It’s always interesting to see how events like the coronavirus pandemic affect personal wealth, and the newest list of Forbes billionaires shows hundreds of the world’s richest people have lost billions of dollars during the recent economic downturn.
The Forbes billionaires list (which precludes the Forbes 400 list that usually comes out in October) was released Tuesday, and it’s shocking to see some of the numbers. These people are still wealthy beyond most people’s wildest dreams, but Forbes found there were 2,095 billionaires in the world as of March 18, and their total net worth has dropped from $8.7 trillion in 2019 to $8 trillion this year.
A record 1,062 billionaires have lost wealth since last year, according to Forbes. That’s over half the list, and 267 dropped off the list entirely from 2019.
“The world’s richest are not immune to the devastating impact of the coronavirus,” Forbes Assistant Managing Editor of Wealth Kerry A. Dolan said. “The drop in the number of billionaires this year reflects the economic impact the pandemic is already having.”
And even the president of the United States isn’t immune. Forbes started crunching the numbers on President Donald Trump’s wealth after the market crash that started in February — and they aren’t pretty.
Forbes found that Trump’s fortune has taken a nosedive from $3.1 billion on March 1 to an estimated $2.1 billion by March 18. So he’s lost 1/3 of his wealth in less than a month, and those losses have dropped him from No. 715 on 2019’s Forbes billionaires list to No. 1,001 in the 2020 iteration.
Looking at past Forbes data shows that Trump’s wealth has taken a hit since becoming president in Nov. 2016. His estimated wealth in March 2016 was $4.5 billion, which fell to $3.7 billion in October the same year, right before he won the presidential election.
His wealth sank to $3.1 billion by Oct. 2017, where it held steady until March of this year. But his real estate licensing business is struggling, with Forbes estimating it was worth $80 million in October 2019 after being valued at $170 million only one year earlier. Trump vowing to not do any foreign business while in office has surely factored into that steep decline.
Here’s a look at the top 5 Forbes billionaires and how they’ve fared financially during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Top 5 Forbes Billionaires
No. 1: Jeff Bezos — $113 billion
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos managed to keep his top spot for the third straight year, but his net worth took an $18 billion hit from last year’s list. This is mostly due to his recent divorce from Mackenzie Bezos, whose $36 billion was good enough for No. 22 on the 2020 list.
No. 2: Bill Gates — $98 billion
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates maintained the No. 2 spot on the 2020 Forbes billionaires list. Gates and his wife Melinda chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has pledged $100 million in funding for treatment of the novel coronavirus. Gates’ wealth slightly increased from $96.5 billion shown on the 2019 iteration.
No. 3: Bernard Arnault & Family — $76 billion
Bernard Arnault, CEO of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, moved up from No. 4 on last year’s list even though his wealth remained largely the same. LVMH has announced it is switching production in three of its perfume factories to manufacture hand sanitizer that is being distributed to French hospitals free of charge during the COVID-19 outbreak.
No. 4: Warren Buffett — $67.5 billion
The “Oracle of Omaha” and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett has shed some wealth since last year. Buffett’s $82.5 billion was good enough to secure No. 3 on 2019’s list. Part of his decline in 2020 can be chalked up to a $3.6 billion donation to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation last year.
No. 5: Larry Ellison — $59 billion
Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison managed to jump from No. 7 on 2019’s list, but his wealth actually fell from $62.7 billion at the same time last year. Ellison is using his cloud computing company to help doctors track data in an effort to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Check out the full list of Forbes billionaires here.
It’s obvious COVID-19 has hammered economies around the world, and while the world’s billionaires are still sitting pretty, it is pretty wild to look at the Forbes billionaires list and see how a single event has knocked out a good chunk of that wealth.