Salma Hayek's Husband Is One Of The Richest People On The Planet

In August 2018, Salma Hayek's husband, François-Henri Pinault, gave her the surprise of a lifetime while they were vacationing in Bora Bora. "The summer is coming to an end and my best moment was when my husband surprised me with a vow renewal," the actress shared on Instagram. Of her red summer dress, Hayek explained, "It was not what I would have chosen to wear to my wedding but I was told I was going to the spa!" The couple originally married on Valentine's Day 2009 in Paris, France. Around a year and a half earlier, the couple welcomed their first and only child together, Valentina. 

You may not be all that familiar with Hayek's husband considering he's not in the entertainment business, but you shouldn't assume he's a regular Joe. Oh, no. Headlines often refer to Pinault as a "French billionaire." That is, a multi-billionaire. As it happens, Hayek's hubby is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. Here's what else you should know about this über rich fella. 

He didn't always want to work for his dad

François-Henri Pinault is the son of Francois Pinault who, according to Forbes, founded a wood and building materials company back in 1963. The business has never left the family, but it has changed dramatically since first opening its doors. In addition to the company's name changing from Pinault Group to Kering, the business now owns and runs luxury fashion labels instead of construction materials. That change in direction has been worthwhile — to say the least.

As of early 2019, Forbes estimates the Pinault family's net worth to be in the 11-figure range. Much of the company's success can be accredited to the junior Pinault, who took over the company in the early aughts — but he almost didn't take the job.

Pinault moved to California after graduating from the prestigious French business school HEC, a profile of the billionaire revealed. He loved being in the U.S. so much that he contemplated attending Stanford to continue studying business. Nevertheless, Pinault wasn't able to secure a green card and thus moved back home.

He started out as a salesman in Africa

When Pinault left California and headed back to France to work for his father's business, he wasn't given a cushy office job. Instead, his dad expected his son to prove he was worthy of one day taking over the family business. According to Fortune, that meant a long 13-year apprenticeship. Although Pinault runs the show these days, he started out as a salesman. Much of his time apprenticing was not spent in France, but rather Africa, where he sold construction supplies and pharmaceutical equipment.

During his time in sales, Pinault grew increasingly interested in the tech side of business. In the late '90s, he developed a website to sell books and electronics called FNAC. His side business would actually go on to be more profitable than Amazon in France and, as of this writing, is still a force to be reckoned with.

Becoming the boss

By 2003, Pinault's father had decided it was time to hand over the reigns to his son. Over dinner at a restaurant in Paris, the 66-year-old father broke the news that he'd decided to step down. With that, Pinault would now be the one in charge. Although he had been working for the company for over a decade at this point, it still came as a surprise to him.

When speaking with The New York Times, Pinault recalled showing up for work the following Monday, shocked to see that all of his things had been moved out of his office. The staff explained that, since he was now the boss, he had a new office. Unbeknownst to him, his father had switched offices with his son. "It was funny and dramatic and surreal. I knew it was coming, but I never expected it to happen so fast," he explained.

Meeting Salma Hayek

Just a few short years into taking over the family business, Pinault would go on to meet actress Salma Hayek thanks to former Gucci executive Mimma Viglezio, who played matchmaker. Though, Hayek was originally confused about who it was she would be seeing. "She said, 'What do you mean? I'm not going out with some 70-year-old guy," Viglezio revealed to The New York Times. "She thought she was supposed to go out with his father."

Even after they met, Hayek had some reservations about Pinault. In an interview shared by NTD, Hayek revealed that she didn't think he was her type. But once they started talking, they realized they had a lot in common. They discussed their love of soccer and science. She gushed, "And he was so smart and charming and funny and nobody talked to me about those things." Aww. Hayek now asserts Pinault to be her "perfect match."

This is why Hayek went back to work

By the time Pinault and Hayek had their first child and got married, Pinault wasn't exactly hurting for cash. He'd already made some big changes to the family company and was enjoying the fruits of his labor in the form of billions of dollars in revenue. Hayek, too, was working as an actress — a job that obviously isn't known to pay poorly.

After having their daughter, Hayek considered not going back to work. Naturally, the family of three could afford to go down to one income considering how rich her partner is. But when she told her husband that she didn't want to return to work, he wasn't a fan. "Oh, no, you're going back to work," Hayek revealed Pinault's response to Allure. When she protested, Pinault told her, "Well, you have to. We're not putting up with some lazy girl in the house. That's not who I married." Pinault also told his wife that he didn't want himself nor others to be deprived of her work and encouraged her to get back out there.

Hayek takes care of her own expenses

Hayek did indeed go back to work after giving birth to her daughter and hasn't stopped working since. And although she briefly considered being a stay-at-home mom, she has always had the desire to maintain her financial independence as best she can. "I have a system in my life that I've chosen, where my expenses from before the marriage are my expenses," the actress told Allure.

In fact, this system was already in place when Pinault proposed. It was then that she informed him of her plan to stay financially independent. "And he goes, 'I know. That's why I want to marry you,'" she explained to the publication. Hayek speculated that this may be one of the reasons their marriage is working so well. "I still have my independence. But he likes it. ...And I get a lot of respect from him."

He dominates the fashion world

Even if you had never heard of Pinault, you certainly know the brands he owns. In 1999, the Pinault family bought a large stake in Gucci. Fast forward two decades, and Pinault not only still owns Gucci, but also major labels like Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, and Alexander McQueen — just to name a few. Pinault even owns Puma.

The acquisition of Puma may sound strange next to all of the luxury brands, but it's not really all that odd considering the company started out in lumber. "Nostalgia kills happiness," Pinault's father told Fortune. "It can be a big danger to get too attached to a firm's activities." Not surprisingly, his son agrees. "It's not the philosophy of the group to be unchanging," Pinault revealed. "We're there to accelerate the development of a sector, to give a strategy, to put people in place, and then to grow it over 10 to 15 years." Considering Pinault made headlines in 2017 for making $1.7 billion in just one day, we'd say his plan is working just fine.

He's making luxury sustainable

In 2012, Pinault made it his goal to make his 16 brands more sustainable. By 2016, he made some major strides and paved the way for other luxury fashion brands. While other companies may hesitate to turn to environmentally-friendly materials due to the cost — and yes, it does cost more, according to Pinault — the proof is really in the pudding. Kering's stock doubled in just the four years since turning to more sustainable practices.

Just one way in which Pinault has been pursuing sustainable practices is through his research of alternative leathers. "We also are working very significantly on new technology coming from biotech — trying to create leather from living animal cells," he told Bloomberg. "They get the animal cells from the skin of a living animal, and then they grow them." One of Pinault's brands, Stella McCartney — in conjunction with Bolt Threads — has even introduced leather made from mushrooms. Pinault's not kidding about making luxury fashion sustainable.

His wealth is only expected to increase

In 2013, François-Henri Pinault told The New York Times that he set a target of hitting €24 billion (about $27.3 billion) of revenue by 2020. At the time, this figure sounded like a very lofty goal. "That's double where the group is today — triple if you don't count the retail business that he intends to sell or spin off next year," the publication revealed at the time.

The future seems to be a motivator for Pinault. He revealed, "I am obsessed with the idea that I was handed something, but I'm going to try to bring my own stone to the building." He admitted that just the thought of passing down the family business in a floundering condition "fills [him] with horror." Thankfully for Pinault, he doesn't have to worry about that just yet. As of January 2019, the Pinault family's net worth is estimated at $27.2 billion. With a year to go to hit his seemingly farfetched goal, he's nearly there.