Forbes billionaire list: Trump loses $1bn as elite club gets 233 new members

•Post-US election stock market boom and rise in oil price swells numbers
•Bill Gates still world’s richest man followed by Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos
•Mike Ashley and Sir Philip Green tumble down the rankings

US president Donald Trump’s fortune has fallen by about $1bn to $3.5bn over the past year, as measured by Forbes magazine in its annual list of the world’s billionaires.

However, overall it has been a good 12 months for the world’s wealthiest individuals, with a record 233 moving into the billionaire bracket, taking the global number of people with nine-zero fortunes to 2,043 – the most in the 31-year history of the list.

The billionaires in Forbes’ list are worth a combined $7.67tn (£6.18tn) – more than three times the UK’s annual gross domestic product (GDP).

Kerry Dolan, co-editor of the Forbes billionaires list, published on Monday, said the gains are mostly the result of booming stock markets and the rising price of oil over the past 12 months.

Number of billionaires

Global markets have hit record highs due to the so-called “Trump bump” following Trump’s election, with the Dow Jones soaring above 20,000 points for the first time and the UK’s FTSE 100 closing at a record 7,415 points last week.

The fall in Trump’s net worth is due to a drop in the value of office space in Midtown Manhattan, where the president owns about 10 buildings. Forbes said Trump had fallen from the world’s 324th-richest person to 544th.

“Forty percent of Donald Trump’s fortune is tied up in Trump Tower and eight buildings within one mile of it,” Forbes said. “Lately, the neighbourhood has been struggling (relatively speaking).”

Trump has refused to publish his tax returns to show the true scale of his wealth, but during the campaign he claimed he was worth “in excess of $10bn”.

Dolan said that in previous years the real estate tycoon had challenged Forbes for underestimating his fortune. “We contact everyone we can to give them the opportunity for feedback. Over the last 31 years we have been compiling this list Trump has given us a lot of feedback, believe me, ‘You guys are too low I am worth far more than you say’,” she said. “He didn’t call back to dispute our estimate. I would hope that running the country is more important to him right now than Forbes’s value of his net worth.”

The richest person in the world remains Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who saw his fortune grow by $11bn to $86bn. He is followed by investor Warren Buffett, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who was this year’s biggest gainer with a $27.6bn increase in his fortune to $72.8bn.

Top 10 richest

The US accounts for the biggest population of billionaires with 565, up 25 on last year. But China is catching up with 319 billionaires, and a further 68 if Hong Kong and Macau are included. Germany is third with 114 billionaires.

The number of UK billionaires increased from 50 to 54, with new entrants including Philip Day, the man behind Edinburgh Woollen Mill, and Simon Nixon, the co-founder of moneysupermarket.com.

The richest people in the UK are the Hinduja family, who control a conglomerate of businesses including cars and banks and are worth $15.4bn. Property and internet investors David and Simon Reuben come second with a $15.3bn fortune. The third richest, and among the biggest gainer, is Jim Ratcliffe the founder and chairman of chemicals group Ineos.

UK richest

Among the biggest British losers is Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley whose fortune dropped by 25% to $2.6bn. His wealth, which is largely held in Sports Direct shares, has roughly halved over the past two years as shares collapsed following the Guardian exposé of “Victorian workhouse”-style conditions in its distribution warehouses.

Sir Philip Green and his wife, Tina, the owners of Arcadia, which owns Topshop and once owned BHS, also lost just over $1bn, with their fortune slumping to $4.8bn. They fell more than 100 places to 339th.

Oxfam said the creation of so many new billionaires in one year was a sign of “economic sickness rather than health”.

“Our warped economic model leads to more unequal societies that trap millions of people in poverty - it allows an elite group to accrue extreme wealth while one in nine people go to bed hungry every night,” Max Lawson, Oxfam’s head of inequality policy, said. “We need to build a more human economy where the super-rich pay their fair share of tax, workers earn a living wage, and governments invest in decent healthcare and education to give everyone a good start in life.”

The number of women on the list increased to 227, from 202 in 2016. A record 56 of the women are self-made billionaires – the highest ever. All but one of the 15 newly self-made female billionaires came from the Asia-Pacfic region, including Vietnam’s first self-made female billionaire Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao who took her budget airline VietJet Air public last month.

Yoshiko Shinohara, who started her temp agency in her one-bedroom Tokyo apartment, became Japan’s first self-made female billionaire. She enters the list due to a 50% surge in the stock price of her company Temp Holdings, which is designed to get more women into the workforce.

The richest woman on the list is France’s Liliane Bettencourt, who inherited a stake in L’Oreal from her father. She’s worth $39.5bn.

There are just 10 black people on the list, a drop of two from last year. The richest black person is Nigerian cement tycoon Aliko Dangote with an estimated fortune of $12.2bn. There are only three black women on the list, including Oprah Winfrey who has a $3bn fortune.

Contributor

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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