Elon Musk declared world’s richest person as net worth of wealthy slips to $12.7tn

The Russia-Ukraine crisis, Covid-19 and volatile stock markets caused wealth erosion and led to 329 billionaires dropping out of the Forbes' 2022 rich list

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The combined net worth of the world’s richest people slipped 3 per cent to $12.7 trillion over the past year, from a record $13.1tn in 2021, driven by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Covid-19 pandemic and volatile stock markets, with Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of Tesla topping the Forbes’ 2022 World Billionaires List.

There are 2,668 billionaires in the world, down from an all-time high of 2,755 last year, it said in the annual report, which used stock prices and exchange rates from March 11 to calculate the net worth of the world’s richest people.

“In all, 329 people fell off the billionaires list this year – the most since the 2009 financial crisis,” Forbes said on Tuesday.

Mr Musk, who was recently appointed to Twitter's board after emerging as the biggest single shareholder in the microblogging platform on Monday, topped the Forbes list for the first time with a net worth of $219 billion.

The billionaire, who owns more than 73.4 million shares in the social media platform valued at about $3bn, will “serve as a Class II director with a term expiring at the company’s 2024 annual meeting of stockholders”, Twitter said in a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Tuesday.

In contrast to the Forbes' list, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index named Mr Musk the world’s richest person at the end of 2021 with a personal fortune of $273.5bn.

Mr Musk added $68bn to his net worth over the past year after a 33 per cent jump in the share price of his electric vehicle maker, Tesla, Forbes said.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos fell to number two for the first time in four years “due to a 3 per cent drop in Amazon stock and increased charitable giving, which wiped $6bn from his net worth”, it said.

Who ended 2021 as the world's richest man and why?

Who ended 2021 as the world's richest man and why?

French luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault, who added $8bn to his fortune over the past year, remains the world’s third-richest person. Rounding out the top five are Bill Gates and Warren Buffett with personal fortunes of $129bn and $118bn, respectively.

There were 236 newcomers added to the billionaire ranks this year, including pop star Rihanna, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and venture capitalist Josh Kushner.

The US is home to the most billionaires on the planet with 735, 11 more than in 2021, Forbes said. China is second with 607 billionaires, followed by India (166), Germany (134) and Russia (83). India's Mukesh Ambani remains Asia’s wealthiest person and the 10th richest in the world with a fortune of $90.7bn.

Barbados, Bulgaria, Estonia and Uruguay each gained their first billionaires. Despite the volatile year, 1,050 billionaires are wealthier than they were a year ago, according to Forbes.

Russia's military offensive in Ukraine and the sanctions that followed led the Moscow Exchange and the rouble to plummet, resulting in 34 fewer Russian billionaires on the list, Forbes said.

Meanwhile, 86 people under the age of 40 made the Forbes Billionaires List this year, including Australia's Melanie Perkins, 34, co-founder and chief executive of graphic design platform Canva, with a fortune of $6.5bn.

Even more impressive are the 12 billionaires under the age of 30, Forbes said.

“This includes the world’s youngest billionaire, German drugstore chain heir Kevin David Lehmann, 19, and newcomer Gary Wang, 28, the Bahamas-based American co-founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX – one of 19 billionaires to get rich from crypto and blockchain technology,” it said.

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of the founder of L'Oreal, is the world's richest woman with a net worth of $72.8bn.

Top 10 richest people and their net worth

  • Elon Musk: $219bn
  • Jeff Bezos: $171bn
  • Bernard Arnault: $158bn
  • Bill Gates: $129bn
  • Warren Buffett: $118bn
  • Larry Page: $111bn
  • Sergey Brin: $107bn
  • Larry Ellison: $106bn
  • Steve Ballmer: $91.4bn
  • Mukesh Ambani: $90.7bn
Updated: April 11, 2022, 6:17 AM