Last Updated: December 4, 2023
Richest BusinessRichest Billionaires
Net Worth:
$45 Billion
1949 (75 years old)
💰 Compare Alain Wertheimer's Net Worth
Table of ContentsExpand
  1. Early Life
  2. Career
  3. Personal Life

What is Alain Wertheimer's Net Worth?

Alain Wertheimer is a French businessman who has a net worth of $45 billion. Alain Wertheimer and his brother Gerard own the controlling interest in the House of Chanel. The brothers are also invested in Bell & Ross. Their grandfather Pierre co-founded the House of Chanel with Coco Chanel. Alain Wertheimer has presided over the acquisitions of brands including Eres Lingerie and beachwear, Holland & Holland gun maker, and Tanner Krolle sandals and leather goods. The brothers own many French vineyards and are equestrians who operate a Thoroughbred horse racing stable called La Presle Farm.

The family's path to fortune began in the late 1800s when Ernest Wertheimer emigrated from Alsace to Paris and purchased the theatrical makeup company Bourjois, which developed the first dry rouge. Ernest's sons Pierre and Paul took over the family business in 1917. By 1920, the company was the largest and most successful cosmetic and fragrance company in France.

Pierre met Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel at some point in the early 1920s. The two became business partners and in 1924, Pierre entered into an agreement with Coco to create Parfums Chanel. Coco Chanel believed the time was right to take her fragrance Chanel No. 5 to a wider customer base. Previously it had only been available in her boutique. Chanel was aware of Pierre's expertise in retail, his familiarity with the American market, and his financial resources. For a 70% stake in the company, Wertheimer provided the financing for the production, marketing, and distribution of Chanel No. 5. For 10% of the stock, Chanel licensed her name to "Parfums Chanel" and removed herself from involvement in all business operations.

As the decades passed, Chanel was ultimately unhappy with the deal she'd made with Wertheimer and tried to regain control of Parfums Chanel. She sued the Wertheimers in 1935, but lost her case. Then, World War II brought the Nazis to Paris and all Jewish-owned property and business enterprises were seized. Chanel saw the opportunity to get the fortune her fragrance generated back in her control. She contacted the German officials and told them that the Jewish Wertheimers owned her perfume and it was her legal right as an Aryan to take it from them. What Coco did not know, is that the Wertheimers anticipated the Nazi mandates against Jews and had fled to New York in 1940. However, before they did, they had turned over full legal control of Parfums Chanel over to a French business man and Christian, Felix Amiot. At the end of the world, Amiot turned Parfums Chanel back over to the Wertheimers. When Coco Chanel died in 1971, the family bought out her stake in the company.

Gerard is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Alain lives in New York and has been credited with resurrecting the Chanel brand when he took over control of the company from his father in 1974.

Alain and Gerard, tapped one of the fashion industry's most famous creative directors, Karl Lagerfeld, to run the most famous brand in the world in 1983. Together, they have privately held Chanel for more than 30 years. Despite this, they are two of the least famous fashion house owners. When they attend runway shows, they travel there in a modest French made hatchback and slip into the third or fourth row unnoticed.

Like many of the wealthiest families, the Wertheimers maintain a low profile and stay out of the public eye. Little is known about them personally. What is known is that each owns half of Chanel. They rarely attend Chanel events and never use their names in advertising. As for why they stay so out of the public eye, in a 2002 interview, Gerard said:

 "It's about Coco Chanel. It's about Karl. It's about everyone who works and creates at Chanel. It's not about the Wertheimers."


Early Life

Alain Wertheimer was born on September 28, 1948 in Paris, France. He was born to parents Jacques Wertheimer and Eliane Fischer, both Jewish. He grew up with his brother, Gerard. His parents divorced in 1952 when Wertheimer was almost 4. His mother passed away when he was 6 years old, leaving his father to be the primary caregiver. His grandfather, Pierre, co-founded Chanel with Coco Chanel. In 1925, his grandfather and his great uncle, Paul, struck a deal with Coco Chanel to begin selling perfumes and other beauty products, as Coco had already created her signature Chanel No. 5 perfume and saw partnering with the brothers as a way of better marketing her product. Pierre took full control of the company in 1954. He then passed control of the company to his son Jacques in the 1960s, as he was more interested in horse breeding and racing.

Wertheimer attended the prestigious Ecole des Roches in Normandy and then went on to study at the University of Paris. In 1973, Wertheimer convinced the Chanel board of trustees to let him take over the company.


After over a decade of directing the company, in 1996, Wertheimer and his brother, Gerard, became co-owners of the House of Chanel. Wertheimer became the chairman of the company as well and Gerard primarily focused on overseeing Chanel's watch division based in Geneva. Prior to that time, the brothers had already appointed Karl Lagerfeld as the artistic director of Chanel, responsible for all of the fashion designs. The appointment of Lagerfeld was critical to the future success of the brand, as Chanel was poised to experience a financial collapse had Lagerfeld not successfully revitalized the fashion house. Wertheimer and his brother generally do not comment on the success of Chanel, nor do they openly participate in Chanel's public events. While they may attend fashion shows, they do so discreetly by sitting a few rows back and they rarely, if ever, attend the opening of Chanel boutiques.

In addition to running Chanel, Wertheimer and his brother are also very involved in horse racing, picking up the interest from their father. From their father, they inherited the horse racing and breeding business, Wertheimer et Frère. Wertheimer's brother, Gerard, is primarily the one who manages the business's horse stock. The brothers own four ranches around the world in Chantilly and Normandy, France, California, and Kentucky. Horses owned by the brothers have won the Breeders' Cup four times. In 2015, a Wertheimer horse won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Race.

Along with his brother, Wertheimer also owns vineyards in France and Napa Valley, California. They own the Chateau Rauzan-Segla winery in Bordeaux, France. They also bought the St. Supery winery in California. Both vineyards have been reviewed very favorably by wine critics. Additionally, they own the Chateau Canon estate in Saint Emilion, France. They renovated the property in 2015, turning it into a six bedroom resort-like chateau in the middle of the Bordeaux region. However, it is not a hotel as guests must be invited to stay. The family spends much of their summers at Chateau Canon.

The brothers are also involved in a number of other business endeavors. They own a 1% stake in Ulta, the large beauty store chain that has stores around the United States selling makeup, skincare, haircare, perfume, and other beauty products and services. The brothers also have acquired a number of other non-Chanel brands. They manage Eres Lingerie and beachwear. Additionally, they own Tanner Krolle, a saddle and leather goods manufacturer. Another of their acquisitions, Holland & Holland, is a British gunmaker.

Alain Wertheimer


Personal Life

Wertheimer is married to Brigitte Laloum. They have three children – Sarah, Nathanial, and Raphael. He and his wife primarily live in New York City, though they are often in France as well. Additionally, he owns a country house in Connecticut. Reportedly, along with his brother, the family owns eight homes around the world. In general, he keeps a very low public profile and prefers to be discreet. Both him and his brother have been described as "fashion's quietest billionaires" by "The New York Times." In his free time, he enjoys skiing and shooting sports and hunting. Additionally, he owns a large art collection, which includes works by Picasso and Matisse. The breadth of the collection is not fully known as the family does not allow the collection to be loaned or photographed.

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