Jeff Bezos becomes the richest person in modern history, topping $150 billion


Jeff Bezos is the richest person in modern history.

The Inc. founder’s net worth broke $150-billion Monday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s about $55 billion more than Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person.

Bezos, 54, has now topped Gates in inflation-adjusted terms. The $100-billion mark that Gates hit briefly in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom would be worth about $149 billion in today’s dollars. That makes the Amazon chief executive richer than anyone else on Earth since at least 1982, when Forbes published its inaugural wealth ranking.

Bezos crossed the threshold just as Amazon prepared to kick off its 36-hour summer sales event, Prime Day.


But the Prime Day sale got off to a rocky start as glitches struck Amazon’s website and mobile app. Shares of the company, which had climbed to a record $1,841.95 earlier Monday, pared gains on the news, closing up 0.5% at $1,822.49. Bezos’ stay above $150 billion may be short-lived. Amazon shares slipped below $1,800 in extended trading after Netflix Inc. posted disappointing results, rattling tech investors.

Bezos’ net worth has soared by $52 billion this year, which is more than the entire fortune of Mukesh Ambani, the newly crowned richest person in Asia. It also puts Bezos’ personal fortune within spitting distance of the Walton family’s $151.5 billion; the Waltons are the world’s richest dynasty.

“It’s hard to even put it in perspective,” said Michael Cole, chief executive of Cresset Family Office. “It’s such a staggering number.”

A Federal Reserve report found the top 1% of U.S. families controlled 38.6% of wealth in the United States in 2016, compared with 22.8% held by the bottom 90%. Last year, Oxfam International found that more than 80% of earnings went to the top 1% of the world population.

Behind Bezos on the Bloomberg index is Gates, with a $95.5-billion fortune, followed by Warren Buffett with $83 billion.

Gates would have had a net worth of more than $150 billion if he’d held onto assets that he has given away, largely to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has donated almost 700 million Microsoft shares and $2.9 billion of cash and other assets since 1996, according to an analysis of his publicly disclosed giving.

Carville and Metcalf write for Bloomberg.


2:15 p.m.: This article was updated to include Prime Day glitches and Amazon’s stock movement.

This article was originally published at 11:50 a.m.