Where does Jeff Bezos rank amongst the richest people ever?

Published by Dan Goldstraw on

At his peak Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Net Worth was around $151 billion, and despite changes in Amazon’s share price he still remains the single wealthiest individual living on the planet today. But how does he match up to others who’ve been called that? Has there ever been anyone who’s had even greater levels of wealth than Mr Bezos?

Bill Gates

Net Worth: $96.5 billion

(Copyright Kuhlmann/MSC. 18/02/17.)

Up until Jeff Bezos came along, Bill Gates appeared to be by far and away the richest man on the planet. Whilst Microsoft may not have made him any more than the $100 billion mark he reached in 1999, some have pointed out that, when adjusted for inflation, this figure comes to around 149-150 billion today, putting him only just below Bezos’s Net Worth.

Warren Buffet

Net Worth: $85.9 billion

CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and Duracell, Buffet comes just behind Gates and Bezos as the third richest man in the world. However, he has committed to giving away 99% of his fortune to charity and, along with Gates, launched the Giving Pledge which asks billionaires to donate half their money to charitable causes.

The Walton family

Collective Worth: $174.9 billion

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(Author WESLEY HITT, Hitt Photography. Copyright Wal-Mart Stores Inc.)

Whilst Bezos may currently be the individual worth the most, the family behind Walmart and other chains actually hold more wealth collectively. Brothers Charles and David Koch are worth around $120 billion while Alice Walton, at $40.5 billion, is the richest woman in the world.

The Rothschild family

Collective Worth: (Estimated)

(Copyright Mathieu Chaine.)

A family heavily involved in international banking since the 1700s, there are so many different members of the family, all with their own private holdings, that it is difficult to say just what their collective wealth would be. However, they have been amongst the wealthiest families in the world since the days of the Napoleonic Wars, and, according to Pravda, hold more wealth collectively than the eight wealthiest billionaires put together.

John D. Rockefeller

Net Worth: $341 billion

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One of the big Oil magnates of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Rockefeller’s fortune at the time of his death was the equivalent of 2% of US economic output that year, and around $341 billion in today’s money.

Andrew Carnegie

Net Worth: $372 billion

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Carnegie is less well known than John D. Rockefeller, but Carnegie is thought to have been the richest American of all time. Selling his steel company to J.P. Morgan for $480 million in 1904, this equated to over 2.1% of US GDP at the time, and is around $372 billion by today’s standards.

J. Paul Getty

Net Worth: 9.05 billion

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Founder of the Getty Oil Company, Getty was notoriously stingy despite holding $9.05 billion in today’s money. He’s most famous for refusing to pay a ransom after his grandson was kidnapped… even after the kidnappers chopped off his grandson’s ear. “I have 14 other grandchildren,” he said, “and if I pay one penny now, then I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.” At the time he was the richest man in the world. This was dramatized in the recent film All the Money in the World, which itself got into the headlines after Kevin Spacey got replaced by Christopher Plummer midway through. But really, it’s pretty amazing there wasn’t a film made beforehand.

Amancio Ortega

Net Worth: $71.1 billion

(Copyright WiNG.)

The 5th richest man in the word, Ortega is the owner of the Zara fashion chain.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin

Shared Worth: $117.4 billion

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(Copyright Ehud Kenan)

The founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are each worth over $50 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg

Net Worth: $70.3 billion

(Copyright Anthony Quintano)
Facebook may have gained some controversy recently, but it’s still growing, with Zuckerberg remaining the 6th richest person in the world.

Elon Musk

Net Worth: $23.4 billion

Musk has been making headlines recently for all the wrong reasons but he’s also got some pretty cool investments into space travel and technology. He’s even talked about colonising Mars, so we thought we’d stick him in the list.

Musa I of Mali

Net Worth: $400 billion

Perhaps the one who puts all these others to shame though is Musa I of Mali, whose wealth there’s really no way to put an accurate number on. A medieval African ruler whose empire covered modern day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad; his lands were so rich in gold it’s thought that he was quite probably the richest man in history. It’s recorded that when he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca his caravan stretched further than the eye could see, and that he gave away so much gold to the poor of Cairo it caused mass inflation. Gold lost its value, purely because of him. Jeff Bezos may be the richest man in the world right now, but he probably still has a way to go before reaching that level.


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