The mysterious retail guru behind Zara is the second-richest person in the world

Amancio OrtegaGetty Images / Xurxo LobatoZara founder Amancio Ortega grew his company from a tiny dress shop into one of the most-recognised brands in the world.

Business Insider just released its list of the 50 richest people on earth, and, unsurprisingly, the top spot went to household name Bill Gates. But the second-richest person in the world is a secretive, little-known fashion retailing titan from Spain.

With a net worth of $66.8 billion, 79-year-old Amancio Ortega edged out Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett for second place on our ranking — created in collaboration with Wealth-X — thanks to the rising fortunes of his clothing-store conglomerate Inditex.

You might not immediately recognise Ortega’s name, but chances are you’ve visited one of his stores. Once a tiny dress shop in Spain, Inditex is now one of the largest fashion empires worldwide, with more than 6,900 stores globally. The retailer’s portfolio of brands includes Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, and most notably, fast-fashion giant Zara.

Ortega’s net worth has steadily increased since founding Inditex in 1963, but its recent growth spurt caused his wealth to balloon. In 2015 alone, Inditex’s stock rose 34%, and through the first nine months of the year sales were up 16% and profits increased 20%. The company also opened 230 new stores across 48 markets.

His jaw-dropping wealth could easily have made Ortega a media magnet, but he’s craftily avoided the spotlight his entire life. A primary-school dropout born to a poor family, Ortega was a complete mystery before a photo of him was released publicly for the first time in 1999 in advance of Inditex’s initial public offering. Fiercely private and press averse, Ortega reportedly paid off a paparazzi in 2012 to prevent photos of his daughter Marta on her honeymoon from being released, according to Wealth-X.

Ortega also
lives humbly, routinely eating lunch with his employees in the company cafeteria and sticking to a simple uniform of a white shirt and blue blazer.

The self-made fashion magnate is one of eight European billionaires that rank among the 50 richest people on earth.

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