Comeback Year For The Wealthy: Elon Musk Leads World’s Richest to $1.5 Tn Wealth Gain in 2023

It was a comeback year for the world’s wealthiest. The combined net worth of the 500 richest people surged by $1.5 trillion in 2023, fully rebounding from the $1.4 trillion lost the year prior, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Once again, their fortunes were closely correlated to the performance of tech stocks, which rose to fresh records this year despite recession fears, lingering inflation, lofty interest rates, and geopolitical turmoil. Tech billionaires saw their wealth grow by 48% or $658 billion, propelled by intense hype around artificial intelligence. No one did better than Elon Musk, who recaptured the title of world’s richest person from French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault. The Tesla Inc. chief executive officer netted an additional $95.4 billion through Thursday’s close, bolstered by the success of Tesla and SpaceX, after losing $138 billion in 2022. His net worth is now more than $50 billion above Arnault’s after a global slowdown in demand for luxury goods dented shares of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE.

Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos added more than $70 billion to his wallet this year and is now neck-and-neck with Arnault for second place, while Meta Platforms Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune jumped by more than $80 billion.

Looking Ahead

What does the world hold in store for the wealthiest people in 2024? While it’s impossible to know for sure — few would have foreseen such a large rebound this year — here are some of the names to watch:

Mark Cuban

Cuban, 65, has a knack for getting out at the right time, selling his radio-streaming website Broadcast.com shortly before the dot-com bubble burst. He purchased the Dallas Mavericks in 2000 for $285 million, winning three division titles, two conference championships and an NBA championship before flipping them to Adelson for $3.5 billion. (He’ll keep a minority stake.) Whether this goes down as another well-timed Cuban sale remains to be seen. His fortune climbed to $6.8 billion this year.

Rupert Murdoch

The 92-year-old News Corp. founder has officially retired, ceding control to his son, Lachlan. It’s set to be a rocky year for the heir as candidates including Joe Biden and Donald Trump vie for the presidency again. Fox Corp. already settled with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million after the company accused the network of airing false claims that it rigged the vote against Trump. Fox still faces another lawsuit by Smartmatic Corp. in a similar case. The controversy hasn’t dented Rupert Murdoch’s net worth, which rose to $8.9 billion in 2023.

Masayoshi Son

The Japanese investor made a big bet on WeWork, which officially crumpled in 2023, and people are questioning his judgment after he continued to pour money into Adam Neumann’s remote-work business even after it was clearly struggling. The SoftBank Group Corp. founder, 66, is likely to struggle further as deals dry up. But he’s pulled himself out of deeper holes before, climbing back after losing tens of billions of dollars in the dot-com crash. Son’s wealth fell to $11.4 billion this year.

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao

In many ways it was a rough year for the 46-year-old founder of Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange. In November, CZ and Binance pleaded guilty to money laundering and US sanctions violations. He agreed to step down as CEO and personally pay a $50 million fine in addition to the $4.3 billion Binance will have to fork over. Still, the rebound in crypto boosted CZ’s wealth by nearly $25 billion this year, even as he may be headed to jail in 2024. 

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