Jeff Bezos Is Once Again The Richest Person In the World.
Jeff Bezos is again the world’s richest person, reclaiming the top spot after losing it to fashion tycoon Bernard Arnault at the end of July. Although Amazon stock fell by 1.3% on Wednesday, lowering Bezos’ net worth by $1.3 billion, shares of Arnault’s luxury conglomerate LVMH dropped by 5.2% in European trading, slashing the Frenchman’s fortune by $9.9 billion.
Amazon stock closed at $3,201.22 per share, continuing to slump after the company posted disappointing quarterly earnings on July 30; prior to that, shares were trading at more than $3,600 apiece. Still, at the close of markets on Wednesday, Bezos’ net worth was an estimated $186.1 billion, edging out Arnault’s estimated $185 billion. Elon Musk is just $3.8 billion behind, in third place, after shares in Tesla gained 3.5%, pushing the Tesla CEO’s net worth to an estimated $181.2 billion.
After founding Amazon and leading it for nearly three decades, Bezos stepped down as CEO last month while staying on as the company’s executive chairman. He has cashed out $6.6 billion worth of Amazon stock this year, but has not sold any shares since the end of his CEO tenure. Bezos donated about $51 million worth of stock to undisclosed charitable recipients earlier this month; that might have gone to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, to which he made a $200 million pledge in July. A spokesperson for Amazon had not replied to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Bezos owns just over 10% of the e-commerce and cloud computing giant. In addition to his Amazon stake, which makes up an estimated 88% of his fortune, he also owns space exploration and rocket firm Blue Origin, the Washington Post, a sizable real estate empire and an estimated $19 billion in other investments, fueled by the $27 billion (pre-tax) worth of Amazon shares he’s sold since 1998.
Arnault’s wealth, meanwhile, lies primarily in his 47% stake in LVMH, the firm behind dozens of brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Tiffany & Co. He also holds a 6% share of French retail company Carrefour and 2% of luxury manufacturer Hermès, whose shares also fell on Wednesday. European markets dipped this week due to surging coronavirus cases, while luxury stocks were doubly impacted by a slowdown of consumption in China, where President Xi Jinping called for curbs on excessive incomes earlier in the week, according to a CNBC translation of Chinese state media.
The return to No. 1 marks Bezos’ latest chapter of jostling atop the billionaire leaderboard. Throughout May and June, he and Arnault went back and forth, with Bezos emerging on top and holding his spot for 50 days. In January, Bezos prevailed in a similar competition with Musk. Bezos briefly hit a net worth of $200 billion in April and again in July, when Amazon stock reached an all-time high.
Bezos has had an eventful year, notably blasting into outer space last month aboard Blue Origin’s first manned flight. Upon returning to Earth, he announced a new philanthropic initiative that would award $100 million to leaders who demonstrate “courage and civility.”