The 500 wealthiest people in the world made $1 trillion in 2017

  • The 500 wealthiest people in the world got $US1 trillion richer in 2017 according to a new Bloomberg report.
  • The Bloomberg Billionaires Index revealed that total fortunes hit more han $US5 trillion.
  • 67 new and hidden billionaires were also discovered in 2017.

The 500 wealthiest people on the planet got $US1 trillion richer in 2017, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

The staggering 23% increase is more than four times higher than last year, and brought total fortunes to more than $US5 trillion.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the 500 richest people in the world, revealed that billionaires controlled $US5.3 trillion by the end of trading on December 26, up from $US4.4 trillion on December 27, 2016.

The 440 billionaires on the Index who added to their fortunes in 2017 gained a combined $US1.05 trillion.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos regained the title of richest person in the world in October, knocking Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to second and adding the most wealth in the world throughout the year with a $US34.2 billion gain.

Bezos’ net worth topped $US100 billion at the end of November and currently sits at $US99.6 billion.

Gates, meanwhile, has a net worth of $US91.3 billion, having donated much of his fortune to charity this year, including a $US4.6 billion donation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in August.

He wasn’t the only one who dropped on the list due to donating a substantial amount of cash – George Soros revealed in October that his family office had given $US18 billion to his Open Society Foundations over the past several years, according to Bloomberg, putting Soros at number 195 on the Index with a net worth of $US8 billion.

A big year for tech

The 38 Chinese billionaires on the Index added $US177 billion in 2017, a 65% gain that was the biggest of the 49 countries represented, according to Bloomberg. The number of Asian billionaires also surpassed the U.S. for the first time, according to a UBS Group AG and PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

Still, the U.S. has the largest presence on the Index, with 159 billionaires who added $US315 billion, an 18% gain that gives them a collective net worth of $US2 trillion.

Meanwhile, the 57 technology billionaires on the Index added $US262 billion, a 35% increase that was the most of any sector on the list.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg had the fourth largest U.S. dollar increase on the Index, adding $US22.6 billion, or 45%.

The Index also discovered 67 hidden billionaires in 2017, including Renaissance Technologies’ Henry Laufer, fish billionaires Vitaly Orlov of Russia and Chuck Bundrant of Trident Seafood, New York real estate moguls Ben Ashkenazy and Joel Wiener, and bitcoin investors Tyler and Cameron Winkelvoss.

A billion ‘doesn’t buy what it used to’

However, 60 of the top 500 did not add to their fortunes, and 58 some even saw them fall, losing a combined $US46 billion.

French telecommunications billionaire Patrick Drahi saw his fortune drop 39% to $US6.3 billion, while Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal – the richest person in Saudi Arabia – dropped $US1.9 billion to $US17.8 billion after a crackdown against corruption.

Sixty billionaires also fell from the ranking completely.

According to Bloomberg, as the wealth of the richest people in the world skyrockets, a billion dollars “doesn’t buy what it used to,” with house prices hitting $US300 million, the cost of divorce at $US1 billion, and a painting by Leonardo da Vinci selling for $US450.3 million at a Christie’s auction in November, the most expensive work ever sold.

“It’s part of the second-most robust and second-longest bull market in history,” Mike Ryan, chief investment officer for the Americas at UBS Wealth Management, told Bloomberg. “Of all the guidance we gave people over the course of this year, the most important advice was staying invested.”

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