World's second-richest man sells his jet amid Twitter eco outrage

Bernard Arnault, the world’s second-richest man, sells his luxury jet after he was shamed by eco flight-tracker Twitter accounts (but will still rent private planes to travel)

  • Arnault is the CEO of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) luxury goods empire
  • He sold LVMH’s private jet after activists on Twitter released flight tracking info
  • Celebrities and business magnates argue private jets are a professional necessity and that releasing flight data publicly could pose security risks
  • But activists point out that a very small percentage of wealthy individuals are responsible for a disproportionately large quantity of carbon emissions 

The world’s second richest man has sold his luxury private jet to avoid being tracked by Twitter accounts dedicated to naming and shaming high-flying, climate-polluting billionaires. 

Bernard Arnault, the CEO of the Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) luxury goods empire, confirmed on French radio station Radio Classique on October 17 that he had sold the company’s private jet.

The move was motivated, Arnault said, by a series of Twitter accounts which sprang up in recent months – particularly ‘I Fly Bernard’ and ‘Bernard’s Airplane’ – that berated the billionaire over his private jet usage and highlighted his disproportionately high carbon footprint.

‘[LMVH] had a plane and we sold it,’ Arnault earlier this month told Radio Classique, which is owned by the luxury goods empire. 

‘The result now is that no one can see where I go because I rent planes when I use private planes.’

Arnault’s jet was no longer registered in France as of September 1.

The trend of private flight tracking has taken off in the past year, with climate activists following the movements of wealthy individuals – typically celebrities and CEOs of large corporations – to showcase the extent to which they are polluting the atmosphere.

MailOnline has contacted LVMH for comment.  

Bernard Arnault, Chief Executive Officer of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, is pictured at a meeting of the company’s shareholders in Paris, France

Arnault is ranked as the world’s second richest man behind Elon Musk (Arnault is pictured on the cover of Forbes magazine)

The sale of the private jet was motivated, Arnault said, by a series of Twitter accounts which sprang up in recent months – particularly ‘I Fly Bernard’ (pictured) and ‘Bernard’s Airplane’ – that berated the billionaire over his private jet usage

The Twitter account Bernard’s Plane (pictured) is just one of several French accounts dedicated to following the flight paths of France’s billionaires

Arnault’s vast wealth of $151.3 billion surpasses even that of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who sits in third place on the list of the world’s richest men with a meagre $139.8 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes’ Real Time Billionaires tracker.

The French luxury goods magnate is second only to Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who occupies the top spot on the list with $218.5 billion.

Arnault’s second son Antoine, who occupies a senior position in Louis Vuitton’s communications department and also sits on the board of LMVH, defended his father’s use of private jets to French media, arguing that private jet travel is a professional necessity for men of his stature.

‘This plane is a work tool.’ Antoine told France 5’s broadcast C à Vous.

‘Our industry is hyper-competitive,’ the Louis Vuitton communications director said, adding that a private plane is a key resource to help top executives beat the competition to the punch when it comes to securing a deal, purchasing an asset or scoping out a new product.

He also pointed out that having flight paths publicised by Twitter accounts can help competitors to undermine LMVH’s operations.

‘It’s not very good that our competitors can know where we are at any moment,’ Antione said in a recent interview, according to the South China Morning Post.

‘That can give ideas, it can also give leads, clues.’ 

Other wealthy businessmen have pointed out that publicly sharing their flight tracking data could pose significant security and safety risks. 

Elon Musk recently told Protocol: ‘I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,’ while Meta and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently switched aircraft after an account began sharing details of his private air travel, Insider reported.


Many wealthy businessmen including Elon Musk (L) and Mark Zuckerberg (R) have pointed out the security risks of having their private flight data shared publicly

Arnault’s vast wealth of $151.3 billion surpasses even that of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who sits in third place on the list of the world’s richest men with a meagre $139.8 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes’ Real Time Billionaires tracker (Arnault pictured Feb 2022)

Climate activists meanwhile have defended their policy of making private jet flight data public, arguing it is in the interests of the public to learn the extent to which a select few have an inordinate impact on the environment. 

I Fly Bernard, one of several Twitter accounts which publicise the flight info of French billionaires, began publishing posts when the French offices of Oxfam and Greenpeace released research suggesting that 63 French billionaires are responsible for more carbon emissions than 50 per cent of France’s 63 million-strong population. 

Flight tracking Twitter accounts have enjoyed particular success in France, after some politicians this summer began proposing bans or taxes on private jet travel.

Environment minister Christophe Bechu earlier this month said the government is now in favour of raising taxes for private jets next year by aligning the taxation of aviation fuels with that of fuels used by cars.  

Bechu made the revelation to radio station franceinfo after some lawmakers from President Emmanuel Macron’s bloc filed an amendment to the 2023 tax bill.

The notion of imposing tougher laws on private jet emissions in France was raised when when wildfires which scientists said were likely linked to climate change raged throughout the country amid serious heat waves this summer.

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