With 57 billion dollars net worth Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, has recovered his spot at the top of the US money heap, displacing investor Warren Buffett as America’s richest person, Forbes magazine’s latest list reveals.
According to Forbes, whose list was published late Wednesday, the golden 400 have 1.3 billion dollars net worth or more. However, the assembled net worth of the richest Americans rose by only 2%, or $30 billion, to $1.57 trillion this year. The average net worth of Forbes 400 members is $3.9 billion.
Forbes said that rising oil and dizzy art prices fuelled the entry of 31 new members into the ultra-rich club and the return of eight previous members.
Newcomers ranged from fertilizer tycoon Alexander Rovt to Patron tequila founder John Paul DeJoria and Norman Braman, the car dealer and art collector. A notable arrival was Mark Zuckerberg, 24, founder of the social networking site Facebook. Forbes estimates his worth at 1.5 billion dollars.
Meanwhile, turmoil on the stock and housing markets saw 33 others drop off the list, including the former head of the troubled insurance giant AIG, Maurice Greenberg, and a former head of the online auction site eBay, Margaret Whitman.
Biggest gainers were led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who took eighth place with 20 billion dollars worth after a transaction put a new value on his Bloomberg media and financial data network.
The biggest loser was casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, whose fortune fell 13 billion dollars over 12 months (the equivalent to 1.5 million dollars an hour!!!) although he still has 15 billion dollars and occupies 15th place.
About two thirds of the list are self-made billionaires and just over 10 percent are women (There are 42 women on the list with an average net worth of $4.2 billion), led by television star Oprah Winfrey whose fortune rose 200 million dollars to 2.7 billion dollars.
Forbes cautioned that the list does not take into account the most recent setbacks on the stock market. See the complete list here.