Forbes: The Richest People in the World 2011

This is Forbes' 25th year of tracking global wealth and it was one to remember. The 2011 Billionaires List breaks two records: total number of listees (1,210) and combined wealth ($4.5 trillion). This horde surpasses the gross domestic product of Germany, one of only six nations to have fewer billionaires this year. BRICs led the way: Brazil, Russia, India and China produced 108 of the 214 new names. These four nations are home to one-in-four members, up from one-in-ten five years ago. Before this year, only the U.S. had ever produced more than 100 billionaires. China now has 115 and Russia 101.

Atop the heap is Mexico's Carlos Slim Helu, who added $20.5 billion to his fortune, more than any other billionaire. The telecom mogul, who gets 62% of his fortune from America Movil, is now worth $74 billion and has pulled far ahead of his two closest rivals. Bill Gates, No. 2, and Warren Buffett, No. 3, both added a more modest $3 billion to their piles and are now worth $56 billion and $50 billion, respectively. Gates, who now gets 70% of his fortune from investments outside of Microsoft, has actually been investing in the Mexican stock market and has holdings in Mexican Coke bottler Femsa and Grupo Televisa.[Scroll down to the see list of World's 10 Richest.]

While nearly all emerging markets showed solid gains, wealth creation is moving at an especially breakneck speed in Asia-Pacific. The region now has a record 332 billionaires, up from 234 a year ago and 130 at the depth of the financial crisis in 2009. Sizzling stock markets are behind the surge. Three-fourths of Asia's 105 newcomers get the bulk of their fortunes from stakes in publicly traded companies, 25 of which have been public only since the start of 2010.

America's wealthiest still dominate the global ranks, but the U.S. is losing its grip. One-in-three billionaires is an American, down from nearly one-out-of-two a decade ago. It has 10 more than last year but 56 fewer than its 2008 peak. The U.S. is adding new billionaires at a much slower pace; just 6% of its 413 billionaires are new this year compared with 47% of China's and 30% of Russia's.

Still there are plenty of inspiring newcomers who figured out clever ways to get rich. The most obvious example is the success of Facebook, whose soaring valuation over the past couple of years -- based on the most recent institutional round the company is worth $50 billion -- has spawned six billionaires. Leading the group is Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose fortune jumped 238% to $13.5 billion in the past year. Also joining him in the world ranks are his co-founders Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz, its first president Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network) and the Russian Internet investor Yuri Milner. Moskovitz, 26, is eight days younger than his former college roommate Zuckerberg, making him the world's youngest billionaire.

The frenzy among big investors for all things social pushed up private market values of online gaming outfit Zynga and online group-buying site Groupon, creating two more new billionaires, Mark Pincus (who taught people to farm on Facebook) and Eric Lefkofsky (who was Groupon's lead investor).

Other notable American newcomers include Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, the co-founders of Forever21, and Chris Cline, who owns three billion tons of coal reserves, mostly in Illinois.

Why do we spend so much time counting other people's money? Because these moguls have the power to shape our world. Telecom billionaire turned prime minister Najib Mikati is keeping Lebanon's government together. Ernesto Bertarelli, who lost the America's Cup to Larry Ellison last year, is now focusing on saving the oceans from mass extinction. Gates and Buffett have already traveled to three continents working to change giving practices among the ultra-rich.

Where their inspiration leads, we will follow.

[Story and list of 10 Richest continues below.]
The 10 Richest People in the World
(Click on name to see full profile.)

No. 1: Carlos Slim Helú & family
$74 billion | Telecom | Mexico

No. 2: Bill Gates
$56 billion | Microsoft | U.S.

No. 3: Warren Buffett
$50 billion | Berkshire Hathaway| U.S.

No. 4: Bernard Arnault
$41 billion | LVMH | France

No. 5: Larry Ellison
$39.5 billion | Oracle | U.S.

No. 6: Lakshmi Mittal
$31.1 billion | Steel | India

No. 7: Amancio Ortega
$31 billion | Zara | Spain

No. 8: Eike Batista
$30 billion | Mining, Oil | Brazil

No. 9: Mukesh Ambani
$27 billion | Petrochemicals | India

No. 10: Christy Walton & family
$26.5 billion | Wal-Mart | U.S.

Click here to see the full list of The Richest People in the World.

A note on methodology:
More than 50 reporters in 13 countries worked on compiling the list this year, valuing individuals' public holdings, private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash. Net worths were locked in using stock prices and exchange rates from Feb. 14.

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audrey godette

wrong. The richest person on the face of this planet is a woman. The recipient of the major part of Edwin Ronald Nixon's estate. It is in excess of 14.6 Trillion dollars. Hush hush is all you can hear trying best not for the public to find out that the recipient is a black woman living in the US. The Wellcome Foundation Wellcome Trust is a good contact. Ask Sir Mark Walport who this person is.

July 17 2012 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to audrey godette's comment

I met N. H. M. today. She is a beautiful person. God bless her

August 07 2014 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
audrey godette

wrong. The richest person on the face of this planet is a woman. The recipient of the major part of Edwin Ronald Nixon's estate. It is in excess of 14.6 Trillion dollars. Hush hush is all you can hear trying best not for the public to find out that the recipient is a black woman living in the US.

July 17 2012 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tia Wiliams

I can't imagine having that much money, the popularity and a lifestyle that is different from everyone else's. I bet they don't see the family often due to jealousy and greed. I think that that is so sad. If those people want to acquire the same, they need to work for it. How many of those people would give these rich people money if the shoe were on the other foot.

May 22 2012 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The poverty of the rich is evident to the poor.....................GOD.

April 28 2012 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gee that's odd. You forgot to include the person/family that has more than 1000 times more that all the people you listed...COMBINED! Let me give you a hint to perhaps adjust your credibility Rothschilds: 500 trillion!

November 15 2011 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stephen, daniell and douthitmmpp are right, if people like YOU expected only to get handouts because THEY couldn't be hard working then the average milk would be 300 dollors, economics doesn't work that way. there is a balance to everything. plus bill gates is already giving money to charity.... do YOU.. ? O_o

October 29 2011 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Albert Halili

The solution to world poverty is selflessness. specially selflessness of the filthy stinking rich people. world population is roughly almost 7 billion. Carlos Slim Helú of mexico is worth $74B. if he gave out $2M to each and every human being in this planet then poverty will no longer be an issue; and he still has $60B left. more than Bill Gates who has $56B. so if you're reading this Mr. Helu.. I'm waiting for my $2M...don't be selfish.

September 18 2011 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to John Albert Halili's comment