François Pinault is tied to some of the biggest names in fashion. As the owner of French luxury group Kering , he and his family manage over a dozen high-end brands, including Gucci, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. Pinault was born in 1936 in Brittany, France. As a seven-year-old during the Nazi occupation, Pinault used to bring food to Allied soldiers hidden near his family’s home, according to The Guardian. Legend has it that German forces once beat Pinault and his father to try to get them to talk, but even as a child, he wouldn’t give up their location. Here’s a look into how Pinault ended up as one of the world’s biggest fashion kings ... François Pinault attended school at College Saint-Martin in Rennes, France His classmates bullied him over his poor background and so he dropped out at 16 to start his first job at his father’s timber business, per Financial Post. In the early 1960s, Pinault borrowed US$107,000 (100,000 francs) from his family and the bank to launch his first company, Les Établissements François Pinault, a timber trading firm, according to The Guardian. By the early 70s, he started building an empire by buying up smaller timber firms. He acquired French department store Printemps Beginning in the 1990s, Pinault looked beyond the timber business. He acquired French department store Printemps – a controversial deal that put Pinault on the map – then added a vineyard to his portfolio with the acquisition of Chateau Latour, a winery in Bordeaux. ‘The whole package’: meet Single’s Inferno’s fan favourite, Nadine Lee In 1994, the company changed its name to Pinault Printemps Redoute, or PPR, after acquiring La Redoute, a French mail-order retailer. By the end of the decade, he’d set his sights on luxury In the mid-1990s, Pinault made a few unsuccessful bids to get into the financial services market. But by the end of the decade, he’d set his sights on luxury, first acquiring the auction house Christie’s for US$1.2 billion, then snapping up a 42 per cent stake in fashion house Gucci. But the acquisition of Gucci sparked a nearly two-and-a-half-year battle with fellow billionaire Bernard Arnault , CEO of rival luxury conglomerate LVMH, which also owned a stake in the company. At the time, The New York Times labelled the legal war “one of the most bitter fights in corporate history”. LVMH eventually sold its stake in Gucci to PPR for US$2 billion. Further growing Pinault’s luxury cache Meanwhile, Gucci acquired luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent, further growing Pinault’s luxury cache. The acquisitions of jewellery company Boucheron and fashion houses Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga followed soon after, along with a partnership with the label Alexander McQueen. Remembering 21 beloved celebrities who died in 2022 One of Pinault’s three children was being groomed to take over the business Meanwhile, one of Pinault’s three children, François-Henri Pinault, was being groomed to take over the business. By 2005, the younger Pinault was named PPR’s CEO. Under his son’s direction, the company continued to acquire brands, with a special interest in luxury fashion houses. In 2013, the company was renamed Kering, a name it still bears today. In 2018, Kering spun off the athletic brand Puma, thus completing the final transformation to a luxury group. Pinault’s son is an active member of the fashion community François-Henri Pinault regularly attends fashion shows and walks red carpets with his wife, actress Salma Hayek . The two married in 2009 and share a daughter. Pinault and his son and daughter-in-law are sometimes spotted at football games. Through his investment firm, Groupe Artemis, Pinault owns Stade Rennais football club, based in his hometown in Brittany. The elder Pinault stepped down and shifted his focus to his main passion: art When the elder Pinault stepped down from the helm of PPR, he shifted his focus to his main passion: art. On top of his ownership of Christie’s, Pinault is regarded as one of the biggest private art collectors in the world. Who is Keith Richards’ model and radio show host daughter Theodora? Pinault’s 2,000-piece art collection includes work by Piet Mondrian, Joan Miró, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg. Through the Pinault Foundation, Pinault owns two art galleries in Venice Through the Pinault Foundation, Pinault owns two art galleries in Venice: the Palazzo Grassi … … and the Punta della Dogana, opened in 2009. In 2016, following the terrorist attacks in Paris, Pinault announced plans to build a museum at the historic Bourse du Commerce in Paris. The gallery, which houses more than 3,000 works of contemporary art, opened in 2021. Pinault is close friends with former French president Jacques Chirac Along with his circle of high-profile artists, Pinault is close friends with former French president Jacques Chirac. The Guardian once reported that Pinault was one of the few people to have the former president’s personal phone number. Pinault has been married to his wife, Maryvonne Pinault, since 1970 Besides François-Henri, the couple has two other children. In 2018, the couple entered the luxury cruise and yacht business, buying the cruise line Ponant on Maryvonne’s suggestion, Bloomberg reported. Who is Keith Richards’ model and radio show host daughter Theodora? The Pinaults own multiple houses, including a mansion in London and in 2013, he paid US$16.5 million for a Bel Air home owned by the late celebrity hairstylist Vidal Sassoon. He was among France’s richest to pledge millions to repair the Notre-Dame Cathedral When the Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire in 2019, the younger Pinault announced that the family would donate then about US$109 million (100 million euros), to repair the iconic landmark. The Pinaults were among several of France’s richest people to pledge millions in funds for the repairs. Today, Pinault is the 31st richest person in the world, with a net worth of US$37 billion, per Bloomberg. This article originally appeared on Insider . Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .