Property is the reason why many of the people that have increased their fortunes over the last year now top the Sunday Times Rich List 2016.
The newspaper, which lists the 1,000 wealthiest individuals and families in the UK, also notes that the richest people in Britain have suffered from the worst fall in fortune since the credit crunch in 2007, due to the commodities market crash.
Property portfolios rocket boosting fortunes
This combination of a property boom and a massive slump in the commodities markets have caused a huge shake-up in the rankings.
For example, Baroness Howard de Walden, eldest of four daughters of the late Lord Howard de Walden, increased the family’s fortune by £400 million in 2014 to 2015, mainly due to their control of 90 acres of central London land. Other landowners like Charles Gerald John Cadogan also presented a similar turn in fortune due to the property boom.
Cadogan, who has cultivated a massive fortune through the property company Cadogan Group, owns 93 acres in Chelsea — one of the capital’s prime locations — and has increased his fortunes by £900 million.
Other property investors such as the famous Barclays brothers and the Duke of Westminster saw their fortunes soar by hundreds of millions.
Newcomers, such as ex-Morgan Stanley banker John Grayken and South African Christo Wiese, entered the top 25 in The Sunday Times Rich List due to their property portfolios.
Ultimately, Mumbai-born brothers and British citizens Simon and David Reuben boosted their combined wealth to £13.1 billion ($18.9 billion) and topped the rankings to become the richest people in Britain — thanks to the returns from their lucrative properties — such as the Millbank Tower, the John Lewis Partnership HQ in Victoria, and shops in Sloane Street.
The commodities market crash killing billionaires’ fortunes
While the property billionaires enjoyed a boost to their fortunes, those heavily exposed to the commodities markets had a horrific year.
Regular rich list member, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, has seen his wealth crash by around 75% since 2008 — he used to be worth £27.7 billion but now he’s worth £7.12 billion.
Likewise, oil billionaires Carrie and François Perrodo fell from 16th to 28th position this year after the family lost £2.45 billion of their fortune — a massive 42% drop.
Carrie is the widow of the late Hubert Perrodo, who founded the Franco-British oil company Perenco. When he died in an Alpine climbing accident in 2006, Carrie and her eldest son, Francois, took control of the company.
Oil prices have slumped by more than 60% since June 2014.
Alisher Usmanov made his money through steel and iron ore mines and companies such as Metalloinvest, and has a 30% stake in Arsenal Football Club. He has slipped from 4th spot to 10th due to his large stake in commodities.
His fortune this year tallies at £7.58 billion — equating to a 23% drop in his wealth.