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At $200B net worth, Jeff Bezos is still not richest man of all time

Jeff Bezos declared the richest man with his net worth touching $200 billion, but a relative output comparison throws up many more billionaires from the annals of history who made as much or more.
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Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has amassed a net worth of over $200 billion, according to Forbes and Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the first person to reach this big number. He gained $4.9 billion after Amazon stock went up by two percent on Wednesday.

Bezos has other investments besides Amazon. He owns the aerospace company Blue Origin, the Washington Post and other private investments. However, his nearly 11 percent stake in Amazon makes up over 90 percent of his massive fortune.

Jeff Bezos’s net worth in January was about $115 billion. But the Pandemic fuelled a huge demand for online commerce and Amazon’s stock saw a rapid increase in this time gaining nearly an 80 percent spike. He has added nearly $83 billion in the last several months.

Jeff Bezos arrives at the Statue of Liberty Museum Opening Celebration at Battery Park.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is the second richest, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which puts his net worth at $124 billion. That means he trails Bezos by nearly $75 billion. Mark Zuckerberg is almost a $100 billion behind as his fortune is put at $106 billion.

Who is the richest man in history?

It is mostly the monarchy that can lay claim to untold riches in the past. The present ones now exist on annual income handouts that most seem to be happy to accept in exchange for their graceful presence.

After the monarchs, it were the plutocrats who occupied this position of power and pelf. Merchant bankers, steel, shipping and railway magnets. The astute businessmen of their times who were quick to see an opportunity and make profits out of it.

From the Dutch mariners to Italian bankers and merchants to the British mill owners and adventurers, history has enough examples of how they managed to make money. Our Tech titans may well be studied in future history books as opportunist merchants of their times.

So let us see how the wealthy of yore compare to the wealthy of present (in terms of wealth).

Samuel Williamson, an economist who runs MeasuringWorth, used the “relative output,” method where he calculated the ratio of wealth to gross domestic product. “Rockefeller’s $1.5 billion was about 1.6% of the economy in 1937. Were he to own the same percentage today, his fortune would be almost triple Bezos’,” says Williamson,

Here is a list of the world’s richest people and the worth of their wealth in present terms using Williamson’s method.

$331b

John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937): Oil magnate usually considered the world’s first billionaire

$321b

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919): Sold his steel company to J.P. Morgan for $480 million in 1901

$238b

Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877): Shipping and railroad tycoon who built Grand Central Terminal

$169b

John Jacob Astor (1763-1848): Merchant who invested in New York real estate

$41b

James Brydges (1673-1744): Became the first nonlanded British millionaire in the South Sea Bubble

$53b

John Spencer (d. 1610): Merchant who traded with Spain and Turkey and became lord mayor of London.

$210b

Marcus Licinius Crassus (c. 115 B.C.-53 B.C.): Roman politician-general beat back Spartacus’ slave revolt.

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