World’s billionaires lose money amid Russian sanctions

Pop star Rihanna joined the rich list for the first time, but others saw their fortunes tumble due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The world’s billionaires have taken considerable hits to their fortunes due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic, while the number of billionaires across the globe has seen the biggest drop since the global financial crisis hit.

There are 2688 people that make up the planet’s richest people – 329 less than in 2021 – with Russians experiencing one of the most dramatic impacts to their fortunes, according to Forbes’ latest ranking of the world’s richest people.

Collectively, the rich list is worth $US12.7 trillion ($A16.7 trillion) which has plummeted by $US400 billion ($A528 billion) compared to last year.

Some of the 236 people to join the billionaire’s list for the first time however, include pop star Rihanna and Lord of the Rings directorPeter Jackson.

The crippling economic sanctions that were dished out to Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, which sent the ruble plummeting and the stock market into free fall, have resulted in Russian billionaires’ total wealth drop by $US260 billion ($A343 billion ).

It also resulted in 34 Russian billionaires dropping off the rich list.

Chinese billionaires have also been booted off the list, due to the government’s crackdown on the tech sector, leading to 87 fewer on the rich list.

But it wasn’t all bad news for the world’s wealthiest.

Forbes found more than 1000 billionaires are richer than they were a year ago, while there were 236 newcomers to the list including the first ever from Barbados, Bulgaria, Estonia and Uruguay.

Tesla founder Elon Musk is now the richest man ever, with his net worth soaring to $US300 billion ($A395 billion).

The SpaceX maverick leads the US list, which boasts the biggest number of billionaires with 735 worth a collective $US4.7 trillion ($A6.2 trillion).

China took out the second spot for the most billionaires, with 607 of the world’s richest worth a collective $US2.3 trillion ($A3 trillion).

Musk beat out Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who took out the number two spot for the world’s richest, after his fortune dropped to $US171 billion ($A226 billion) due to a small decline in the company’s share price and donations to charity.

Rounding out the top five were Bernard Arnault, CEO of French company LVMH, which owns brands like Moet and Louis Vuitton, who is worth $US158 billion ($A208 billion), Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at $US129 billion ($A170 billion ) and investor Warren Buffett at $U118 billion ($A156 billion).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has seen a dramatic fall from number five on the 2021 list dropping to 15 this year with a worth of $US67.3 billion ($A89 billion) down from $US97 billion ($A128 billion).

Forbes described 169 “one-year wonders” that dropped out of the list after first appearing in 2021, including Bumble dating app founder Whitney Wolfe Herd and exercise bike company Peloton’s John Foley.

But Millionaires for Humanity, a coalition of rich people who have called for a global wealth tax on the super-rich to tackle inequality, described the Forbes list as “a slap in the face of society”.

The Forbes rich list is a stark reminder of the obscenely unequal world in which we live, said Djaffar Shalchi, a Danish multi-millionaire businessman and founder of the initiative.

“While most people around the globe have struggled to adapt and survive the pandemic, many having lost their jobs, plunged deeper into poverty, those on the Forbes rich list have been able to sit back and watch their wealth soar,” he said.

“It is an affront to humanity, an insult to the claim that we are all in this together, and a slap in the face to those of us who believe that we share this planet and its resources equally.

“The time for a wealth tax on people like me is long overdue. Inequality is bad for everyone. Even in the US we are looking at the prospect of President Biden introducing a billionaire tax. This would be an important step in the right direction.”

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