The Richest People in the World in 2023
After witnessing record gains in wealth, ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) lost a combined $10 trillion last year.
A lagging stock market dented these fortunes against high interest rates, energy shocks, and economic uncertainty. But some of the world’s billionaires have flourished in this environment, posting sky-high revenues in spite of inflationary pressures.
With data from Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List, we feature a snapshot of the richest people in the world in 2023.
Luxury Mogul Takes Top Spot
The world’s richest person is France’s Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of LVMH.
With 75 brands, the luxury conglomerate owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Tiffany. LVMH traces back to 1985, when Arnault cut his first major deal with the company by acquiring Christian Dior, a firm that was struggling with bankruptcy.
Fast-forward to today, and the company is seeing record profits despite challenging market conditions. Louis Vuitton, for instance, has doubled its sales in four years.
In the table below, we show the world’s 10 richest people with data as of May 31, 2023:
|1||Bernard Arnault & family||LVMH||$215B|
|2||Elon Musk||Tesla, SpaceX||$196B|
|6||Warren Buffett||Berkshire Hathaway||$112B|
|10||Carlos Slim Helu & family||Telecom||$99B|
Elon Musk, the second-wealthiest person in the world has a net worth of $196 billion. In June, he stepped down as CEO of Twitter as Linda Yaccarino, a former marketing executive at NBCUniversal took over.
Third on the list is Jeff Bezos, followed by Oracle founder Larry Ellison. Oracle, a multi-billion dollar cloud provider, is partnering with Nvidia in its artificial intelligence (AI) supercomputing platform designed for enterprises across multiple industries.
Fifth on the list is Warren Buffett. In his annual letter to shareholders, he discussed how Berkshire Hathaway reported record operating profits despite economic headwinds. The company outperformed the S&P 500 Index by about 22% in 2022.
How Fortunes Have Changed
Given multiple economic crosscurrents, billionaire wealth has diverged over the last year. Arnault’s wealth has soared the fastest, at 36%, followed by Ellison at 25%.
Carlos Slim Helu, with double-digit wealth increases, runs the largest telecom firm in Latin America. A decade ago, Slim was the richest person on the planet.
Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth decline 17%, or $29 billion, the most across the top 10 richest.
So far this year, AI market euphoria has led fortunes in big tech to rebound, although many have not fully recovered. In 2022, the top 10 tech billionaires lost almost $500 billion in combined wealth.
Recent Shakeups in Asia
Among the most striking news for the world’s richest centers around Gautam Adani, formerly the richest person in Asia.
In January, Hindenburg Research, a short-selling firm, released a report claiming that the Adani Group engaged in stock manipulation and fraud. Specifically, the report alleged the firm used offshore accounts to launder money, artificially boost share prices, and hide losses.
The Adani Group, which owns India’s largest ports—along with ports in Australia, Sri Lanka, and Israel—lost $100 billion in value in the span of a few weeks.
Interestingly, very few Indian mutual funds hold significant shares in Adani Group, signaling a lack of confidence across India’s market, which was also cited in Hindenburg’s report.
As a result, Mukesh Ambani has climbed to Asia’s top spot, controlling a $84 billion empire that spans from oil and gas and renewable energy to telecom. His conglomerate, Reliance Industries is the largest company by market cap in India.
Animated: Change in Russian Billionaires’ Wealth Since 2022
How have Russian billionaires fared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? This animation tracks the wealth of 22 Russian billionaires.
Animated: Change in Russian Billionaires’ Wealth Since 2022
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, many countries retaliated with sanctions targeting Russian billionaires—the oligarchs—and politicians directly.
And as the war has progressed, those sanctions have intensified, with even the relatives and shell companies of these billionaires being targeted over time. The reason? These oligarchs are interconnected to Russia’s government, lending vocal and fiscal support in exchange for sweetheart deals or beneficial government oversight.
This animation from James Eagle shows how the estimated net wealth of the 22 wealthiest Russian billionaires on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in April 2023 has changed since January 2022, prior to the start of the conflict.
Net Wealth of Top Russian Billionaires
The 22 wealthiest Russian billionaires in April 20, 2023 lost a collective $90.4 billion in net worth since January 5, 2022.
|Rank||Name||Main Industry||Net Wealth|
(Apr 20, 2023)
(Jan 5, 2022)
The heaviest hit include Viktor Vekselberg, who holds a stake in UC Rusal, the world’s third largest aluminum producer. Since the start of the war, he’s lost an estimated $11.3 billion or 61% of his net worth from January 2022.
Roman Abramovich, who got his start in the early oligarchy through oil conglomerates, was also hit hard by the sanctions. He lost $10.5 billion or 58% of his net worth from January 2022, and was forced to sell Chelsea Football Club in one of the biggest sports team sales in history.
Notably, the richest oligarchs haven’t lost as much. Mining giant Norilsk Nickel’s largest shareholder, Vladimir Potanin, saw his net worth only drop by 4.8%. After being hit hard at the onset of the war in Ukraine, he quickly rebounded and at many times had an even higher net worth, reaching $35.6 billion in June 2022.
And a few oligarchs, like former Norilsk Nickel CEO Mikhail Prokhorov and phosphate-based fertilizer baron Andrey Guryev, saw their wealth increase since January 2022. Guryev grew his net worth by $2 billion or 26%, while Prokhorov (who formerly owned the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets) saw his net worth even out at a gain of $0.3 billion or 2%.
Oligarch Support of Russia (or Lack Thereof)
As Russia’s war with Ukraine has dragged on, and sanctions have continued to weigh on Russian billionaires, politicians, and companies, their effects have been uncertain.
Oligarchs have lost net worth, relinquished foreign businesses, and even had prized possessions like mansions and yachts seized. At the same time, though Russia’s economy has weakened under sanctions, bolstered trade with countries like China, India, and Saudi Arabia have kept it stronger than expected.
And though some oligarchs have voiced various concerns over the ongoing war, the wealthiest have been careful to toe the line. Russian billionaires and politicians that did vocalize criticism, including Lukoil chairman Ravil Maganov, have been found dead in apparent suicides, heart attacks, and accidents.
The most serious oligarch rebellion wasn’t due to economic hardships, but military operations. Oligarch and mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin launched an attempted coup in June 2023, reportedly retreating after support from within Russia’s military quickly fizzled.
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