The total wealth of the world’s billionaires fell from a record low last year amid a plunge in global stock markets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although the world’s richest people still hold a total of $12.7bn (£9.7bn) in assets.
According to Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of the world’s richest people, the number of billionaires worldwide fell from 329 to 2,668, with the total value of their combined assets down slightly from $13.1 billion on the 2021 list. .
He said Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – and the ensuing avalanche of sanctions – sent the Russian stock market and the rouble plummeting, resulting in 34 fewer Russian billionaires on the list. Those in the country with billionaire status have almost all seen their fortunes stagnate or decline, with their total wealth falling by more than $260 billion from a year earlier.
Forbes said the drop in the total number of billionaires from 2,755 to 2,668 was the largest since the 2009 financial crisis, but followed a rise of more than 600 in 2021 when the global stock rebounded from pandemic lows.
Elon Musk, the maverick boss of Tesla and SpaceX, has been named the world’s richest man for the first time with a fortune of $219 billion, up $68 billion from the year previous year due to the automaker’s soaring stock price.
Musk overtook Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, whose fortune fell to $171 billion after a slight decline in the company’s stock price and donations to charity.
Bezos’ estimated $1.5 billion charitable giving pales in comparison to his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, who gave $12.5 billion to more than 1,250 organizations in less than two years. Scott, who received a $38 billion settlement in her divorce from Bezos in 2019, went from the 22nd richest person on the planet to the 30th with a fortune of $43.6 billion.
Among those dropping out of the chart are 169 “one-year-old wonders” – newcomers to the list in 2021 but who have already dropped. These include exercise bike company John Foley from Peloton and dating app Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd.
Some 236 people have joined the billionaires club for the first time, including the pop star Rihanna, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and venture capitalist Joshua Kushner. Barbados, Bulgaria, Estonia and Uruguay have won their first billionaires.
Millionaires for Humanity, a coalition of the wealthy calling for a global wealth tax on the super-rich to tackle inequality, said the Forbes list was “a slap in the face to society”.
Djaffar Shalchi, a Danish multi-millionaire businessman and founder of the initiative, said: “Forbes’ rich list is a stark reminder of the obscenely unequal world we live in. While most people around the world have struggled to adapt and survive the pandemic, with many losing their jobs, thrust deeper into poverty, those on Forbes’ rich list have been able to s sit and watch their wealth soar.
“It’s an affront to humanity, an insult to the claim that we’re all in this together, and a slap in the face to those of us who believe we share this planet and its resources equally.
“The time for a wealth tax for people like me is long overdue. Inequality is bad for everyone. Even in the United States, we are considering the possibility of President Biden introducing a tax on billionaires. This would be an important step in the right direction. »