April 16, 2024
Melinda Head

B is For Billionaires

Love ‘em or Leave ‘em

Every year since 1987, Forbes has published a list of the World’s billionaires – those who are deemed to have a net worth of USD $1 billion or more. Criminals, dictators and the like are excluded.

One billion is equivalent to a thousand million. It is written as 1 followed by 9 zeros: 1,000,000,000. For those of you who are nerds, it can also be expressed as ten to the ninth power (109), that’s 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10. Can your calculator handle that?

One billion dollars in $100 notes would weigh 10 tons, or 22,046 lbs. Stacked on top of each other, $1 billion in $100 notes would soar to 3,600 ft. – higher than the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa, Dubai).

In 1987, when Forbes’ Billionaires List was first published, there were 140 of them from 24 countries. Today, there are almost twenty times as many billionaires (2,781) from 32 countries.

Topping the list are 813 billionaires from the U.S., 473 from China and 200 from India, representing more than half (53%) of the World’s Fat Cats.

Who is the richest person in the world?

Drenched in money, Frenchman Bernard Arnault (and his family) has a net worth of $233 billion. He first surfaced as a Billionaire in 1997 with a paltry fortune of $3.1 billion.

After completing a degree in engineering, Bernie worked for Daddy’s construction company, which eventually shifted its focus to real estate. In 1984, a key expansion opportunity ended in a successful bid to acquire fledgling textile-maker Boussac Saint-Freres for 1 euro, which just happened to own the Christian Dior brand. With one high faluting brand acquisition after another, Arnault’s LVMH (which stands for Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) is the World leader in luxury products.

LVMH’s lavish Fashion & Leather Goods business outflanks its Wine & Spirits, Perfumes & Cosmetics, Watches & Jewelry, and Selective Retail (e.g. Sephora) divisions, accounting for almost 50% of LVMH’s 86,153 million EUR revenue in 2023. Asia accounted for 38% of total sales, with the U.S. in second position globally at 25% - combined, they represent almost two-thirds (63%) of the entire LVMH prestige-building empire.

The World’s richest man, 75 year old Bernard Arnault, has 5 children ranging from 26-49 years old – all of whom work in the Family Business (from left: Alexandre (Tiffany), Frederic (TAG Heuer), Jean Arnault (Louis Vuitton), Delphine (Christian Dior) and Antoine (Image & Environment)

“I didn’t want them to start going to big parties. I made them work.” (Bernard Arnault, LVMH)

Personally, I like Volkan Yilmaz, AKA Tanner Leatherstein, who tears apart luxury leather goods to show how much they cost to produce compared to the often highly inflated retail price. Behind closed doors LVMH must hate him.

Check out @tanner.leatherstein to see what he thinks LV bags are actually worth

Who’s the richest person in America?

Officially, at the time of publication, Tesla’s Elon Musk ($195 billion) was the richest man in the U.S., with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos almost tied ($194 billion) – they have constantly traded spots as stock values ebb and flow.

Elon Musk (left) and Jeff Bezos (right) are the 2nd and 3rd richest people in the World, with coffers of nearly equal size. Do they look happy?

University drop-outs Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook, $177 billion) and Larry Ellison (Oracle, $141 billion) round out the Top 5.

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Larry Ellison (Oracle) have a lot of room to grow before challenging the net worths of Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos

You have to scroll down the Forbes List to #15 to find a woman who is a billionaire. No surprise, it’s L’Oreal dynasty’s Francoise Bettencourt Meyers ($99.5 billion). Home grown Alice Walton (Walmart) trails her at #21 ($72.3 billion).

L’Oreal’s Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (left) is the World’s richest woman. Walmart’s Alice Walton (right) is America’s richest woman. Both seem to love oversized glasses, or perhaps they saved their inheritances by recycling their 1960-70’s accessories. LOL

Even if you hate subtitles, this Netflix series about the World’s wealthiest woman and her daughter (Francoise) is well worth watching – as they say, “money can’t buy happiness”.

Who are the new billionaires?

This year, the World was graced with 265 new billionaires, who now make up 10% of the total List.

Most of us have heard that Taylor Swift made the Billionaires List for the first time, just squeaking in at $1.1 billion, sharing company with newcomer Magic Johnson in roughly the same league – let’s call them Baby Billionaires. But, hey, them’s braggin’ rights … if, in your tiny rich bubble, you have anyone to genuinely talk to.

Taylor Swift and Magic Johnson are now officially Baby Billionaires, having squeaked onto the Billionaire List, each with a net worth estimated to be just a hint over $1 billion

Why are we so infatuated with billionaires? Are they happy? Would you really want to be one? What do you think it would be like? What would you do with all that money?

Now that you’ve read today’s blog, why not take what you’ve learned and play today’s matching quiz on your Quizefy app? Many of the answers can be found right here. We publish an on-trend, hint-filled blog at www.quizefy.com every Tuesday, along with a matching quiz in your Quizefy app. We think they’re a great combination and a great way to Strut Your Smart.

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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