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1 Man You've Never Heard of Who's Richer Than Warren Buffett

Ask anyone who the world's richest person is, and you'll likely get a response of Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, or Warren Buffett. It turns out those are Nos. 1, 2, and 4, and the person ranking third will likely surprise you.

Buffett has a fortune hovering around $59 billion according to the latest estimates, and the mogul of Mexico, Carlos Slim, is worth an estimated $68.9 billion. Yet the man splitting the two is Amancio Ortega, whose net worth is said to be at $65.4 billion.

To put that in perspective, that's more than the reported fortunes of Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, combined ($63 billion):

Who is Amancio Ortega?
An article in Fortune once noted that Ortega is "difficult to know, impossible to interview, and incredibly secretive," so there's good reason that he's not a household name like some of the others who are among the richest people in the world. 

Yet interestingly enough, the clothing company he founded and still owns nearly 60% of is actually the world's largest clothing company. So while he may not be well-known, you may be wearing one of this products.

Source: Paco Seoane.

Ortega is Spain's wealthiest man, and he founded Inditex, which is the parent company of retailer Zara, almost 40 years ago. He began his career as a clothing manufacturer in the 1960s and early 1970s as he steadily grew his operation to include multiple factories. Then in 1975, the first Zara store was opened, and Ortega's empire has been growing ever since.

Yet despite the massive fortune he accumulated over the last five decades, Ortega has been notoriously content with avoiding the public spotlight, and the first photograph of him wasn't published until 1999.

The clothing empire
Inditex now has 6,249 stores across the globe, with more than 1,800 from its flagship Zara. It had 47 stores in the U.S at the end of October last year. In total, its empire spans more than 85 countries. In 2012, it had more than 120,000 employees and 15.9 billion euros (roughly $21.5 billion) in sales. Through the first nine months of 2013, it has seen sales grow by 8% after factoring out currency impacts. 

Source: Aurelijus Valeiša.

The company is said to have two simple rules: Ensure customers get what they want, and they get it fast. This mantra has led to astounding growth, as sales have grown on average by 11% annually since 2008. Even more astonishing is the reality that from 2009 to 2012, it averaged more than one store opening each day, opening 1,745 stores in 1,461 days.

This unearthly growth and success has led to the massive fortune that Ortega has amassed, yet it has been reported that he has remained modest, as he eats in the company's cafeteria and even wears the same thing to work each day. 

Unfortunately, investment advice and business tips from Ortega are few and far between, but if we can learn anything from him, it's that massive fortune doesn't always have to mean massive fame, and seeking to satisfy the customer first is always a great place to start.

One billionaire who is happy to share
While Oretga has shunned the spotlight, Warren Buffett has embraced it. In fact, while he has made billions through his investing, he wants you to be able to invest like him. Through the years, Buffett has offered up investing tips to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. Now you can tap into the best of Warren Buffett's wisdom in a new special report from The Motley Fool. Click here now for a free copy of this invaluable report.

Read/Post Comments (30) | Recommend This Article (108)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2014, at 11:57 PM, nooneashole wrote:

    More than 47 stores in the US? Does that mean 48 stores in the US? Who writes this crap?

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 12:26 AM, Luvs2eat wrote:

    nooneashole wrote:

    "More than 47 stores in the US? Does that mean 48 stores in the US? Who writes this crap?"

    I agree with you...

    Maybe the writer is not sure and is just guessing? (It ain't news if it's hearsay!) Who needs credibility when propagandizing the news these days?

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 12:41 AM, ryanchandler25 wrote:

    @Luv2eat, Where would you ever get the idea that the MF is a news organization?

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 1:25 AM, pkan51 wrote:

    Maybe 47 stores for sure and some are under constrictions?

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 1:39 AM, billsmith1900 wrote:

    I don't own any Zara clothes and will never own any Zara clothes. I think he probably owns a drug cartel.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 2:22 AM, tristinstone wrote:

    Ortega is my wifes maiden name. I wonder if they could be?????? never know?

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 2:35 AM, distantwinds wrote:

    Zara stores are a lot around in Germany's cities.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 3:18 AM, sadala wrote:

    i believe there are are more people with alot of moey than that of Bill Gates but they have remained secretive

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 3:52 AM, JadeP wrote:

    Most billionaires should take cue from this man. He’s notably humble, known as well to eat his lunch in the company of his employees in the cafeteria! No obnoxious yachts or tight young trophy wife for him! “Customer First” is a principle that will never fail any business.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 6:28 AM, MarieMarie123 wrote:

    Would somebody please explain why the Rothschilds never show up on the list of the world's richest people? They have more money than ANY of these guys--and yet somehow they manage to stay anonymous.

    And no, I don't think that in their case, it's because they're humble...

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 7:34 AM, DumbDude wrote:

    No no no; the richest man is my boyfriend Robert Mugabe; he has trilllions of dollars; Zim dollars that is!!!

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 8:03 AM, alan0101 wrote:

    Another silly article from the Motley Idiot. Of course I know who this guy is, what kind of readers do you think you have? Don't answer that one, to judge by the comments there are many cretins out there.

    The rest of the article is fluff just like 90% of what you now put out. Time to focus and return to much higher standards!

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 8:14 AM, dreamer2 wrote:

    Yes, the Rothschilds are probably the richest in the world with a net worth of about 400 billion. So these guys listed here don't even compare.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 8:31 AM, taintedwisp wrote:

    Hes also well known to be the leader of the largest drug cartel in europe.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 9:06 AM, rkumar wrote:

    one more person is in rich list, but you forget to mention that, the person is an INDIAN, find out

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 9:08 AM, rkumar wrote:

    but now a days Rothschilds is begging in BANGKOK street as his whole EMPIRE is taken by DAWOOD IBRAHIM

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 9:31 AM, DrG wrote:

    So how much does he give to charity? This is the real measure of the man, not how many Lamboghinis he has.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 9:34 AM, ellehomez11 wrote:

    Propaganda is the fool's food...I am curious how many people cannot curb their curiosity, hopefulness and actually clicked on the above link to "discover the stock":

    "One of the world's greatest stock pickers (owner of two 35+ baggers, four 20+ baggers, and two 10+ baggers -- all in the last 12 years) is on a new mission... and it begins with a sizable investment in one stock on Thursday, Jan. 30." WHAT SAY YOU PATRICK???

    Naturally, Patrick Morris thinks he is actual wanna-be...grabbing at straws and using "tricks-of-the-trade" to entice an audience instead of utilizing genuine cleverness to deserve deep respect and a fulfilled audience, who are seeking truth and hope to be guided by something more than what is already out there...a world of scammers and cheats.

    Words of advise Patrick: these are the days of change. Real change. People want "real", "truth" and advise that leads to a path of fulfillment.

    Quit wasting your energy of sneaky cleverness and YOU INVEST in genuine cleverness.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 10:31 AM, badi wrote:

    The issue here is, those who don't have and they haven't really worked hard and smarter will always talk too much about those that, are successful in their endeavor, and have worked smarter.

    So some of you taking bad about the successful guys, tell us what you have achieved anyway...! Haaaaaa.

    There are only two type of persons in the world.

    1) Those that, talk alot, do alot of nothing, complain about others, pessimistic, scared of risks, not happy when other succeed, and are scared of succeed it's self, just wait for good things to come/drop from the sky.


    2) Those that, act more than talk, deliver, work smart, optimistic, happy when others succeed cause they know that every dog has it's luck, they are go geters, they are result oriented, rist takers, mostly are blood group O+s.

    You are either in 1) or 2) nothing in between. What a world Haaaaaaa!

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 10:43 AM, IBDvalueinvestin wrote:

    The Rothschild have more money then all of the people on the list combined that is why they are not on the list. The Rothschild's control $500 Trillion in total assets.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 2:20 PM, jhiggins80 wrote:

    Being rich has it's obvious advantages, However one can not be really successful unless he or her has old friends that loved him or her before they became rich and even more important are these people kind and and are they happy? If you have these traits at least then you are really rich.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 4:12 PM, JePonce wrote:

    It does not matter.

    It is enough to know that if he is a Democrat the Left will paint him as an honest, ethical socially in tune humanitarian, like Pelosi and Reid.

    If he is a Republican the Left will paint him as an evil greedy troll that hate the homeless, the poor, the children and the elderly.

    The real difference is Democrats solution to poverty is to rob Peter to pay Paul, and the Republican solution is to create private sector jobs, while a private sector still exists.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 4:33 PM, joeshmoe234567 wrote:

    i saw him in a tv ad..makes good tacos

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 6:01 PM, kevva wrote:

    A) I first heard of Mr. Ortega in the late 80's. this is nothing new to me.

    B) I clicked onto this srticle inhopes of getting more detailed information on business practices and investments in the business.

    C) This is the first and last time I will click into this disappointing Fool's articles.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 12:55 AM, DevonShire123 wrote:

    The world's richest people are not even on this list, because you are not meant to know who they are. Plus they are not men, they are families--or corporate demigods. They are the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds (the Morgans and Warburgs are in there, too). They literally own all the money in the world--even the cash in your pocket. The only countries whose money doesn't belong to them are Syria, Iran, and North Korea. So guess who we will be "liberating" in the next year or two.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 6:14 AM, rickext wrote:

    To me it doesnt matter how many stores they have what matters is what they are doing with their profits! 60billion 70 billion amazing ! All these ppl have do do is take even 1 billion each and put it somewhere and it could help alot of ppl . Starving children in our world ! If all the wealthy ppl just donated to 1 cause a small % they could do alot of good !

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 6:54 AM, mdp76 wrote:

    His clothing stores are okay, but I most enjoy his salsa and taco shells.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 12:07 PM, Hecklrkosh wrote:

    I just a raise to $54,000 per/year. ...smh....

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 2:37 PM, it23 wrote:

    I am always amazed the assumptions on these "Richest" list. They are the richest owners of publicly traded companies. There are far more rich people who have private wealth that have companies with a P.O. box somewhere for tax purposes.

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2014, at 8:35 PM, slinkyhendrix22 wrote:

    Who are all these judgmental people?

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Patrick Morris

After a few stints in banking and corporate finance, Patrick joined the Motley Fool as a writer covering the financial sector. He's scaled back his everyday writing a bit, but he's always happy to opine on the latest headline news surrounding Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett and all things personal finance.

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