Who ended 2022 as the richest person in the world?

Elon Musk lost the crown to Bernard Arnault after Tesla shares plummeted 69% this year

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It’s been a tumultuous 2022 for the wealthiest people on the planet, with the top 10 richest on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ending the year with heavy losses totalling a combined $359.15 billion, dragged down by global economic uncertainty.

Globally, the world’s billionaires lost nearly $2 trillion combined in 2022, according to Forbes magazine.

Economic uncertainty — compounded by the Russia-Ukraine war, high inflation and rising interest rates — has increased volatility in global financial markets, which fell into bear territory earlier this year after a 13-year bull run.

The biggest individual loser was Tesla co-founder and new Twitter owner Elon Musk, who shed a whopping $138 billion from his net worth in 2022 — almost equivalent to the gross domestic product of Hungary — and lost his title as the world’s richest person for the first time in 14 months.

Now ranked the world’s second-wealthiest person, Mr Musk, 51, lost the top spot to Bernard Arnault, chairman of French luxury group LVMH, on December 12.

Watch: Who is Bernard Arnault, the man who replaced Elon Musk as the world’s richest person?

Mr Arnault has a net worth of $162 billion despite losing $16.4 billion this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Mr Musk is now worth $132 billion, down from $273.5 billion a year ago and a far cry from the peak of his wealth, which hit a high of $320 billion in November 2021, Forbes reported.

The majority of Mr Musk’s fortune is tied to Tesla stock, which has lost more than half of its value since January 3, when it was trading at $399.93.

On Wednesday, Tesla shares were worth $109.10, down 69 per cent year to date, as shareholder concerns deepened over Mr Musk’s distraction with Twitter, which he bought in October for $44 billion, and a fall in demand for electric vehicles.

Perhaps the brightest spot in the top 10 world’s richest list was the rapid rise in personal wealth for India’s self-made billionaire Gautam Adani, who added $42.2 billion to his net worth in 2022.

Mr Adani, chairman of the Adani Group, started climbing the ranks of the world’s richest in April this year, when shares in his listed companies skyrocketed.

He is now the world’s third-richest person, with a net worth of $119 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Over the past two decades, the Adani Group has diversified into ports, power generation and distribution, airports, data centres and digital services.

“Today, he is one of the 100 most influential businessmen worldwide, both in the shipping trade and infrastructure industry,” said Celebrity Net Worth, which tracks the wealth and finances of the rich and famous.

In February, Mr Adani was crowned the wealthiest person in Asia, with a net worth of $88.5 billion, and ranked as the 10th-richest person in the world at the time, Bloomberg reported.

Mr Adani, a first-generation entrepreneur who started out as a diamond trader in Mumbai in the 1980s, helped run his brother’s plastics business in his home state of Gujarat before setting up Adani Enterprises — the group’s flagship company — as an agri-commodities trader in 1988.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates — who held the world’s richest title from 1995 to 2017, according to Forbes — is ranked the fourth-richest person with a net worth of $109 billion.

So far this year, Mr Gates has shed $28.6 billion from his personal fortune but last week said that he expected to drop out of the world’s richest list at some time in the near future.

“I turned 67 in October. It's hard to believe I'm that old — in America, most people my age are retired!” Mr Gates said in his end-of-year blog post on December 20.

“But I won’t be slowing down anytime soon. I’m still going full speed on the project I began more than two decades ago, which is to give the vast majority of my resources back to society.

“Although I don’t care where I rank on the list of the world’s richest people, I do know that as I succeed in giving, I will drop down and eventually off the list altogether.”

In July, Mr Gates said he would give most of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he set up with his ex-wife in 2000.

He also said the foundation would increase its annual endowment payout to $9 billion annually by 2026, up from $6 billion currently.

“To help make this spending increase possible, I am transferring $20 billion to the foundation’s endowment this month,” Mr Gates said at the time. This explains the majority of the decrease in his net worth.

Bill Gates at NYU in Abu Dhabi — in pictures

Meanwhile, renowned investor Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, ended 2022 as the world’s fifth-richest person with a net worth of $106 billion, despite giving more than $4 billion to charity this year.

Like Mr Gates, Mr Buffett, 92, has also pledged to give away the majority of his fortune and was a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation until 2021, when he stepped down from the role.

Since 2006, Mr Buffett has contributed more than $36 billion of his personal fortune to the foundation. In June this year, Mr Buffett gave the foundation $3.1 billion in Berkshire Hathaway B shares.

The past year has also been difficult for Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, who started 2022 as the world’s second-richest person with a net worth of $194.2 billion.

However, Mr Bezos, who was ranked the world’s richest person in 2017 but lost the crown to Mr Musk in September 2021, has dropped back to sixth place after losing $87.6 billion, or 45.5 per cent, of his personal fortune this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

His current net worth is $105 billion, driven down by the value of Amazon stock, which has fallen from $170.40 on January 3 to trade at $83.05 on Wednesday, a drop of 51.27 per cent year to date.

Amazon’s decreased stock value comes amid a slowdown in sales for the world’s biggest e-commerce retailer as high global inflation continues to weigh on consumers.

Watch: Jeff Bezos thanks Amazon staff and customers after trip to space

Larry Ellison, co-founder of computer technology company Oracle, who dropped out of the exclusive $100 billion club earlier this year, is now ranked the world’s seventh-richest person, with a net worth of $90.1 billion.

His fortune is down from $108.1 billion a year ago, when he was the world’s 10th-richest person.

Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani has edged up one place to become the world's eighth-richest person with a fortune of $86.9 billion. So far this year, he has lost $3.1 billion from his net worth, according to Bloomberg data.

Steve Ballmer, former chief executive of Microsoft and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, has also fallen out of the centibillionaires’ club and is now the world’s ninth-wealthiest person, with a fortune of $84.1 billion, down from $120.7 billion a year ago.

Rounding out the top 10 is Google co-founder Larry Page, who has a net worth of $81.2 billion. A year ago, Mr Page was worth $129.5 billion and was the world’s fifth-richest person.

The most notable fall out of the world’s top 10 richest list is Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook.

With a current net worth of $44 billion, Mr Zuckerberg is now the world’s 25th-richest person — down from a high of number three in 2021.

Facebook changed its name to Meta in October 2021 and since the beginning of the year, its share price has plunged 68 per cent, dragged down by a 52 per cent annual drop in third-quarter net profit, which marked the social media company's second consecutive quarterly revenue decline.

The net worth of Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Meta Platforms, has plummeted in 2022. Bloomberg

However, he’s not the only billionaire to experience a diminishing personal fortune.

After ending 2021 with a net worth of $6.8 billion, Ye — the rapper formerly known as Kanye West — has seen his fortune plummet to about $400 million this year.

Ye dropped out of the billionaires’ club in October, when a number of business partners, including adidas, ended business deals with the singer after he made anti-Semitic remarks earlier this year.

But 2022’s biggest fall from grace would have to be that of Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced co-founder and former chief executive of collapsed cryptocurrency trading platform FTX.

Mr Bankman-Fried, 30, lost his $16 billion fortune overnight, in what has been described as the biggest one-day loss on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after FTX filed for bankruptcy in November.

He was arrested in the Bahamas on December 12 after federal prosecutors in the US charged him with eight criminal counts, including conspiracy and wire fraud, for allegedly misusing billions of dollars in customer funds before the $9 billion collapse of FTX and Alameda Research, his cryptocurrency trading company.

He is currently under house arrest at his parents’ home in California after a US court granted him bail of $250 million.

If convicted, he faces up to 115 years in prison, legal experts said — and it is unlikely he will ever feature on the world's rich lists again.

The world’s top 10 richest people in 2022

1. Bernard Arnault — $162 billion

2. Elon Musk — $132 billion

3. Gautam Adani — $119 billion

4. Bill Gates — $109 billion

5. Warren Buffett — $106 billion

6. Jeff Bezos — $105 billion

7. Larry Ellison — $90.1 billion

8. Mukesh Ambani — $86.9 billion

9. Steve Ballmer — $84.1 billion

10. Larry Page — $81.2 billion

Updated: December 29, 2022, 5:30 AM