The richest people on the planet added $1 trillion to their collective wealth in 2017, more than four times the previous year’s gains, thanks to a surge in stock prices, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.
The Index showed that the 500 richest individuals increased their wealth by 23 percent over the course of the past year, helped by a near 20 percent rise in the benchmark MSCI World Index and the S&P 500.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos enjoyed the greatest jump. His wealth surged by $34.2bn, according to Bloomberg, an achievement that in autumn helped him to leapfrog Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to become the world’s richest person. Currently, Mr Bezos’ wealth is estimated to be a fraction below $100bn.
Shares in Amazon, of which Mr Bezos still owns a large chunk, have surged by around 50 per cent in value over the last 12 months, to well over $1,000 apiece.
Bloomberg said that by the time stock markets closed in the US on 26 December, the world’s 500 richest people controlled a total of $5.3 trillion, which was up from around $4.4 trillion at the same point in 2016.
Veteran financier Warren Buffett is currently listed by Bloomberg as the world’s third-richest person, with an estimated wealth of around $85bn, ahead of Spanish business tycoon Amancio Ortega, at $75.5bn, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at $72.6bn.
By country, Bloomberg said that Chinese billionaires made the greatest gains in 2017. Among the greatest losers was French telecommunications billionaire Patrick Drahi, whose wealth fell by $4.1 billion to $6.3 billion – a 39 percent drop, according to Bloomberg.