The Top billionaires and who are the richest people in the world. During the pandemic, 31 new people have joined the billionaires’ club.
The Top billionaires: who are the richest people in the world?
There is a silver lining to the Covid crisis for the world’s wealthiest people, whose fortunes have swollen throughout the pandemic.
Many of the world’s billionaires have “doubled down on risk in choppy financial markets and profited from the tech boom”, the Financial Times says, leaving them with a record collective wealth of $10.2tn (£7.91tn), topping the previous high set in 2017.
Swiss bank UBS has compiled data and also found that 31 new people have joined the billionaires’ club, with the total number of billionaires worldwide rising to 2,189, up from 2,158 in 2017.
All is not totally rosy for the world’s super rich, though.
“The report comes at a time when growing economic inequality in the US, the UK and some other leading economies, has put the role of the rich – and, especially, of high-profile billionaires – in the spotlight,” the FT adds, with critics attacking “regulatory regimes” that allow market dominance and “low tax rates imposed on capital in… the US and the UK”.
So amid the new billionaire haul, who is the richest of them all?
World’s richest people
1. Jeff Bezos, $190bn
The former hedge fund manager turned online book seller started Amazon in his garage in 1994. Bezos has invested heavily in space technology and also owns The Washington Post newspaper.
2. Bill Gates, $120bn
A permanent fixture at the top end of rich list for the past 20 years, the Microsoft founder has sold or given away much of his stake in the company – he owns just 1% of Microsoft – and now focuses predominantly on his philanthropic work.
3. Mark Zuckerberg, $100bn
Zuckerberg famously started Facebook in 2004 at the age of 19 and now is among the top five richest men in the world.
4. Bernard Arnault & family, $81.4bn
Arnault is the wealthiest European on the list. The Frenchman oversees an empire of more than 60 brands including Louis Vuitton and Sephora.
5. Mukesh Ambani, $80.3bn
Indian Ambani has a 42% controlling stake in Reliance Industries, which is the owner of the world’s largest oil refining complex. He is also the owner of property worth more than $400m.
6. Steve Ballmer, $77.7bn
The American was the former CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014. He is the current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise.
7. Warren Buffett, $77.5bn
Now in his ninth decade, the Berkshire Hathaway chief executive, known as the “Oracle of Omagh” is one of the most successful investors of all time. Like Gates he has pledged to give away more than 99% of his fortune to charity.
8. Larry Page, $71.6bn
Internet entrepreneur Page is one of the co-founders of Google. He stepped down as CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. in December 2019 but remains a board member.
9. Elon Musk, $70.2bn
Musk is the founder and CEO of SpaceX and also the CEO of Tesla.
10. Sergey Brin, $69.4bn
Along with Larry Page, Brin was a co-founder of Google. Until December 2019 he was president of Alphabet Inc.
What about the UK?
James Ratcliffe, the founder, chairman and majority owner of chemical powerhouse Ineos Group, is the richest person in the UK, according to Forbes.
Ratcliffe was raised in a Manchester council house, and has climbed the chemical corporate ladder to amass a personal worth of $13.9bn.
Shortly behind him in the UK are the billionaire Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja brothers, who control the Hinduja Group conglomerate, and are worth $12.4bn combined.
The Hinduja Group is a family business originally founded in Mumbai in 1914, and now “has interests around the world including in oil and gas, banking, IT and property”, the BBC added.
The richest woman in the UK is Denise Coates, the founder and joint chief executive of online gambling company Bet365. She is worth $7.7bn, making her the 220th richest person in the world.
Who is the richest person of all time?
Bezos has been declared not only the wealthiest person alive – but of all time.
But while his estimated fortune is technically the largest ever accrued by one individual, this does not take into account inflation or a number of other factors, including how wealth is actually measured.
With a fortune of around $400bn, Mansu Musa 1 of Mail, the first king of Timbuktu, may not be a household name, but by most estimates is the richest person who ever lived.
Deriving his wealth from his country’s vast salt and gold deposits, which at one time accounted for half the world’s supply, Musa ruled West Africa’s Malian Empire in the early 14th century, constructing hundreds of mosques across the continent, many of which survive to this day.
With a fortune estimated at between $300-$400bn in today’s money, Tsar Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov (Nicolas II) of Russia was deposed and subsequently executed by the Bolsheviks in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution.
The Independent notes that, following his canonisation by the Russian Orthodox Church, he is also the richest saint in history.
Excluding kings, princes and those who inherited their wealth, the list of the world’s richest-ever men – and they are always men – is dominated by the so-called robber barons of 19th and early 20th century America.
Often cited as the richest person who ever lived, oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller was the first person to have a net worth of over $1bn in the money of the time.
At the time of this death his estate was worth an estimated $340bn in today’s money, almost 2% of total US economic output.
With an estimated fortune of $310bn in today’s money, steel magnate and Rockefeller contemporary Andrew Carnegie sold his Carnegie Steel Company to JP Morgan for $480m in 1901, and later made his name with his philanthropic donations.
Automobile pioneer Henry Ford, who perfected the production line and has become a by-word for American entrepreneurship, had a fortune of around $199bn at the time of his death in 1947.