Arnault, Leviev, Hayek among world’s richest people

For a business built on luxury goods, surprisingly few of the leaders of the fine watch, gem and jewelry industry made onto the 2006 list of the world’s richest people, as estimated and published annually by Forbes magazine.

(Listings include rank, name, home country, age, wealth in billions of dollars, and source of the money. Some billionaires on the magazine’s list share the same rank because Forbes reported their wealth as being identical with each other.)

According to the business magazine, the industry’s wealthiest denizens are (with ranking in parentheses, followed by home country, age, wealth in billions of dollars):

* 7. Businessman Bernard Arnault, France, 57, $21.5 billion, chairman and chief exeutive officer of the lucxury goods group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), of which he owns 51%, and  Christian Dior, which partially owns LVMH.

* 158. Fashion designer Giorgio Armani, Italy, 71, $4.1 billion.

* 278. Diamond tycoon Lev Leviev, Israel, 50, $2.6 billion, one of the world’s largest diamond producers and chairman of the Lev Leviev group, the biggest retail diamond group in the world.

* 292. Nicolas Hayek, Switzerland, 77, $2.5 billion, co-founder and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker. since 1986.Its watch brands include Breguet, Glasshutte, Jacquet Droz, Leon Hatot, Omega, Rado, Longines, Union, cK, Tissot, Swatch, Certina, Mido, Hamilton, Pierre Balmain, Endura, and Flik Flak.

* 292. Jean-Louis Dumas and family, France, 67, $2.5 billion, France. Dumas is the fifth generation chairman of French luxury jewelry, watch and accessories retailer Hermes.

Others who made the list and have some connection to the jewelry and gem industries, include the following:

134. Jeronimo Arango, Mexico, 80, $4.6, retail

245. Anil Agarwal, India, 52, $2.8, mining, metals

200. Otto Beisheim, Germany, 82, $3.4, retail

278. Hugo Mann and family, Germany, 92, $2.6, retail

278. Ann Walton Kroenke, Missouri, 56, $2.6, Wal-Mart

350. Nancy Walton Laurie, Missouri, 54, $2.2, Wal-Mart

562. Myung-Hee Lee, South Korea, 62, $1.4, retail.