Volatile stock markets, cratering oil prices and a stronger dollar led to a dynamic reshuffling of wealth around the globe and a drop in ten-figure fortunes for the first time since 2009. For our 30th annual guide to the world’s richest, we found 1,810 billionaires, down from a record 1,826 a year ago. Their aggregate net worth was $6.48 trillion, $570 billion less than last year. It was also the first time since 2010 that the average net worth of a billionaire dropped – it is now $3.6 billion, $300 million less than last year.
Behind these figures is a story of huge upheaval, as 221 people fell off the list, while 198 newcomers joined the ranks; another 29 people from 2015 died while 29 who’d previously fallen off climbed back on. Of those who were billionaires both years, 892 are poorer while 501 added to their fortunes.
The reshuffling starts at the top. Only 2 people in the top 20 managed to hold onto their ranks. Bill Gates remains the richest person in the world with a net worth of $75 billion, despite being $4.2 billion poorer than a year ago. He has been No. 1 one for 3 years in a row and topped the list 17 out of 22 years. (In the 30 years FORBES has tracked global wealth, only 5 people have held the title of richest person on planet; 3 of those 5 still rank among the 4 richest in the world including Warren Buffett and Carlos Slim.) Also holding steady is Buffett at No. 3. Zara’s Amancio Ortega moves up to No. 2 for the first time, displacing Mexico’s Carlos Slim, who slips to No. 4. Slim’s fortune fell $27.1 billion to $50 billion in the past year, as shares of his telecom business América Móvil tumbled.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had the best year of all billionaires. The 31-year-old added $11.2 billion to his fortune and moved up to No. 6 from 16. He and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos both make their first appearance in the top ten of FORBES’ annual ranking of the world’s wealthiest. Another first: A billionaire from China’s mainland, Wang Jianlin, whose company owns AMC Theaters and soon will own Legendary Pictures, has climbed into the top 20.
Among the most notable newcomers are Cameron Mackintosh, the first theater producer to make the billionaire ranks; WeWork’s Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey and Pinterest’s Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp. Neumann, Silbermann and Sharp are 3 of a record 66 billionaires under the age of 40. The youngest billionaire in the world is a 19-year-old Norwegain heiress, Alexandra Andresen, who has a 42% stake in her family’s business. Her sister Katharina is second youngest, just 20.
Another new entrant worth mentioning is Zhou Qunfei, whose $5.9 billion fortune from smartphone screens is enough to make her the richest self-made woman in the world. She is one of 190 women in the list, down from 197 last year. Among the notable drop-offs are fashion designer Tory Burch, Sam Adams chief Jim Koch and Dick’s Sporting Goods head Edward Stack.
The U.S. has 540 billionaires, more than any other country in the world. It’s followed by mainland China with 251 (Hong Kong has another 69) and Germany with 120. Russia has 77, ten-figure fortunes, 11 fewer than last year, while Brazil is down 23 to 31.
- Source: Forbes Photo: Oprah.com and Newsroom.fb.co