Jay-Z Sells Half of Ace of Spades Champagne to LVMH


When Jay-Z clicked into a video call last week with Philippe Schaus, the chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s drinks business, the Zoom backgrounds told the story.

Jay-Z spoke from a partly covered terrace of his Los Angeles home, wearing a casual sweater, accessorized by the outdoor living room and greenery around him. Mr. Schaus was in his office in Paris, wearing a suit, accessorized by shelves of elaborate drinks bottles behind him.

The topic: the news that LVMH would acquire half of Armand de Brignac, Jay-Z’s bubbly brand. (Most people call it Ace of Spades, after its bottle’s branding.)

The deal gives Jay-Z the organizational support and distribution power of a global drinks “machine,” as Mr. Schaus called it, while LVMH gets the cool clout and lifestyle marketing savvy of a pace-setting Black cultural leader at a time when the luxury sector’s racism is under particular scrutiny.

“We have to catch up somehow,” said Mr. Schaus on the Zoom call. “So this relationship will inject us with some better understanding of the market of tomorrow.”

LVMH first attempted to access “the market of tomorrow” in 2019 when it teamed up with Rihanna to create the Fenty high fashion line — which was also, as it happened, when it first met Jay-Z. (Rihanna is represented by the management arm of Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment and sports company.) Though operations of Rihanna’s line were suspended less than two weeks ago, the Champagne partnership signals a strengthening of larger ties to the greater Jay-Z universe.

The Ace of Spades deal was initially discussed in the summer of 2019, when Jay-Z hosted a lunch at his house for Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s founder and chairman, and Alexandre Arnault.

The younger Mr. Arnault is the third of Bernard Arnault’s five children. He is, at 28, an increasingly visible force at LVMH. He became chief executive of Rimowa, the LVMH-owned German luggage brand, in 2017 at only 24; was the family member who accompanied his father when President Trump cut the ribbon on a new Louis Vuitton factory in Texas; and was recently named executive vice president of product and communications at Tiffany, which LVMH acquired in a $15.8 billion deal last year.

He and Jay-Z are good friends who speak on the phone once a month or more. “I’ll send him a photo of something going on with me or he’ll send me a photo,” Jay-Z said. “It’s super natural, super chill. I view him as a person of high integrity. Always keeps his word, very punctual. These are some of the qualities I have myself.”


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