François Pinault was born on August 21, 1936, in Champs-Géraux in Brittany. He established his first wood business in Rennes in 1963. Subsequently, he widened the scope of his activities to include wood importing and, eventually, manufacturing, sales, and retailing. In 1988, the Pinault group went public on the French stock market. In 1990, François Pinault decided to refocus the group’s activities on specialized sales and retailing and to withdraw from the wood business. From then on the group began to acquire other companies: first the CFAO (Compagnie Francaise de l’Afrique Occidentale), a leader in sales and distribution in sub-Saharan Africa; then Conforama, a leader in the household goods field, La Redoute, leader in the French mail-order business. Renamed PPR, the group expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of FNAC.
In 1999, PPR became the third largest firm in the luxury-goods sector worldwide, after acquiring the Gucci Group (Gucci, Yves Saint-Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga).In 2007, the Group seized a new opportunity for growth when it acquired Puma, a leading brand in sports/lifestyle goods. Thus, PPR continued to develop its activities in key markets, through its major and most famous brands.
At the same time, François Pinault has pursued a plan of investment in companies with strong growth potential in sectors outside the specialized retailing and luxury goods fields covered by PPR. In 1992, he created Artemis, a private company entirely owned by the Pinault family. Artemis controls the Château-Latour vineyard in Bordeaux, the news magazine “Le Point” and the daily newspaper “L’Agefi”. François Pinault also controls the auction house Christie’s, a world leader in the art market, as well as being a shareholder in Bouygues Group and Vinci. François Pinault is also the owner of a French premiere league football team, Stade Rennais Football Club, and of the Théâtre Marigny in Paris. In 2003, François Pinault entrusted his group to his son François-Henri Pinault.
A great lover of art, and one of the leading collectors of contemporary art in the world, François Pinault has decided to share his passion with the greatest number of people possible. In May 2005, he acquired the prestigious Palazzo Grassi in Venice, where he then presented a part of his collection during three exhibitions: "Where Are We Going?" (2006), "Post-Pop" (2007), and "Sequence 1" (2007). François Pinault was named the most influential person in the world of contemporary art for two years running (2006 and 2007) by the magazine “Art Review”. He was nominated President of the Comité Français in October 2008 and appointed International Adviser to the candidate selection committee for the Praemium Imperiale.
In June 2007, François Pinault was selected by the City of Venice to undertake the transformation of Punta della Dogana into a new center for contemporary art, where a selection of works from the Pinault Collection are exhibited. Renovated by Tadao Ando, Punta della Dogana opened in June 2009 with the exhibition "Mapping the Studio" (2009-2011) followed by "In Praise of Doubt" (2011-2013) which was conceived to coincide with the exhibition "The World Belongs to You" (2011), presented simultaneously at Palazzo Grassi, followed by "Madame Fisscher" (2012), a personal exhibition of Urs Fischer’s work, "Voice of Images" (2012-2013), "Rudolf Stingel" (2013-2014), a personal exhibition of the artist, and at Punta della Dogana by "Prima Materia" (2013-2014).
Solicited by many municipalities, public and private institutions, François Pinault also presents part of his collection outside of Venice, for instance, with the exhibition "Passage du Temps" (2007) at the Tri postal in Lille, "Un certain État du Monde" (2009) at the Melnikov Garage in Moscow, "Qui a peur des artistes?" (2009) at Dinard, "Agony and Ecstasy" (2011) at the SongEun Foundation in Seoul, "L’art à l’épreuve du monde" (2013) in Dunkirk, and "À triple tour" (2013) in Paris.