Pity Britain’s poor rich. Just one of our 37 US dollar billionaires squeezed onto a list of the world’s 100 richest individuals.
Disappointingly for advocate of a classless, meritocratic society, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor is better known as the Duke of Westminster and his billions come from ancestral land acquired centuries ago.
His property empire of $11.4 billion ranked him 89th in Forbes ranking of The World’s Billionaires.
The magazine next rated two sets of enterprising British brothers - the conglomerate-owning Hindujas, Srichand and Gopichand (£8.3 billion, 136th) and the property and metal-dealing Reubens, David and Simon ($10.5 billion, 103rd).
Another happy beneficiary of an aristocratic bloodline, Charles Cadogan, the 8th Earl of Cadogan was fourth; his ownership of much of Chelsea giving him $5 billion and a global ranking of a mere 248th.
Members of the global elite enjoying tax-efficient, high-security palaces in London fared much better than holders of UK passports.
The Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, whose marbled, Turkish-bath-containing home in Kensington Palace Gardens is nicknamed the Taj Mittal, was estimated to have $16.5 billion (41st) and the owner of Chelsea Football Club, the Russian Roman Abramovich - who knocked neighbouring properties in Belgravia into his stuccoed Georgian mansion - £10.3 billion (107th.)
United States claimed 442 billionaires - a third of the world’s total of 1342, according to Forbes 27th list.
Overall, it has been an exceptionally good year for the filthy rich: the overall wealth of the billionaires jumped 18 per cent from $4.6 trillion to $5.4 trillion in 2013. A record 210 new billionaires joined the list.
The surge was a result of rising global stock markets lifted by the monetary stimulus by the US Federal Reserve and robust consumer brands.
Randall Lane, editor of Forbes magazine, said: “It is a very good year to be a billionaire, and a much easier year to be a billionaire.
“You have those economic forces and global markets going up and that is pushing more people over the threshold”.
The telecoms guru Carlos Slim was the richest person in the world again, with a fortune of $73 billion, ahead of the computer-nerd-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates, whose fortune – largely derived from Microsoft shares – was put at $67 billion.
In third for the first time was Amancio Ortega, the Spaniard who co-founded the Inditex fashion group which owns the Zara fashion chain.
His fortune increased by $19.5 billion to $57 billion, the biggest single gain of any of the billionaires, leapfrogging the octogenarian US investor Warren Buffett and Bernard Arnault, of the French luxury goods group LVMH.
“Warren had a great year, it's just that Amancio Ortega had a better year,” Lane said. “He has one of the dominant apparel lines in Europe.”
Mexico's Slim, aged 73, made much of his fortune in telecommunications but also branched out into retail, commodities, finance and energy.
“To see Carlos Slim again broaden his lead and certify himself as the richest man in the world is a statement that wealth truly is global and not an American monopoly like it sometimes felt for many decades,” Lane said.
The tech guru Mark Zuckerberg slipped back to 66th, his fortune shrinking by $4 billion to $13.3 billion because of the collapse of Facebook shares.
The Brazilian mining, energy and shipping magnate, Eike Batista, was the single biggest loser, dropping from seventh to 100th, placing her behind even the Duke of Westminster.
2013 Forbes Billionaires list: the top 10
1. Carlos Slim Helu (Telecoms) $73 billion
2. Bill Gates (Microsoft) $67 billion
3. Amancio Ortega (Zara) $57 billion
4. Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) $53.5 billion
5. Larry Ellison (Oracle) $43 billion
6. Charles Koch (Various) $34 billion
7. David Koch (Various) $34 billion
8. Li Ka-shing (Various) $31 billion
9. Lilianne Bettencourt and family (L'Oreal) $30 billion
10. Bernard Arnault (Louis Vuitton / Bulgari) $29 billion