Ten of the world’s richest people increase wealth by more than $450 billion during coronavirus pandemic

The wealthiest men in the world including Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are reported to have earned more than $450bn during the global pandemic, as their businesses flourished despite the public facing social distance restrictions

Liam Coleman
Sunday 20 December 2020 23:41 GMT
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world and has seen profits skyrocket throughout the coronavirus pandemic
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world and has seen profits skyrocket throughout the coronavirus pandemic (REUTERS)
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Ten of the richest people in the world have increased their vast wealth by more than $400bn during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

The extra wealth accumulated by the 10 men – around $450bn – since the coronavirus pandemic began, has come as a result of social restrictions as people were trapped at home, and governments turned their attention towards more environmental power supplies.

As the public have been forced to order Christmas presents online after non-essential retailers closed for months, Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, has watched his wealth rocket by $70bn since March, according to The Guardian.

He is now worth a reported $185bn as hundreds of millions of people stuck at home turned to the online delivery giant to keep themselves fed and entertained.

Other members of the super-rich elite who have seen huge financial benefits during the crisis include: Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla; Bernard Arnault, the French billionaire who owns most of luxury brand portfolio LVMH; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; and Google’s Larry Page.

Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth rocket by $70bn since March and the start of the pandemic
Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth rocket by $70bn since March and the start of the pandemic ((AFP via Getty Images))

While many small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, Amazon’s shares have increased by 90 per cent since March.

Bezos, who started Amazon in his garage in 1994, still owns 11 per cent of the company’s stock, has seen his wealth has grow by 66 per cent since March.

But the Amazon founder’s gains are still in the shadow of those of Elon Musk, the co-founder and chief executive of electric car company Tesla.

Musk’s fortune soared to $153bn, up from $25bn in March, as investors bet that the pandemic would lead governments to speed up the switch from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.

Musk owns 20 per cent of Tesla and is now the world’s second richest person, up from 35th in the global league table of billionaires back in January.

Bernard Arnault, Europe’s richest person, has seen his fortune double since the pandemic began, as demand for luxury brands in his LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton stable bounced back.

Arnault’s wealth increased from $69bn in March to $148bn, to make him the third richest person on the planet.  

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, the fourth-richest person, has an estimated $120bn fortune. Gates’s wealth has increased by about $20bn since March.

Elon Musk is now the second richest person in the world as Tesla has seen a huge boost in profits during the pandemic
Elon Musk is now the second richest person in the world as Tesla has seen a huge boost in profits during the pandemic (AFP via Getty Images)

Luke Hildyard, executive director of the High Pay Centre, a thinktank that focuses on excessive pay, told the Guardian: “People perhaps fail to appreciate the vast extent of billionaire wealth. To give you some perspective, just the increase in the net worth of these 10 individuals over the past 10 months is more than the estimated amount that the UK government has spent this year fighting the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus on behalf of 66 million people.

The other billionaires to have significantly boosted their fortunes since the pandemic began are Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who saw his wealth increase by about 80 per cent to $100bn, investor Warren Buffett, whose fortune increased by 26 per cent to $85bn, and Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, whose wealth swelled by 50 per cent to $88bn.

Google’s Larry Page increased his wealth by half to $76bn, his co-founder, Sergey Brin, saw a similar increase to $74bn, and Amancio Ortega, founder of Inditex, saw his fortune rise 47per cent to $75bn.

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