200 Global Billionaires




Reported by Julie Androshick, Erika Brown, Katherine Bruce, Brandon Copple, Cecile Daurat, Doug Donovan, Ashlea Ebeling, Benjamin Fulford, Chandrani Ghosh, Joanne Gordon, Shiyori Ito, Naazneen Karmali, Tomas Kellner, Luisa Kroll, Josephine Lee, Hildy Medina, Kazumi Miyazawa, Peter Newcomb, Richard Pinto, Juliette Rossant, Adrienne Sanders, Mary Summers, Caroline Waxler, Cristina von Zeppelin Additional research by Natalie Cannestra, Joan Fitzsimons, Brian Chen and Abigail Kahn.

You’ve got to have money to make money,” the old saying goes. Judging from our research, that’s still mostly true. The world’s wealthiest got even richer this year–on paper. Thank rebounding stock markets in Asia and Latin America, the new-issue technology boom in the U.S. and pockets of prosperity in Europe.

But more of the 26 people new to this list are getting to $1 billion faster. Take Jay Walker of Internet auction service Priceline.com. A year ago, before his company went public, it was probably worth less than $100 million. Now he’s the 14th richest on the list. The speed-to-wealth phenomenon is spreading to Europe, too. High-flying stocks on the Neuer Markt, Germany’s version of Nasdaq, spawned two new billionaires this year–Thomas Haffa and Karl Schmidt.

With wealth increasing faster, it’s no surprise we found some 465 billionaires, more than ever before. We’re choosing again to list the 200 richest who are are still earning it, or are working hard with what they’ve inherited. The poorest is worth $1.6 billion.

The U.S. accounts for the lion’s share of the world’s wealth. Seven of the ten richest this year are from this country, up from just two in 1990.

Some folks had better years than others. Bill Gates’ net worth jumped 76% from a year ago; Brazilian Roberto Marinho’s fell 71%. The symbols at the left signal the directional change in net worth since last year. “New” indicates billionaires we’ve just discovered or those who haven’t cracked this global list before. “Returnees” are those who, for some reason, dropped off and are making a reappearance.

We acknowledge that some of the world’s wealthiest don’t work, at least as most of us know work. They include kings, queens and dictators and extremely wealthy shareholders whom we call Coupon Clippers (see page 220). We’ve also selected six tycoons on their way to billionairedom (see page 218).

Pinpointing an individual’s net worth is in some cases as much art as science. For those with publicly traded fortunes, net worths were calculated using share prices and exchange rates from late April. For privately held fortunes, we estimate what the companies would be worth were they public.

For the 265 billionaires not on the list, please visit our Web site at www.forbes.com.

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