Elon Musk is no longer the world's richest person

Another brutal day for Tesla stock sees Musk lose $7.4bn as Bernard Arnault becomes the world's wealthiest man

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Elon Musk has lost his crown as the world's richest man amid a broad collapse in Tesla's value and as he wades deeper into America's culture wars, with each controversial tweet seeming to further erode his electric car company's brand.

Forbes, which runs a real-time tally of the world's richest people, said Mr Musk was worth $181.3 billion when the markets closed on Monday, a drop of $7.4 billion in one day.

He was supplanted in top spot by Bernard Arnault, whose family own the world's leading luxury group, LVMH. Forbes valued Mr Arnault's fortune at $186.2 billion.

At number three is India's Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and investor Warren Buffett round out the list's top five.

Mr Musk's wealth has plummeted this year, driven in part by a drop in tech stocks but also largely by Tesla investors dumping shares as the company's co-founder turns his attention to running Twitter.

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He bought the social media platform for $44 billion in October, partly through the sale of his own Tesla shares.

He immediately fired more than half of the staff and quickly reinstated several banned accounts in the name of free speech, including those of former president Donald Trump and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Mr Musk's net worth has plunged more than $100 billion this year and looks set to collapse further.

Instead of moving to reassure investors that he is still behind the wheel at Tesla, he has continued to focus on perceived grievances against "woke" political discourse in the US and beyond.

Over the weekend, Mr Musk tweeted: “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci", ridiculing people who use gender-neutral pronouns and attacking Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading US expert on infectious diseases.

His public condemnation of Dr Fauci is “dangerous” and “disgusting” and should be called out, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday.

Mr Musk's continual attack on a large part of his own customer base, particularly environmentally conscious liberals on the East and West coasts of the US, has eroded the perception of the Tesla brand.

He was booed loudly at a comedy event with Dave Chappelle over the weekend.

It is not all bad news for investors. Those who have shorted Tesla have seen bumper gains this year. The electric car maker lost 6.27 per cent of its value on Monday alone, delivering handsome returns to them.

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Updated: December 13, 2022, 2:28 PM
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