While the richest got spectacularly richer during the pandemic, the ex-president Donald Trump plummeted nearly 300 places in the Forbes list
It’s been a glorious pandemic for the world’s richest people. Forbes annual billionaire poll includes a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once again topping the list, the media company said on Tuesday. The ranks of the super wealthy swelled as the coronavirus pandemic threatened the lives and livelihoods of millions across the planet but stock markets continued to hit new highs.
Bezos was one of the biggest winners, topping the poll for the fourth consecutive year with a fortune of $177bn, while Tesla boss Elon Musk zoomed into second place with a $151bn fortune, up $126.4bn from a year ago, when he ranked No 31 and was worth “just” $24.6bn.
Together the plutocrats added $5tn to their wealth for a combined fortune of $13.1tn, up from $8tn on the 2020 list. A record 493 people joined the list this year – one new billionaire every 17 hours. The majority, 205, were in China. But the gains were widespread with gains across the world.
Not everyone was a winner. According to the latest list, Donald Trump’s standing among other billionaires has plummeted almost 300 places since 2020, down to No 1,299. The humiliating fall sits on Forbes’ next to a quote from the former president reading: “I took a lot of finance courses at Wharton. First they taught you all the rules and regulations. Then they taught you that those rules and regulations are really meant to be broken.”
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Trump has lost millions on his retail locations, hotels and golf resorts in the last few years. But it does seem that businesses who were distancing themselves from Trump after the Capitol attack, continue to lease his properties, helping him to rake in millions on some properties in the last year.
Among the other losers were Galen Weston, chairman emeritus of George Weston, the Canadian food and retail giant that also owns Selfridges who dropped off the list as the retail sector struggled with the fallout of the pandemic. Model and businesswoman Kylie Jenner was also delisted after it was revealed that she had inflated her sales figures to get on the 2020 list. But the Kardashians did have a win, her sister Kim Kardashian West (whose bio reads: “I do feel like success is the best revenge”) was officially declared a billionaire.
Kanye West, Kardashian West’s estranged husband, also maintained his billionaire status with a fortune of $1.8bn. Sixty-one billionaires dropped off the list this year, the smallest number of drop-offs in a decade. Among them was Isabel dos Santos, once the richest woman in Africa, who fell amid corruption charges.
But this was overall a great year to be a billionaire. Eighty-six per cent of the list increased their wealth. The new entrants included movie and TV producer Tyler Perry, who provided a home and security to Prince Harry and Meghan when they relocated from Canada to Los Angeles last year.
Bumble dating app co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, 31, became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, and Europe’s Guillaume Pousaz, 39, founder of payments firm Checkout.com, the youngest self-made male billionaire.
Britain’s richest man, James Ratcliffe, founder, chairman and majority owner of chemical company Ineos Group, climbed five places up the list to No 113 with a fortune of $17bn. The richest newcomer was Miriam Adelson of Nevada, who inherited her husband Sheldon Adelson’s casino empire following his death in January and a $38.2bn fortune.
About 250 people who had previously fallen off the list rejoined it this year. A rising tide apparently lifts all mega yachts. But it was the incredibly wealthy who made the biggest gains. The 0.001% did even better than their lesser peers. The top 10 richest people on the list are worth $1.15tn, up from $686bn last year.
“The very, very rich got very, very richer,” Forbes’ chief content officer Randall Lane said in an interview with Reuters Video News. Meanwhile, the pandemic looks to increase the number of people living in extreme poverty by up to 150 million people this year – the first year that the number collated by the world bank has risen in 20 years. – the guardian.