Meet François-Henri Pinault, Salma Hayek's Husband

Renowned actor Salma Hayek is so well-known for her good looks and charm that fans may forget she's a married woman. François-Henri Pinault is a billionaire businessman from France who runs a family-built empire. The money mogul married the beautiful Mexican-American actor on Valentine's Day in 2009 and the couple has one child together. The union raised eyebrows, with some going so far as to say that Hayek married Pinault for his fortune. Since then, the Oscar winner has publicly defended her marriage and her husband. 

That said, there's no denying that Hayek's real-life leading man is very, very wealthy. Because not everyone may be aware of Pinault's background, here's a look at how he made his fortune, and how his romance with Hayek came to be.

François-Henri Pinault is famous for his fashion empire

François-Henri Pinault is the CEO of luxury fashion group Kering, which he inherited as a family business. The company began as Pinault SA in 1963 and was started by his father, who was also named François. Pinault SA later became Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, before being shortened to PPR and eventually becoming Kering. During the 1990s, the company — which originally specialized in wood and building materials — shifted toward luxury fashion. Today, it is home to major fashion brands including Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Balenciaga, and Saint Laurent. 

In 2003, the elder François handed over the company to his son François-Henri Pinault. By 2005, Pinault assumed the reins as chairman and CEO of the company. As the leader of the business, he is an incredibly busy man and a hard worker — both of which are qualities that his wife Salma Hayek respects. "My guy, finished work, no matter how hard it was — and trust me he has a lot of responsibilities — big smile on his face, happy to be home, happy to see me and the kids, make us laugh ... They cannot begin to imagine what a joy that human being is," she told Dax Shepard on the "Armchair Expert" podcast.

The way François-Henri Pinault met Salma Hayek is a secret

Rumor has it that François-Henri Pinault first crossed paths with Salma Hayek back in 2006 when the pair were set up by friends. That being said, the couple has refrained from confirming that story to the press. When pressed on the matter in a 2019 interview with Town & Country, Hayek teasingly responded that she would never tell the public how she met Pinault. "It's such a romantic, amazing story, but it is mine. I don't want to vulgarize it by making it into a story to make myself interesting," the actor said.

Of course, just because Pinault and Hayek have remained tight-lipped on some details of their relationship does not mean they won't let some info slip here and there. In the same interview, Hayek confirmed that she met Pinault when she was 39. And, apparently being "a late bloomer," as she called it, worked out for her in the end. The way Hayek sees things, meeting Pinault later in life allowed her to understand herself before committing to a long-term relationship. Now, she describes the billionaire as "the best husband in the world." What does she love about him? "I get to be who I am with him, and I don't feel that somebody tries to limit me."

It took him a while to win over Salma Hayek

Although François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek have remained relatively secretive about the early days of their relationship, a few key details have come out about the couple. Chief among these is the fact that Hayek was not interested in Pinault — at least not at the beginning. Speaking to the Associated Press about this dynamic, the actor divulged, "No, at the beginning, I didn't think [we were a good match], but he won me over really fast. At the beginning, I was stereotyping him, as it's not my kind of guy at all."

As the two started talking, though, Hayek found herself changing her mind. "I remember when I started saying, 'Oh my god, there's something here.' And, it's so silly. We started talking about football. We are both crazy about soccer. And, then we started talking about science. We love the space. And, physics. And, he was so smart and charming and funny." Ultimately, Hayek said that Pinault's amazing conversation skills were what won her over. "Nobody talked to me about those things, like the first time I've, like, met someone. It's not normally the typical conversations. And, then, it was, you know, [I] realized this person that looks so far away from me was my perfect match."

François-Henri Pinault is a father of four

François-Henri Pinault is a proud father of four. He shares two children with ex-wife Dorothée Lepère, whom he was married to from 1996 until 2004. Following their split, Pinault dated supermodel Linda Evangelista. Though the relationship only lasted for a few months, rumors flew in 2011 after it was revealed that Pinault had fathered Evangelista's son, Augustin James Evangelista. The timeline of the conception was well after the two split and was believed to be during his relationship with his current wife, Salma Hayek.

Pinault and Hayek — who tied the knot in 2009 — also share a daughter, Valentina Paloma Pinault, who was born in 2007. But for Hayek, the duo's blended family is one of her great joys in life. "I had a child late in life ... I always wanted to have a lot of children, and I was not able to. My body, as a miracle, had one," she told Red in 2017. "The huge blessing I've had is that my husband has three other children. So I have four. And they are all so different." 

François-Henri Pinault is something of a family man

In many ways, François-Henri Pinault is a busy man. He runs a fashion empire, owns Rennes Football Club, and does quite a bit of philanthropy. However, despite the weight of all these combined responsibilities, Pinault tries to do his best to prioritize his family. According to his wife, Salma Hayek, the billionaire does everything in his power to be 100% present when he is at home. 

Addressing this matter on the podcast, "Armchair Expert," Hayek explained that her husband is able to separate himself from his work when he's at home with loved ones. Interestingly, Hayek says that Pinault displays the same attitude when they are traveling together as a family. "We go on vacation, he completely shuts off, he's in the moment."

He has faced rumors about his relationship

François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek seem to have a healthy marriage, but that doesn't mean the couple is without their challenges. Due to Hayek's high-profile position as a major movie star, the tabloids have been prone to spread rumors about her — and her relationship. Once, while the actor was a guest on the "Armchair Expert" podcast, co-host, Dax Shepard, told her, "I'm gonna be honest, I didn't know who [Pinault] was, I just heard or maybe read in a headline that you had married a really rich guy. Maybe that's why she married him."

Hayek, however, was not afraid to clap back. "When I married him, everybody said, 'Oh, it's [an] arranged marriage, she married him for the money.' I'm like, 'Yeah, whatever, b**ch. Think what you want.' Fifteen years together, and we are strong in love." The Academy Award winner went on to say that these sorts of salacious rumors no longer bother her. "And I don't even get offended, I'm like, 'Yeah, whatever.'"

Of course, after being confronted with this negative gossip, it did seem like Hayek wanted to step in and defend Pinault. "You know the thing is that in pictures you cannot begin to guess the magic in him. He's made me become a much better person, and grow in such a good, healthy way," she said.

François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek renewed their vows

François-Henri Pinault married Salma Hayek on February 14, 2009 in a Parisian courthouse. In April 2009, the couple had a wedding in Venice with family and friends, including fellow A-listers Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz. Their ceremony took place at the Palazzo Grassi, which — beyond being owned by the Pinault family since 2005 — held a special meaning for the couple as the site of their first meeting place in 2006.

But just in case the double wedding wasn't enough of a show of affection, Pinault surprised Hayek with a vow renewal in Bora Bora. In 2018, the CEO told his wife they were going on a spa day, and instead surprised her with the big romantic gesture. "The summer is coming to an end and my best moment was when my husband surprised me with a vow renewal," Hayek shared on Instagram. "It was not what I would have chosen to wear to my wedding but I was told I was going to the spa!"

François-Henri Pinault feels that giving back is important

Philanthropist François-Henri Pinault believes in giving back so much, that in 2008, he established the Kering Foundation. The organization supports victims of domestic violence by working with partners to create prevention programs and survivor-centered services. Pinault and the Kering family also pledged $120 million to support Notre Dame reconstruction efforts, after the landmark cathedral was damaged in a fire in 2019. "Faced with this tragedy, my father and I have decided to contribute to the funds needed to fully rebuild Notre Dame de Paris in order to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible," Pinault said at the time, via The CEO Magazine

However, the publicly announced donation galvanized business rivals like luxury goods group LVMH to follow suit. In response, both the senior Pinault and his son insisted that they'd chosen to announce their financial contribution to motivate others who were able to help on a large scale to step up. "It is certainly vulgar to make a gesture and then promote it, but the idea was to generate others," the senior Pinault told AP News. Of the Kering donation, Paris Archbishop Michael Aupetit added, "It came spontaneously during that evening, when we didn't yet know whether the cathedral could be saved. It launched a movement that is still ongoing, because we still have 140 donations a week." 

François-Henri Pinault identifies as a feminist

François-Henri Pinault's political and philosophical perspectives might not be well-known. However, over the years, Salma Hayek has not hesitated to emphasize the fact that her husband is a feminist. As the actor revealed in an interview with the Associated Press, "He's very masculine, but, in his head, he's a feminist. So, he really roots for women." In Hayek's view, this is one of the most attractive things about her husband. "That is hot. Guys don't think that it is hot, but it really is. Because there is nothing sexier than feeling supported and that the person that you are with wants you to thrive, wants you to be better every day and grow and grow with you."

One of the times that Pinault demonstrated this support occurred in 2017 when Hayek submitted an Opinions Editorial to the New York Times, titled "Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too." In the piece, Hayek accused the disgraced film producer of sexually harassing her on the set of "Frida." At one point, the actor claimed that Weinstein threatened to kill her for her refusal to meet his alleged sexual demands.

Although writing this piece proved very difficult for Hayek — the actor would later tell Town & Country, "It really haunted me" — she knew that she could count on Pinault for support. In the same interview, Hayek described her husband as caring, adding, "He was upset that I didn't tell him before."

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