The planet’s 2,640 billionaires are worth $12.2 trillion. Here’s who’s up, who’s down and who’s off the list.
The party is over for many of the world’s richest people. For the second straight year, both the number of billionaires around the globe has declined–from 2,668 in 2022 to 2,640 this year–and total billionaire wealth has dropped, too–down by $500 billion, to $12.2 trillion–as turbulent times have hit both public and private markets.
Nearly half the planet’s billionaires are poorer than they were a year ago. A total of 254 people have lost their billionaire status altogether–most notably crypto wunderkind-turned-fraud defendant Sam Bankman Fried, his cofounder and possible courtroom opponent Gary Wang, musician Kanye West, plus scores of tech tycoons and at least 19 founders of billion-dollar “unicorn” companies, including Alex Atallah and Devin Finzer of NFT marketplace OpenSea, and Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi of credit card fintech Brex.
One person dropped out of the billionaires club by choice: Yvon Chouinard, who founded outdoor clothing and gear maker Patagonia in 1973–and donated it to a trust and a nonprofit fighting environmental crises in September 2022, thus removing himself from the wealth rankings he had long criticized.
Not that the roaring 2020s have come to an end for all of the ultra-rich. Big gainers over the past 12 months include Spanish retailer Amancio Ortega (+$17.7 billion), Chinese e-commerce kingpin Colin Zheng Huang (+$18.9 billion) and Indonesian coal baron Low Tuck Kwong (+$21.8 billion).
No one had a better year than Bernard Arnault, who is No. 1 on the World’s Billionaires list for the first time. Record sales and profits have driven shares of his luxury goods leviathan LVMH–which owns brands such Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Tiffany–to new heights. Arnault, who is worth an estimated $211 billion, added $53 billion to his fortune over the past year on the back of an 18% jump in LVMH stock, giving him a bigger gain than any other billionaire on the planet. This is the first time a French citizen has led the World’s Billionaires ranking, which began in 1987.
Elon Musk, who held the top spot last year, has slipped to No. 2. Shares of his electric carmaker Tesla fell by nearly 50% following the April 2022 announcement of his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, partly due to investor fears about Musk adding yet another CEO job to his workload and concerns about the $23 billion of Tesla stock he sold to help finance the deal. Even with his private spaceflight firm SpaceX soaring to new valuation heights, Musk is still worth $39 billion less than a year ago.
Musk’s loss in wealth is second only to that of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who’s the world’s third-richest person, worth $114 billion. He’s $57 billion poorer than in 2022 thanks to a 38% decline in the e-commerce giant’s stock. Larry Ellison (net worth: $107 billion), cofounder of software giant Oracle, takes the No 4. spot. Investing legend Warren Buffett ($106 billion) comes in at No. 5 worldwide.
Where Are The Billionaires
More members of the Forbes list are Americans than citizens of any other country or territory. The U.S. (735 billionaires) is followed by China (495), India (169) and Germany (126).
It was a good year for 150 fresh faces who made the billionaires list for the first time in 2023–a star-studded group that includes basketball legend LeBron James ($1 billion), golf great Tiger Woods ($1.1 billion) and fashion icon Tom Ford ($2.2 billion). Other notable new members of the three-comma club include Austria’s Toto Wolff ($1 billion), a former racer who owns a stake in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team; Ben Francis ($1.2 billion), the 30-year-old founder of U.K. athletic apparel company Gymshark; and Nithin and Nikhil Kamath ($2.7 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively), brothers who created Zerodha, India’s largest stockbroker. A further 65 people who made a previous list but fell off before last year returned to the ranks in 2023.
The average age of the world’s billionaires is 65, and the oldest billionaire is 101-year-old insurance magnate George Joseph ($1.3 billion). But there are plenty of youngsters who have gotten super rich super quickly, including 15 people who are 30 years old or younger. That includes Michal Strnad ($2 billion), 30, whose Czechoslovak Group, which he took over from his father in 2018, is one of the biggest suppliers of arms and ammunition to the Ukrainian army; Mark Mateschitz ($34.7 billion), 30, who is this year’s richest newcomer after inheriting 49% of energy drink business Red Bull from his father, Dietrich Mateschitz (d. October 2022); and a couple of very well-to-do teenagers: Kim Jung-yang ($1.7 billion), a South Korean gaming heir, and Clemente Del Vecchio ($3.5 billion), an heir to Italy’s Luxottica eyewear fortune. Del Vecchio is 18; Kim is believed to be 19, though Forbes could not verify her date of birth.
More billionaires hail from the United States than any other country, with 735 American citizens on the ranking, worth a total of $4.5 trillion. China (including Hong Kong and Macau) remains second, with 562 billionaires, followed by India (169), Germany (126) and Russia (105).
The wealthiest people on the planet are still overwhelmingly male. Forbes found 337 women on this year’s ranking, up from 327 in 2022, good for about 13% of the list, up from 12%. The world’s richest woman remains France’s Francoise Bettencourt Meyers ($80.5 billion), whose grandfather founded beauty giant L’Oréal. There are 96 self-made women billionaires, the richest being Rafaela Aponte-Diamant ($31.2 billion), a Swiss entrepreneur who cofounded shipping giant MSC with her husband Gianluigi in 1970. She was previously listed together with Gianluigi, but is now listed separately as part of a broader overhaul of how we denote shared family wealth.
Overall, 69% of the World’s Billionaires list is self-made–meaning they founded or cofounded their company or established their own fortune, rather than inheriting it–down from 71% last year.
A total of 33 billionaires died over the past year, including Red Bull cofounder Dietrich Mateschitz, Brazilian banking heir Lily Safra and real estate mogul Ted Lerner. (That does not include Intel cofounder Gordon Moore, who died in late March, after Forbes finalized the list, and thus appears on this year’s ranking.)
For a list of the 25 richest people in the world, see here. For the full list of the world’s 2,640 billionaires, see here.
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