Luxury behemoth LVMH, where Arnault is chairman, CEO and controlling shareholder, acquired the Hotel Soltykoff at 10 rue Volney, located in the 2nd arrondissement between the Opera and Place Vendôme, the world’s most important high-end jewelry shopping district.
According to sources, LVMH paid €30,000 per square metre for the 1,800-square-metre mid-19th century building, valuing it at €55 million.
Rumor has it that LVMH sees it as a smart asset play for Louis Vuitton, which is planning to open a haute joaillerie atelier in the building, that will include private salons to greet hyper well-heeled clients.
The building had long been known as Elephant Paname and was used intermittently as an exhibition and event space. It earned its name from Alexandre Soltykoff, the Russian ambassador to France who commissioned its construction in 1856. Designed by Charles Rohault de Fleury, the structure is a hybrid blend of French and Venetian architecture.
A spokesman for LVMH told FashionNetwork.com, that the group “does not comment on this rumor.”
However, according to CFNEWS Immo, the well-informed French property website, the rue Volney deal was struck in December. It comes on the heels of two mega acquisitions by LVMH of considerably large properties at 101 and 140 Champs Elysées, both over ten times as large.
Rue Volney is also the latest indication about Arnault’s obsession with high jewelry. Though LVMH has acquired Tiffany and also owns Bulgari, neither of them have quite the cachet of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, two jewelry giants that are both owned by Richemont, a rival conglomerate controlled by the Rupert family of South Africa. Though the provincially born Arnault is famous for playing catch-up very quickly.
Just around the corner, the LVMH group also controls 3,100 square-metres at 7 rue de la Paix, located on the same side of the street as Cartier’s main Paris store, the most important jewelry boutique in Europe.
Reportedly Arnault acquired this real estate on rue de la Paix in a major €900 million transaction from the Dray family. Among the properties acquired in that deal was a building at 12 place des Etats Unis, which was then sold to Maison Margiela as its new world headquarters.
Irony of ironies, this last building is now the location of the atelier and studio of Maison Margiela’s couturier John Galliano. The same man Arnault fired – without any severance – back in February 2011 after he was caught making antisemitic slurs on a video to a group of Italian women, whose exact identity remain obscure.
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