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Gerard Wertheimer

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Gerard Wertheimer and his brother, Alain, control Chanel, the Parisian fragrance and fashion house that makes Chanel No. 5 perfume. The closely held luxury goods group, which was founded by fashion designer Coco Chanel in 1910, had revenue of $17.2 billion in 2022. Other assets include three vineyards and racehorses in France.

The majority of Wertheimer’s fortune is derived from Chanel, the fashion and fragrance company he controls with his brother, Alain. Gerard and Alain are assumed to each own half of Chanel in this analysis.

Chanel had net revenue of $17.2 billion in 2022, according to financials released by the company in June 2023. It’s valued using the average enterprise value-to-sales and enterprise value-to-Ebitda multiples of five publicly traded peer companies: L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Prada, LVMH and Kering. The valuation was updated on June 27, 2023 to reflect the latest results and this led to a rise of about $4 billion.

The brothers own almost a 1% stake in publicly traded US beauty store company Ulta Beauty and a 5.8% stake in haircare business Olaplex through their family office Mousse Partners and affiliated investment firms. They also own a French and US racehorse business, which is valued based on a calculation by a thoroughbred horse consultant who asked not be identified because the company is closely held.

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A spokesman for Chanel declined to comment on the Wertheimer family’s fortune.


Gerard Paul Phillipe Wertheimer was born to racehorse owner Jacques Wertheimer and Eliane Fischer in Paris on Nov. 9, 1951. His parents divorced in New York two years later. His grandfather was Pierre Wertheimer, a French industrialist who, with his brother Paul, founded Les Parfums Chanel, which began making and distributing fashion designer Coco Chanel’s No. 5 fragrance in 1924.

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The Jewish family fled Paris in 1940 as German troops advanced on the city, returning after the war, according to “The Secret of Chanel No. 5,” a history of the fragrance by Tilar Mazzeo. In their absence Coco Chanel attempted to take control of the business from the Wertheimers in 1941. She wrote to the German occupiers, arguing that Les Parfums Chanel was Jewish property and so should be redistributed, namely to her. She was foiled by the Wertheimers, who before leaving Paris had passed their stake to industrialist Felix Amiot, who’d agreed to hold it for them during the occupation to prevent it being seized, according to Mazzeo.

The family took full control of Chanel’s fragrance and fashion operations in 1954, in exchange for paying all of Coco Chanel’s bills and taxes for the rest of her life, and funding the expansion of the haute couture division. When Pierre died nine years later, ownership passed to Gerard’s father Jacques.

Gerard’s older brother Alain, took operational control of the label in 1974, three years after the death of Coco Chanel, and began to revive the brand and re-establish it at the top-end of the perfume and luxury market, according to Anastasia Kourovskaia, a vice president at consultancy Millward Brown Optimor EMEA. Ready-to-wear clothing was added in 1978 and, five years later, German designer Karl Lagerfeld was recruited as artistic director. Alain, based in New York, is chairman of Chanel and Geneva-based Gerard heads the company’s watch division.

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The brothers rarely appear publicly and never comment on Chanel. “We’re a very discreet family, we never talk,” the New York Times quoted Gerard as saying in 2002. He lives in Switzerland with wife Valerie, with whom he has two children.


  • 1924 The Wertheimer family establishes a perfume company with Coco Chanel.
  • 1941 Coco Chanel fails to wrest control of Chanel from the Wertheimer family.
  • 1948 Older brother Alain Ernest Wertheimer is born.
  • 1951 Gerard Paul Phillipe Wertheimer is born.
  • 1954 Wertheimer’s grandfather Pierre takes full control of Chanel.
  • 1971 Coco Chanel dies in her hotel room at the Ritz in Paris.
  • 1978 Chanel introduces its first ready-to-wear clothing collection.
  • 1983 Karl Lagerfeld is appointed artistic director of Chanel’s fashion division.
  • 1994 The brothers buy Bordeaux winery Chateau Rauzan-Segla.
  • 1996 With brother Alain, Wertheimer takes ownership of Chanel on father’s death.

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