012.
Arnault is pictured above meeting singer Rihanna. Adept at making friends in high places, Arnault was also on close terms with the late French President Jacques Chirac
Pinault: His main home is in Paris, base of the Kering business, and he has a vast apartment in the chic 6th arondissement.
He and wife Salma Hayek also have a £12 million mansion in Bel Air, California, with seven bedrooms and spectacular views of LA — bought from Frasier star Kelsey Grammer.
Monsieur and Madame, however, are not always to be found at the same address: Hayek moved to stylish Holland Park, West London, with their daughter Valentina four years ago.
(Before this, Pinault had a two-bedroomed £20 million house in Kensington.) He travels for ‘two weeks in four’ but Hayek insists they’re never separated for long.
He and wife Salma Hayek also have a £12 million mansion in Bel Air, California, with seven bedrooms and spectacular views of LA — bought from Frasier star Kelsey Grammer
Arnault: As well as a house in Paris, he has a mansion in