Today, the richest are Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bernard Arnault Gates, with approximately 219, 171 and 150 billion dollars each in their pockets respectively. It’s huge, yes, so much so that you think no one has ever reached such a level of wealth. However, if we look back, and try to take inflation into account, we can see that there have been even richer men. That’s what Business Insider and others did, and here’s their ranking of the richest men in history.
Ps: Maybe there were others, like Alexander the Great or Nero, but we don’t have enough documentation to calculate their wealth, so too bad for them.
1. Mansa Moussa: around 400 billion dollars
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He was Emperor of Mali and lived between 1280 and 1337. He ruled the empire at its height, and many consider him to be the richest man who ever lived (many dispute this too, of course it’s hard to tell know who is right or wrong). With all this money, he built many religious buildings and schools. It’s better than slamming everything into crack, isn’t it? On the other hand, it seems he did not have a billionaire’s bank card.
2. John Rockefeller: approximately $340 billion
Better known than Mansa Moussa, we have a little more information on the fortune of Rockefeller, who made his fortune in oil by co-founding Standard Oil. He used his money to do good deeds, like building the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University. Yes, because, even if it means having lots of money, you might as well throw your name everywhere to stay famous.
3. Andrew Carnegie: approximately $310 billion
Carnegie, born Scottish and having emigrated to the United States in the middle of the 19th century, is one of the best examples of self-made men who invested their money well. He founded US Steel, a steel company, which allowed him to fill his pockets. His money, he gave a lot of it to charity, because he was still a nice guy.
4. Nicholas Alexandrovich of Russia: approximately $300 billion
Considered very intelligent from childhood, the second child of Emperor Alexander II was still helped in building up his fortune. He had land and assets in corporations that allowed him to get rich. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t really have time to enjoy it since he died at the age of 21 after spending three years suffering from rheumatism. Better to live poor and old than rich and young.
5. Mir Osman Ali Khan: around 230 billion dollars
We never talk about it in our history books, but this good gentleman reigned for 37 years over the state of Hyderabad in India in the first half of the 20th century. He built a lot of infrastructure, like schools and railways. Finally, when we say that he built, we mean that he spent money to have it built, as you can imagine.
6. Jacob Fugger: approximately $221 billion
Banker, merchant (of textiles and gold) and entrepreneur, this German, an excellent accountant, managed his commercial empire with a masterful hand, helped by his family who managed the branches. In his time, between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century, Jacob Fugger was the richest person in Europe, and probably in the whole world.
7. William the Conqueror: between 209 and 229 billion dollars
The Duke of Normandy succeeded in making his duchy a threat feared by the King of France, Henry I. Then, he left to take the crown of England in 1066, which earned him his laudatory nickname of Conqueror. With the money raised, he built some fortresses to defend the Kingdom.
8. Muammar Gaddafi: around 200 billion dollars
These are of course estimates, and we do not know if we will know more one day. Gaddafi, when he ruled Libya (with more or less full powers), spent a lot to provide good infrastructure for his people. On the other hand, what he never gave his people was political freedom. For the Libyans, there is no question of showing their disagreement with their leader, otherwise it is prison or execution. Until 2011, when the civil war broke out and Gaddafi was lynched to death. We all remember that. Sarkozy’s campaign too, we all remember it.
9. Henry Ford: around $199 billion
If you went to school, you must have been told about this gentleman who created the Ford automobile company and implemented very precise production methods intended to increase the productivity of his employees and his factories. It is thanks to people like him that the trades are less and less qualified in the industrial sector these days. Thanks Henry.
Well it’s a little below Elon Musk but it’s still more than Jeff Bezos, so he clearly has his place in this top.
10. Cornelius Vanderbilt: about $185 billion
A great actor in the expansion of the railroads in the United States, but also in maritime construction, he was described as an “arrogant, secretive, furiously selfish and superstitious megalomaniac, always surrounded by a court of seers, spiritualists and of mediums”. In other words, he was an asshole, who didn’t hesitate to do dirty tricks to get rich. We won’t regret it. And if he is a little less rich than Elon Musk, he clearly has more money than Bernard Arnault or Bill Gates.