magine, if you can, in a pre-Covid world, wandering into a highly exclusive cocktail party populated by some of the wealthiest people on earth. Mostly male, but you’d easily spot the Queen in there, maybe chatting over a Dubonnet and gin with the only other female in the room, Alice Walton, heiress of the Walmart fortune. Some distance away, conspiratorially in a corner there might be Donald Trump, Diet Coke in hand, Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch. The Duke of Westminster, owner of much of central London, has caught the interest of Sir Paul McCartney. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, might be dispensing sage advice to Lionel Messi, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo about their nest eggs.
Quite the gathering, but if you sneaked away to do a little googling you’d soon discover that, loaded as they all are (the Queen would actually be the poorest attendee), if you put all their assets together, and give or take the odd billion down the back of a settee, their combined net worth is less than that of Jeff Bezos, technically still a bloke who works at Amazon (though given that he still owns 10 per cent of it, it might better be said that Amazon works for him).
Bezos’ share of the $1.6 trillion (£1.2 trillion) Amazon is worth as a quoted company outweighs the lot of them. Alongside Elon Musk, usually ranked at the top of the rich lists, Bezos is either the richest person on the planet, or else narrow runner-up. Bezos, by the way, points out that because he has sold 82 per cent of his shares over the years, he and his companies have also enriched many more shareholders and pension funds.
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