Pierre Godé, Top Adviser to France’s Richest Man, Dies at 73

Pierre Godé, Top Adviser to France’s Richest Man, Dies at 73

2018-02-02 17:32:49

Mr. Godé officially joined Mr. Arnault’s company in 1985, having assisted in a 1984 bid for Boussac, a bankrupt textile company that counted the Christian Dior fashion house among its assets.

A loyal second-in-command and adviser trusted like no other — LVMH has become infamous for the fast-moving revolving doors at its many fashion houses — Mr. Godé later led the charge in some of the group’s most high-risk business dealings. Among them were a two-year battle for control of LVMH with the Racamier family in the 1980s, which it won, and an attempted takeover of Gucci in 1999, a rare defeat.

He had the official title of LVMH vice chairman, but his reach stretched much further. As LVMH entered the digital age, Mr. Godé masterminded an aggressively protectionist strategy, suing the search giant Google and the online marketplace eBay for not doing enough to stop the sale of counterfeit goods. As part of that effort, he assembled an arsenal of diplomacy and lawsuits in a bid to enforce the same guidelines in the virtual world as in the real one.

“We have invested so much money to enhance and protect our brands and our brand experience that it is impossible to accept a scenario where someone else who has no understanding of this or interest in it would sell our brands and destroy that value,” Mr. Godé said in an interview in 2010.

In 2013, following LVMH’s stealthy effort to build up a stake in the family-owned leather goods house Hermès — actions that turned into a bitter public battle — Mr. Godé became deputy chairman of LVMH’s Italian operations and stepped down as chief executive of Mr. Arnault’s investment companies, Groupe Arnault and Financière Agache.

He retired from day-to-day duties at LVMH at the end of 2015, but he remained on the boards of LVMH, Dior and the global communications company Havas. He was also a member of the French Competition Authority and an officer of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor.

He is survived by his wife and three children.

“Alongside my father, Jean Arnault, and then alongside me, Pierre Godé was instrumental in the creation and growth of the LVMH Group,” Mr. Arnault said in a statement.

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