38 Incredible Facts About the World’s Richest People

Everybody wants to be rich. So rich, in fact, that someday you too may end up included in a list like this.

Feb 16, 2014 at 3:11PM


I want to be rich. So do you.

The trappings of wealth are spectacular. A resplendent mansion in the Hamptons. A ski chateau in Switzerland. Gulfstream jets to get you to and from. Ferraris and Bentleys awaiting you on either side.

To further whet your appetite, I've drawn up the following list of 38 incredible facts about rich people.

  1. If you add up the net worth of every person on the planet, it equates to $135.5 trillion.
  2. On a per capita basis, that's roughly $19,000 per person, or roughly equivalent to the value of a used 2013 Honda Accord with 20,000 miles on it.
  3. All told, there are an estimated 13.8 million households in the world today that are worth at least $1 million.
  4. This equates to roughly 0.9% of the global population. So if you want to join the 1%, you'd better become a millionaire.
  5. The most popular country for millionaires to live in is the United States, with 5.8 million households that are worth at least $1 million.
  6. Japan comes in second with 1.5 million millionaire households.
  7. And China rounds out the top three, with 1.3 million.
  8. The country with the highest density of millionaires is Qatar, where 143 out of every 1,000 households had private wealth of at least $1 million.
  9. Switzerland is second, with 116 out of every 1,000 households.
  10. And Kuwait comes in a close third, with 115 out of every 1,000 households.
  11. By comparison, only 49 out of 1,000 households in the United States are worth at least $1 million.
  12. A little disappointed about that? Try this on for size: There are an estimated 3,016 households in the United States with more than $100 million in private financial wealth!
  13. The United Kingdom is second, with 1,001 "ultra-high-net-worth" households.
  14. And China is third, with 851 of these ridiculously rich households.
  15. The richest living person is Bill Gates, who, along with Paul Allen, founded Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)in 1975.
  16. According to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, Gates' total net worth is $77.8 billion, roughly a fifth of which is tied up in Microsoft stock.
  17. That's nearly six times the 2012 GDP of Iceland!
  18. On Valentine's Day alone, Gates' net worth increased an estimated $360 million.
  19. The second richest person is Carlos Slim, a Mexican business tycoon worth an estimated $68.4 billion.
  20. Third is Amancio Ortega, a Spaniard who owns 59% of the world's largest clothing retailer. He's said to be worth $61.6 billion.
  21. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway(NYSE:BRK-A), who comes in fourth on the list with a private fortune of $59 billion.
  22. Virtually all of the Oracle of Omaha's wealth derives from his 20% stake in Berkshire Hathaway, a once-faltering textile company that he transformed into one of the greatest wealth-generating vehicles of all time.
  23. Meanwhile, two of the four Koch brothers are worth a combined $99.4 billion.
  24. Essentially all of the Koch brothers' wealth is tied up in Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in America, after only Cargill.
  25. And the four children of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), are worth an astounding $143.1 billion.
  26. Through Walton Enterprises, a private corporation established by Sam and his wife, Helen, the four Waltons own an astounding 49.75% of Wal-Mart's outstanding shares.
  27. These all might seem like a lot, and they are, but at the time of John D. Rockefeller's death in 1937, he was worth the equivalent of $340 billion in today's dollars.
  28. Henry Ford wasn't far behind, with an inflation-adjusted net worth of $199 billion at the time of his death in 1947.
  29. In terms of the global distribution of wealth, $43.3 trillion of the $135.5 trillion is based in North America.
  30. That equates to 32% of the total, even though only 5% of the population lives here.
  31. Western Europe is second, with $35.8 trillion in private wealth, or 26% of the total.
  32. And Asia, excluding Japan, is third, with $28 trillion in total private wealth, or 21% of the total.
  33. Japan, by the way, has a total of $17.2 trillion in private wealth.
  34. Going forward, this distribution is going to change considerably because developing countries are growing so much faster than developed countries like the United States, Great Britain, and Japan.
  35. Between now and 2017, private wealth in North America is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 2.1%.
  36. Thanks to some of the worst demographics in the world, Japan's will only increase at a compound annual growth rate of 1.1%.
  37. By comparison, the Asia-Pacific region (again, excluding Japan) is expected to see its aggregate private wealth rocket higher at a compound annual growth rate of 11.4%.
  38. If these predictions turn out to be true, Asia will surpass North America as the world's richest region by 2017.

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John Maxfield has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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