It has been another turbulent year for the wealthiest people on the planet, as a combination of global stock market volatility, rising interest rates and “wounded unicorns” dragged down their combined net worth for the second year running, according to the Forbes 2023 World Billionaires List.
The combined net worth of the world’s billionaires dropped to $12.2 trillion over the past year, down from $12.7 trillion in March 2022, Forbes said in its annual report, which used stock prices and exchange rates from March 10 to calculate the net worth of the world’s wealthiest.
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“Globally, we counted 2,640 10-figure fortunes, down from 2,668 last year,” Forbes said on Wednesday.
“Nearly half the list is poorer than a year ago, including Elon Musk, who falls from No 1 to No 2 after his pricey acquisition of Twitter helped sink Tesla shares.”
Bernard Arnault, chairman of French luxury group LVMH, is the world’s richest person with a net worth of $211 billion, Forbes said. He is the first French citizen to lead the rankings.
In contrast to the Forbes list, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index named Mr Arnault the world’s richest person on December 12. Mr Arnault's current net worth is $201 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the US continues to have the most billionaires in the world, with 735 Americans on the list collectively worth $4.5 trillion, Forbes said.
China, including Hong Kong and Macau, remains second, with 562 billionaires worth $2 trillion, followed by India, with 169 billionaires worth $675 billion, it added.
Mr Musk, co-founder of Tesla and the owner of Twitter, is ranked second on the Forbes list with a net worth of $180 billion.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos remains in third place with a personal fortune of $114 billion, followed by Larry Ellison, co-founder of computer technology company Oracle, in fourth place with $107 billion.
Forbes ranked renowned investor Warren Buffett as the fifth-richest person in the world with a net worth of $106 billion, while Microsoft founder Bill Gates fell one spot to sixth place with $104 billion.
In December, Mr Gates said 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.”
Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, founder of information and media company Bloomberg and the former mayor of New York City, is a new entrant on the Forbes top 10 list, coming in at seventh with a personal fortune of $94.5 billion.
Mexico's Carlos Slim, once the world’s richest person, is ranked eighth with a net worth of $93 billion.
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Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani has moved up a rank to be the world’s ninth-richest person with a fortune of $83.4 billion.
Rounding out the top 10 is Steve Ballmer, former chief executive of Microsoft and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, with $80.7 billion.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of the founder of L'Oreal, remains the world's richest woman with a net worth of $80.5 billion. Ms Bettencourt Meyers is also the world’s 11th-richest person, according to Forbes.
However, the world’s wealthiest people are still “overwhelmingly male”, with only 337 women — or 13 per cent — included on the list, Forbes said.
World's top 10 richest people in 2023
- Bernard Arnault — $211 billion
- Elon Musk — $180 billion
- Jeff Bezos — $114 billion
- Larry Ellison — $107 billion
- Warren Buffett — $106 billion
- Bill Gates — $104 billion
- Michael Bloomberg — $94.5 billion
- Carlos Slim — $93 billion
- Mukesh Ambani — $83.4 billion
- Steve Ballmer — $80.7 billion