Apr 6, 2021 - Economy & Business

2020 was a great year for billionaires

Coins on top of heads

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A historically bad year for the global economy was also a record-smashing one for the wealthiest people on the planet.

Driving the news: The 35th annual Forbes world billionaires list — out today — had a record number atop its list who largely saw their net worth skyrocket.

What they're worth: $13.1 trillion — up from $8 trillion last year. (Remember: these are estimates.)

Stunning stat: There was roughly one new billionaire every 17 hours, for a total of 493 first-time names on the list.

  • Some crossed the line thanks to very 2020 reasons, like SPACs, cryptocurrency or COVID-related health care.
  • The youngest new self-made billionaire is the 26-year-old founder of Luminar, which went public via SPAC. (Another unsurprisingly: Chamath Palihapitiya, venture capitalist and prolific SPAC sponsor.)
  • The intrigue: China had the most newcomers.

Details: Jeff Bezos is still the world's richest, with a net worth of $177 billion.

  • Yes, but: He's no longer the solo member of the $100b+ club. Bezos is joined by Elon Musk, LVMH's Bernard Arnault and Bill Gates.

Among the notable drop-offs: Kylie Jenner, in part because the size of her makeup brand was half as much as Forbes initially thought. She's still plenty rich.

  • But Kim Kardashian West joined the list for the first time, thanks to her beauty and shapewear line, endorsement deals, and reality TV, Forbes says.

The bottom line: In a year marked with historic economic deterioration, Forbes says 86% of the world's billionaires were richer than they were a year ago.

See the full list.

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