Alain and Gerard Wertheimer each have $11.8 billion fortunes and are the sixth and seventh-richest people in France, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Almost all of their fortunes stem from their stake in Chanel, which reported 2014 revenue of $7.5 billion and net income of $1.4 billion. Chanel International BV files the closely held company's global financial results with Kamer van Koophandel, the Dutch chamber of commerce.
Net profit for the five publicly traded companies the index uses to value Chanel — Prada, Kering, LVMH, L'Oreal and Estee Lauder — was down a collective 6 percent in their 2014 fiscal years.
"Chanel is having extraordinary success in China and with the Chinese, hence their recent phenomenal growth," said Luca Solca, head of luxury goods research at Exane BNP Paribas in London.
The Wertheimers' fortunes have risen 13 percent since January 2014, ranking then among the world's 100 richest people. Eight other luxury goods billionaires from the Bloomberg index — Liliane Bettencourt, Bernard Arnault, Francois Pinault, Leonard Lauder, Giorgio Armani, Cheng Yu-Tung, Ralph Lauren and Johann Rupert — have fallen a combined 11 percent over the same period, as luxury demand in China slowed following a clampdown on graft. Miuccia Prada, chairman of Prada SpA fell off the Bloomberg index after her fortune declined 26 percent this year to $3.6 billion, making her the world's 437th-richest person.
By Devon Pendleton; editors: Robert Lafranco, Andrew Heathcote, Dashiell Bennett.