Forbes’ rich list gains $2 trillion as Taylor Swift and Sam Altman become billionaires

Taylor Swift
New names on Forbes' list of billionaires include pop star Taylor Swift - Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Billionaires are getting richer by the day, according to Forbes’ annual ranking of the planet’s wealthiest people, with the group now worth a collective $14.2 trillion (£11.3bn).

There are now a record 2,781 people with fortunes above $1bn, according to the US publisher, which has produced an annual list of the world’s billionaires since 1987.

There were 265 newcomers to Forbes’ 2024 list, with new names on the ranking including pop star Taylor Swift, fashion designer Christian Louboutin and Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT-developer OpenAI.

Collectively, the planet’s billionaires gained $2 trillion between them in 2023.

However, there appears to be a new class system emerging even within the world’s 1pc. A record 14 people now have fortunes of $100bn or more and Forbes said the twenty wealthiest people collectively gained $700bn between them last year. The top 0.5pc of the world’s billionaires now hold 14pc of all the group’s wealth.

Bernard Arnault, the French luxury magnate who runs LVMH, topped the ranking for the second year in a row with an estimated fortune of $233bn.

Bernard Arnault
Bernard Arnault, who runs LVMH, topped the ranking for the second year in a row - Stephanie Lecocq/Reuters

Elon Musk was second, with a net worth of $195bn, followed by Jeff Bezos, $194bn, and Mark Zuckerberg, $177bn.

The US remains home to the most billionaires, followed by China. The world’s second biggest economy retained this position despite the fact 125 Chinese billionaires fell off the list last year. Weak consumer spending and a property bubble collapse helped wipe out some $300bn in Chinese wealth.

America has now doubled its lead on China as its number of ultra-rich rose. The US is now home to 813 billionaires worth a total of $5.7 trillion, compared to China’s 406 billionaires worth $1.3 trillion.

Britain is home to 55 billionaires. The youngest is Gymshark founder Ben Francis, 31, who first joined the list in 2023 and today has an estimated net worth of $1.3bn. No new Brits joined the Forbes ranking in 2024.

Chase Peterson-Withorn, a senior editor at Forbes, said: “It’s been an amazing year for the world’s richest people, with more billionaires around the world than ever before. Even during times of financial uncertainty for many, the super-rich continue to thrive.”

However, Luke Hildyard, executive director for think tank the HighPay Centre, said: “The billionaire list is essentially an annual calculation of how much of the wealth created by the global economy is captured by a tiny caste of oligarchs rather than being used to benefit humanity as a whole.

“It should be the most urgent mission of the coming decades to spread this wealth more evenly, proportionately and efficiently.”