The World’s Richest
The 50 biggest fortunes on the planet. Plus: The complete list of all 2,095 billionaires.
The richest people on Earth are not immune to the coronavirus. As the pandemic tightened its grip on Europe and America, global equity markets imploded, tanking many fortunes. As of March 18, when we finalized this list, Forbes counted 2,095 billionaires, 58 fewer than a year ago and 226 fewer than just 12 days earlier, when we initially calculated these net worths. Of the billionaires who remain, 51% are poorer than they were last year. In raw terms, the world’s billionaires are worth $8 trillion, down $700 billion from 2019. For many more details about the world’s wealthiest, please visit forbes.com/billionaires.
JEFF BEZOS 1. $113 billion
AGE: 56 U.S. SOURCE: Amazon
In mid-March Amazon announced it would hire 100,000 full-time and parttime workers at its delivery networks and fulfillment centers to meet increased demand from consumers staying home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and said it would prioritize shipments of medical supplies and household staples. By the end of the month, at least 10 of its warehouse workers reportedly had COVID-19. On March 26, Bezos posted on Instagram that Amazon was providing logistical and technical support to the World Health Organization in its efforts against the virus. Previously, in February, he had pledged $10 billion to fight climate change through his new Bezos Earth Fund. Last summer, he gave a quarter of his Amazon stake to his former wife, MacKenzie, as part of the world’s costliest divorce. He has very publicly moved on with girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
BILL GATES 2. $98 billion 64
AGE: U.S. SOURCE: Microsoft
Gates announced on March 13 that he would be stepping down from the board of Microsoft, the software company he cofounded with Paul Allen (d. 2018) in 1975, then led as CEO until 2000 and chaired until 2014. He’s also leaving the board of Berkshire Hathaway, run by his friend Warren Buffett. Gates is focusing his time as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which in early February announced it would spend up to $100
million for COVID-19 relief. Of that, as much as $60 million will go to developing and testing vaccines, treatments and diagnostics of the novel coronavirus. On March 24, during a virtual TED Talk, Gates warned Americans that total isolation for six to ten weeks was the only viable option to minimize deaths and economic damage from COVID-19: “It’s very tough to say to people, ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies in the corner.’ ” Gates had predicted a pandemic in a 2015 Ted Talk, saying that “not missiles, but microbes” could kill millions of people in the decades to come—and that the world was not ready.
3. BERNARD ARNAULT & FAMILY $76 billion AGE: 71 FRANCE SOURCE: LVMH
The titan behind luxury-goods group LVMH had quite the year. In November, he announced a deal to buy American jeweler Tiffany & Co. for $16.2 billion. Shortly after, his company posted record sales of $60.2 billion for 2019. At his peak, in January 2020, Arnault was worth $116.5 billion, only to tumble since the coronavirus crisis hit demand. In March, Arnault directed LVMH’s perfume and cosmetics factories to start producing hand disinfectant gel, to be given out free to France’s health authorities. Arnault also secured an order from a Chinese industrial supplier in late March for delivery of 40 million masks to France over four weeks.
WARREN BUFFETT 4. $67.5 billion 89
AGE: U.S. SOURCE: Berkshire Hathaway
The investing legend, whose Berkshire Hathaway sat on a $128 billion cash pile at the end of 2019, may be in a position to pounce in a market in freefall. The Omaha, Nebraska–based firm increased its holdings in Delta Air Lines—hit hard amid the coronavirus panic—by roughly 1 million shares in late February, and remains the airline’s largest shareholder with an 11% stake. Berkshire Hathaway recently announced that it will bar its shareholders from traveling to its famous annual meeting in Omaha, scheduled for May 2020. The meeting will be live-streamed instead.
LARRY ELLISON 5. $59 billion AGE: 75 U.S. SOURCE: Software
See story, page 88.
AMANCIO ORTEGA 6. Shares of Inditex, which owns global retail chain Zara, climbed modestly over the past year before plummeting 35% since midFebruary. The value of his vast commercial-property portfolio may also take a hit, but Ortega will be fine; he pocketed over $1 billion in dividends in 2019. Inditex, meanwhile, is working to distribute masks, gloves and protective glasses to Spain’s health system.
MARK ZUCKERBERG 7. $54.7 billion 35 • Facebook
AGE: U.S. SOURCE:
Facebook was fined a historic $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commision in July for violating consumers’ privacy. The social network, which has 2.9 billion users, has become a go-to communication tool for those on lockdown. It was also the first big tech company to announce plans to pay all its workers a $1,000 bonus to help offset the economic impact of the coronavirus.
JIM WALTON 8. $54.6 billion AGE: 71 U.S. SOURCE: Walmart ALICE WALTON 9. $54.4 billion AGE: 70 U.S. SOURCE: Walmart ROB WALTON 10. $54.1 billion AGE: 75 U.S. SOURCE: Walmart
Rob, the eldest child of Walmart founder Sam Walton, helped take Walmart public as a young attorney in 1970 and still sits on its board. Together with his two siblings and their heirs, the family owns about half of the company’s stock. In March, the world’s biggest retailer opened its first coronavirus testing sites, announced $550 million in bonuses for all hourly workers and disclosed plans to add 150,000 temporary jobs to help the company meet the surge in demand tied to the pandemic.
STEVE BALLMER 11. $52.7 billion AGE: 64 U.S. SOURCE: Microsoft
Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers recently teamed up with the L.A. Kings, Lakers and the city’s Staples Center arena to provide financial support to hourly event employees affected by the suspension of sporting events at the venue. Ballmer bought the Clippers in 2014, the same year he stepped down as CEO of Microsoft.
CARLOS SLIM 12. HELÚ & FAMILY $52.1 billion 80
AGE: MEXICO Telecom
A weaker Mexican peso and a slide in the shares of Slim’s biggest holding, telecom giant America Movil, pushed his net worth down by $11.9 billion compared to 2019.
LARRY PAGE 13. $50.9 billion 47
AGE: U.S. Google
Page left his role as CEO of Google parent Alphabet in December. Google was tapped by President Trump to set up a website for Americans to find nearby coronavirus screening sites; it launched on March 16, with info on four counties in California, and plans to expand.
SERGEY BRIN 14. $49.1 billion AGE: 46 U.S. SOURCE: Google
Brin stepped down as president of Alphabet in December but, like Page, sits on the board. He is now married to Nicole Shanahan, the founder and CEO of patent management firm ClearAccessIP.
FRANÇOISE 15. BETTENCOURT MEYERS & FAMILY $48.9 billion AGE: 66 FRANCE SOURCE: L’Oréal
The granddaughter of L’Oréal’s founder, Bettencourt Meyers has been on the beauty company’s board since 1997. In March, L’Oréal announced its factories would make hand sanitizer to donate to French and European health authorities.
MICHAEL 16. BLOOMBERG $48 billion 78
AGE: U.S. SOURCE: Bloomberg LP
Bloomberg spent at least $875 million on his failed presidential bid, only to pull out in early March after a poor showing on Super Tuesday. He later announced an $18 million transfer from his defunct campaign to the Democratic National Committee.
JACK MA 17. $38.8 billion AGE: 55 CHINA SOURCE: E-commerce
Ma retired as chairman of online-shopping giant Alibaba Group in September and said he would get more involved in philanthropy. In March, the Jack Ma Foundation announced it would donate 1 million masks and 500,000 coronavirus test kits to the U.S.
18. CHARLES KOCH $38.2 billion AGE: 84 U.S. SOURCE: Koch Industries
He runs $110 billion (sales) Koch Industries, which makes everything from glass for skyscrapers to Angel Soft toilet paper. The Kansas native also heads political and philanthropic network Stand Together. Some of its member organizations sent a letter to Congress in mid-March urging swift action in response to the pandemic while limiting industry bailouts and considering fiscal responsibility.
18. JULIA KOCH & FAMILY $38.2 billion AGE: 57 U.S. SOURCE: Koch Industries
Koch and her three children inherited a 42% stake in Koch Industries after her husband, David Koch, died in August 2019. The couple met in 1991 on a blind date. An Iowa native, she was an assistant to fashion designer Adolfo in the 1980s.
20. MA HUATENG $38.1 billion AGE: 48 CHINA SOURCE: Internet media
Stuck at home, many Chinese took to their mobile phones to play Tencent-distributed online games, boosting usage. In February, Tencent announced a $210 million fund for medical care and support for the needy.
21. MUKESH AMBANI $36.8 billion AGE: 62 INDIA SOURCE: Petrochemicals, oil and gas
His Reliance Industries ran up $43 billion in debt after an expansion into telecom with Reliance Jio, which now has over 370 million subscribers. Last August, Ambani said Reliance would pay off much of that mountain of debt by March 2021 and outlined a proposal to sell a 20% stake in Reliance’s refining and petrochemicals business to Saudi Aramco for $15 billion. The oil price crash could delay Ambani’s plans. The Indian government, which has a longrunning disagreement with Reliance over certain oil-and-gas field dues, has opposed the stake sale to Aramco.
22. MACKENZIE BEZOS $36 billion AGE: 50 U.S. • SOURCE: Amazon
Bezos signed the Giving Pledge in May, after she and Jeff Bezos agreed on a divorce settlement that granted her a quarter of his Amazon stake. He retains voting power over her shares.
23. BEATE HEISTER & KARL ALBRECHT JR. $33.3 billion GERMANY SOURCE: Supermarkets
The press-shy siblings inherited low-priced, no-frills supermarket chain Aldi Sued from their late father, Karl Albrecht Sr., in 2014. Amid the pandemic, Aldi, one of Germany’s biggest retailers, is enhancing its sick-leave policy and boosting cleaning at its stores and warehouses.
24. DAVID THOMSON & FAMILY $31.6 billion AGE: 62 CANADA SOURCE: Media
Thomson’s grandfather Roy acquired his first newspaper in the 1930s. His media empire, Thomson Reuters, and Blackstone plan to sell their stakes in financial-data provider Refinitiv to the London Stock Exchange later in 2020. The deal values Refinitiv at $27 billion.
25. PHIL KNIGHT & FAMILY $29.5 billion AGE: 82 U.S. SOURCE: Nike
Nike, which Phil Knight cofounded in 1964, shuttered its 384 stores across the U.S. as well as all locations in Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand in mid-March. The move came two months after Nike’s longtime chief executive, Mark Parker, stepped down. Knight retired as chairman in June 2016.
26. LEE SHAU KEE $28.1 billion AGE: 92 HONG KONG SOURCE: Real estate
Lee stepped down as chairman of Henderson Land Development, the property giant that makes up the bulk of his fortune, in May, handing the reins to his two sons, Peter Lee Ka Kit and Martin Lee Ka Shing. His fortune slipped by $2 billion as Hong Kong’s economy fell into recession.
27. FRANÇOIS PINAULT & FAMILY $27 billion AGE: 83 FRANCE SOURCE: Luxury goods
The family’s luxury group, Kering, which owns fashion brands Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gucci, said in March it would pay to import 3 million surgical masks from China to give to French health services.
28. SHELDON ADELSON $26.8 billion AGE: 86 U.S. SOURCE: Casinos
America’s reigning casino mogul closed his Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas on March 17 but will continue to pay employees; his casinos in Macao and Singapore remain open. The GOP megadonor and his wife, Miriam, donated $120 million to Republicans for the 2018 midterms. Some expect him to spend more than $100 million more to reelect Trump and back Republican congressional candidates this year.
29. JACQUELINE MARS $24.7 billion AGE: 80 U.S. SOURCE: Candy, pet food 29. JOHN MARS $24.7 billion AGE: 84 U.S. SOURCE: Candy, pet food
Mars siblings each inherited an estimated one-third of the $35 billion (sales) candy company known for M&M’s and Milky Way bars. In September, Mars acquired a majority stake in Berlin-based protein and snack company Foodspring for an undisclosed sum.
ELON MUSK 31. $24.6 billion AGE: 48 U.S. SOURCE: Tesla, SpaceX
Shares of his electric-car company, Tesla, took off last fall, more than tripling between September and mid-February, but they’ve tumbled into a lower stratosphere since then. Musk, who tweeted in early March that “coronavirus panic is dumb,” now says one of his factories will make ventilators.
32. GIOVANNI FERRERO $24.5 billion AGE: 55 ITALY • SOURCE: Nutella, chocolates
Ferrero chairs his family’s namesake confections business, best known for Nutella and Tic Tac mints. He stepped down as CEO in 2017 but still focuses on big deals such as its $2.8 billion acquisition of Nestle’s U.S. candy business in 2018. At least two of its Italian factories cut their workforce by as much as 50% in March amid the coronavirus crisis.
MICHAEL DELL 33. $22.9 billion AGE: 55 U.S. SOURCE: Dell computers
Roughly a year after his computer firm Dell Technologies returned to public markets, the stock is struggling. In March, the company promised at least $4 million to fund hospitals and front-line organizations fighting COVID-19. In response to a news report of young people partying on Florida beaches during the outbreak in mid-March, Dell tweeted out a warning to the revelers not to apply for jobs at his companies.
HUI KA YAN 34. $21.8 billion AGE: 61 CHINA SOURCE: Real estate
The fortune of China’s wealthiest real estate developer has dropped along with demand for projects for sale by his Evergrande Group. Outside of real estate, Hui announced a three-year, $6.4 billion investment into electric vehicles in November.
LI KA-SHING 35. $21.7 billion AGE: 91 HONG KONG SOURCE: Diversified
Li, one of Asia’s most influential businessmen, donated $13 million to help the city of Wuhan deal with the coronavirus outbreak. His foundation also said it distributed 250,000 face masks in Hong Kong, which has been plagued by a shortage of protective gear.
HE XIANGJIAN 36. $21.6 billion AGE: 77 CHINA SOURCE: Home appliances
Midea Group, one of the world’s largest appliance manufacturers, donated goods including washers and dryers to hospitals battling COVID-19 in Wuhan.
JIM SIMONS 36. $21.6 billion AGE: 81 U.S. SOURCE: Hedge funds
The richest hedge fund manager founded quantitative trading firm Renaissance Technologies, which last year managed $130 billion. In February, its stocks-focused fund reportedly had one of its worst months in a decade, dropping 7%.
38. YANG HUIYAN & FAMILY $20.3 billion AGE: 38 CHINA SOURCE: Real estate
Yang owns 57% and co-chairs the board of Hong Kong–listed real estate developer Country Garden, which her father founded and chairs. In February, Country Garden set up automated food-service stations in Wuhan—stand-alone buffets where machines put food on plates with no human contact— to serve coronavirus front-line medical workers.
JOSEPH SAFRA 39. $19.9 billion AGE: 81 BRAZIL SOURCE: Banking
Safra owns banks in Switzerland, New York and Brazil. His net worth fell sharply in midMarch as banking-sector values plummeted and both the Swiss franc and the Brazilian real weakened against the dollar.
DIETER SCHWARZ 40. $19.8 billion AGE: 80 GERMANY SOURCE: Retail
Schwarz turned his low-price Lidl grocery and home products store chain into an attraction for eco-conscious Millennials. Known for organic produce and displaying products in custom boxes so workers don’t have to hand-stock shelves, Lidl has more than 10,000 stores in 29 countries, including the U.S.
VLADIMIR 41. POTANIN $19.7 billion AGE: 59 RUSSIA SOURCE: Metals
Russia’s richest person. Potanin’s precious-metals giant, Nornickel, began testing a cryptocurrency token backed by its palladium, cobalt and copper reserves in February.
TADASHI YANAI & 41. FAMILY $19.7 billion AGE: 71 JAPAN SOURCE: Fashion retail
The chairman of apparel giant Fast Retailing, which reported record net profit in August, is Japan’s richest person despite a 14% drop in the company’s shares. The coronavirus outbreak forced Uniqlo to shut half of its 750 stores in China; all but 20 had reopened as of late March. Fifty stores in the U.S. temporarily closed.
QIN YINGLIN & 43. FAMILY $18.5 billion AGE: 54 CHINA SOURCE: Pig breeding
China is the world’s largest consumer of pork, and Qin is the world’s richest pig breeder. Shares of his Shenzhen-listed Muyuan Foods nearly tripled in the past year as profits soared, fueled by higher prices tied to the African swine fever, which reduced China’s pig population by a reported 40% in 2019. His wife, Qian Ying, is Muyuan’s cofounder and also a billionaire. The couple started the business with 22 pigs in 1992.
LUKAS WALTON 44. $18.4 billion AGE: 33 U.S. SOURCE: Walmart
The grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton inherited his fortune when his father, John Walton, died in a 2005 plane crash. After studying environmentally sustainable business at Colorado College, he began investing in ecofriendly funds and now chairs the environmental committee at the family’s foundation.
VLADIMIR LISIN 45. $18.1 billion AGE: 63 RUSSIA SOURCE: Steel, transport
Shares in his listed steel firm NLMK Group fell 36% over the past year—11% in the first half of March as markets reacted to coronavirus fears. The International Shooting Sport Federation, which he leads as president, also postponed its World Cup, scheduled for March in New Delhi. Lisin got his start as an electrical fitter and then worked as a steelworker in western Russia.
46. RAY DALIO $18 billion AGE: 70 U.S. • SOURCE: Hedge funds
One of Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates funds has fallen 21% this year amid the coronavirus-induced market sell-off. While stocks crashed, Dalio voiced concerns about the debt problems and restructuring that many companies and industries will face as a result of the tumult. He estimated corporations will lose about $12 trillion globally. Dalio launched Bridgewater, which manages about $160 billion, in 1975 from his New York apartment.
TAKEMITSU 47. TAKIZAKI $17.4 billion AGE: 74 JAPAN SOURCE: Sensors
Shares of his Keyence, a supplier of sensors and electronic components for factory automation systems, outperformed the market and rivals this year.
LEONID 48. MIKHELSON $17.1 billion AGE: 64 RUSSIA SOURCE: Gas, chemicals
Mikhelson joined the precursor to natural-gas giant Novatek and held onto control during its privatization. He runs the $14 billion (sales) firm.
ALAIN 48. WERTHEIMER $17.1 billion AGE: 71 FRANCE SOURCE: Chanel GÉRARD 48. WERTHEIMER $17.1 billion AGE: 69 FRANCE SOURCE: Chanel
The reclusive brothers own luxury brand Chanel. Their grandfather Pierre was an early partner of Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel. Amid the pandemic, Chanel announced in mid-March that it was temporarily shutting its U.S. stores. The company reported $11.1 billion in sales in 2018, the last year available.