The Amazing Disappearing Billionaire
According to Forbes magazine, which diligently monitors these things, nearly a third of the world’s billionaires have disappeared since last year. The people aren’t gone, just their money. Or at least enough of it to put them back in the company of mere centimillionaires, those with a nine-figure net worth.
Bill Gates recaptured the title of World’s Richest Man from Warren Buffett, which must be small comfort since the Gates fortune slipped in value from $58 billion to only $40 billion in the last year. Buffett, meanwhile, was worth $37 billion, down from $62 billion. Ouch! In third place was Carlos Slim, whose Mexican phone monopoly is the reason it costs about $38,000 per second to phone home from Cancun.
Last year the world had 1,125 billionaires. Now there are 793, a decrease of 332. Notable drop-offs include:
- Anthony O’Reilly, the Irish tycoon who wishes you would all buy more of his Waterford crystal doodads.
- Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg, who would love to add you to his Friends list.
- Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, who earned his now-vaporized billions at the helm of American International Group (AIG), which is now a federal agency.
- Wong Kong Kyu, a Hong-Kong based retailing mogul who really did disappear after Chinese authorities suspended trading is his company’s stock. There are reports that he may be under house arrest in Beijing.
One person who is still on the list, and really wants you to know it, is Saudi Prince Alwaleed. (He has a bunch of other names but Alwaleed is enough for our purposes here.) Given that Citigroup (C) is one of the prince’s favorite stocks, the fact that he remains in the Billionaire Club is nothing short of a miracle.
Meanwhile, some folks have more important things to worry about than counting their money. Where to live, for instance.