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Forbes released its annual list of a world’s record 1,827 billionaires for 2015, having an aggregate net-worth of US$7.05 trillion, up from US$6.4 trillion in 2014, according to the wealth magazine.

These ultra-high net-worth wealth owners comprise a co-hort of 290 new billionaires and a record 197 women, up from 172 in 2014. Last year, nine of these remarkable women controlled US$114.6 billion of personal wealth, according to a Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014 list of the wealthiest women in each region of the world, released on October 29, 2014.

Below are the top 10 wealthiest billionaires for 2015, according to Forbes:

#1 Bill Gates (United States)

Net-worth: US$79.2 billion (+ US$3.2 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Bill and Melinda Gates

Forbes reports Bill Gates has been steadily selling his shares of Microsoft he founded in 1975 for the last 15 years. Gates sold off a third of his remaining stake over the last 12 months through February 2015. His stake unloaded included “a gift of shares worth US$1.5 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2014, which brought his lifetime giving up to US$30.7 billion.”

According to his third ranking on the Wealth-X list of top bull market gainers in 2014, the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, saw his 2013 net-worth of US$72.6 billion increase 14% or US$10.5 billion in gains to his nest egg of US$83.1 billion in 2014.

Gates, who spends most of his time focused on philanthropy, “laid out some decisive goals for the foundation in his annual January letter,” says Forbes.

According to the Foundation Center, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given to those in need US$3.2 billion in 2013, far outpacing the second runner-up, the Ford Foundation, giving away US$593.8 million (or about US$0.594 billion) in 2013.

Billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates, has reportedly backed British multimedia learning company Bull City with a donation of US$660,000 to study how routine vaccinations are administered in clinics in rural Africa, according to the Triangle Business Journal.

The fund towards the 11-month project undertaken by Bull City would be used to study immunization and primary care practices in six clinics in rural Uganda using video, photography and live observation and ethnographic approaches, the Triangle Business Journal reports.

While continuing to work on improving U.S. education and global health, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also “committed to getting Africa to feed itself and wants to help spread mobile banking, which it believes can help transform the lives of the poor,” reports Forbes.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested US$750 million in The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Global Journal reports: “Speaking at the World Economic Forum in 2012, Bill Gates announced a US$750 million promissory note, allowing the Global Fund to continue its lifesaving programs through 2016 and bringing the Foundation’s total investment in the fund to US$1.4 billion.”

Said Gates: “These are tough economic times, but that is no excuse for cutting aid to the world’s poorest. The Global Fund is one of the most effective ways we invest our money every year.”

Simon Bland, Chair of The Global Fund’s Board, responded delightfully to the Gates charitable secular gift by saying: “Millions of lives depend on a predictable stream of funding from the Global Fund. If the funding level stagnates now, the world will not achieve the great goals that are within reach, such as a world where no child is born with HIV, where no one needs to die from malaria, and eventually, a world where all who need it get effective drugs to treat TB and live with HIV.”

#2 Carlos Slim Helu & Family (Mexico)

Net-worth: US$77.1 billion (+ US$5.1 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Carlos Slim Helu

Taking advantage of hyper-competitive growth in Mexico’s telecom industry, Carlos Slim Helu spent US$5.6 billion to buy out AT&T’s 8.3% stake in pan-Latin American wireless carrier, America Movil — Slim family’s greatest holdings.

AT&T has become America Movil chief competitor in Mexico from the American telecom industry leader’s acquisition of wireless carrier, Grupo Iusacell from Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego in January 2015.

The Slim family’s portfolio also includes the real estate holdings, Innmeubles Carso, yielding US$450 million to minority stockholders in December 2014, reports Forbes.

In January 2015, Slim cashed-in on derivatives options and warrants to purchase the largest amount of stocks of The New York Times, holding nearly 17% of America’s newspaper.

Slim also holds a controlling interest in industrial conglomerate, Grupo Carso, financial venture, Grupo Financiero Inbursa, and infrastructure development and operating company, Ideal, according to Forbes.

#3 Warren Buffett (United States)

Net-worth: US$72.7 billion (+ US$14.5 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Warren Buffett

The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, Buffett was Forbes top bull market gainer, up US$14.5 billion to US$72.7 billion, largely attributed to Berkshire Hathaway’s consistent earnings growth. The long-standing hedge holding firm’s coveted Class A stock, which is the most expensive of any public U.S. company, reached US$200,000 per share for the first time in August 2014, according to Forbes. Having a market capitalization of US$355 billion as of February 2015, Berkshire Hathaway is America’s fourth most valuable public company.

With dozens of subsidiaries, including in railroads, insurance and energy, Berkshire Hathaway posted US$182 billion in 2013 revenue and US$19.5 billion in net income. Specializing in large capitalization and value-oriented enterprises, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway recently purchased battery maker Duracell from Procter & Gamble in November 2014 for US$4.7 billion.

Buffett donated in July 2014 Berkshire shares worth US$2.8 billion, primarily to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and to his children’s foundations, bringing his lifetime giving to nearly US$23 billion.

Buffett also ranked second on the Wealth-X list of top bull market gainers in 2014. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman raked in US$13.5 billion in gains in 2014, a 23% increase from his US$59.1 billion net-worth in 2013, to push his current fortune to US$72.6 billion in 2014, according to the Wealth-X analysis.

#4 Amancio Ortega (Spain)

Net-worth: US$64.5 billion (+ US$500 million over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Amancio Ortega

According to Forbes: “Spaniard Amancio Ortega grew up the son of a railway worker and is now the world’s richest retailer.

“Spaniard Amancio Ortega co-founded Zara in 1975 with lingerie and bathrobes he and his former wife Rosalia Mera made in their living room. By the mid-1980s, he had taken Zara all over Spain and was ready to expand overseas.

“As his empire grew, Ortega caught the retail establishment by surprise, limiting advertising, expanding aggressively, and controlling much of his own supply chain.

” … Ortega powered through the Spanish financial crisis, personally gaining US$45 billion from 2009 to 2014, as his shares of Inditex defied the rest of the Spanish stock market.

“In the last decade, he has taken billions in Inditex dividends and reinvested the money into real estate in marquee cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, London, Chicago, Miami and New York.”

#5 Larry Ellison (United States)

Net-worth: US$54.3 billion (+ US$6.3 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Larry Ellison

“After building databases for the CIA, Ellison founded database software firm Oracle in 1977 and has overseen its tremendous growth–revenues in fiscal 2014 grew to $38.3 billion,” Forbes reports.

“In September 2014, Ellison shocked the business world by announcing plans to step down as CEO; he is staying on as Oracle’s chairman and chief technology officer,” the wealth magazine confirms.

#6 Charles Koch (United States)

Net-worth: US$42.9 billion (+ US$2.9 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Charles Koch

#6 David Koch (United States)

Net-worth: US$42.9 billion (+ US$2.9 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: David Koch

According to Forbes: “With more than $5 billion on acquisitions in 2014, including inkmaker Flint Group for a reported $3 billion and PetroLogistics for $2.1 billion, Charles Koch has been chair of Koch Industries since 1967, along with his brother David Koch, overseeing massive growth of what is now the second-biggest private company at US$115 billion in revenue in America, behind commodities giant, Cargill.”

“Their reach extends from oil pipelines, refineries and manufacturers of building materials to paper towels and even Dixie Cups … The Kochs are also active philanthropists. In mid-2014, a $25 million gift from Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation to the United Negro College Fund sparked discussion on the left and right,” Forbes reports.

#8 Christy Walton & Family (United States)

Net-worth: US$41.7 billion (+ US$5 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Christy Walton

Christy Walton, who inherited a portion of the Walmart fortune after her husband, John Walton’s death in 2005, is the richest woman in North America and the world with an estimated 2014 net-worth of US$37.9 billion, according to a Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014 list of the wealthiest women in each region of the world, released on October 29, 2014.

The next wealthiest woman in the United States is her sister-in-law Alice Walton, who trailed Christy by US$3 billion, as of mid-September 2014, according to Forbes.

Forbes adds: “Christy married into what is now the richest family in the world (worth more than US$150 billion) and inherited her wealth, when husband John Walton, a former Green Beret and Vietnam war medic, died in an airplane crash in 2005.”

“She’s the wealthiest of the Waltons thanks to a side investment by John that turned into a major score: solar energy company, First Solar,” Forbes confirms. “Her nearly 27% stake is worth some US$1.8 billion. The bulk of her holdings are in Wal-Mart, the massive retailer founded by her father-in-law Sam Walton and his brother James in 1962. She will receive US$470 million in Wal-Mart dividends after taxes in 2014.”

#9 Jim Walton (United States)

Net-worth: US$40.6 billion (+ US$5.9 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Jim Walton

Jim Walton, a board member of Wal-Mart, is the youngest child of the superstore’s legendary founder Sam Walton, Forbes reports. “The company generated US$473 billion in 2014 revenues from with more than 11,000 stores in 27 countries. In February 2015, Wal-Mart announced it would raise its wages in the U.S. to at least US$9 an hour in 2015 and at least US$10 an hour in 2016. Labor advocates had called for a jump to US$15 an hour.”

“Outside of Wal-Mart, Jim Walton is chairman and CEO of the family-founded Arvest Bank, which has branches in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. The bank has assets of nearly US$15 billion and had net profits of nearly US$130 million in 2013,” Forbes adds.

According to the Foundation Center, the Walton Family Foundation, has given forth US$423.8 million (or nearly US$0.424 billion) to those in need during 2013.

#10 Liliane Bettencourt & Family (France)

Net-worth: US$40.1 billion (+ US$5.6 billion over 2014 wealth level)

Photo Credit: Liliane Bettencourt

According to the Wealth-X/UBS list in October 2014, Liliane Bettencourt, the oldest female billionaire at 92, is heiress of the French cosmetic giant L’Oreal, whose personal 2015 net-worth was at US$40.1 billion, according to Forbes, which earns her the honor of being the wealthiest woman of Europe. Bettencourt’s net worth was recorded at US$31.3 billion, according to the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014 list of the wealthiest women in each region of the world, released on October 29, 2014.

Forbes reports: “L’Oreal grand dame Liliane Bettencourt grew even richer in 2014 thanks to a deal in which she purchased an additional 8% stake in the cosmetics empire from Nestlé, raising her and her family’s chunk of L’Oreal stock to 33%. Her father, Eugene Schueller, founded L’Oreal in 1907. Bettencourt has not been involved in running the company for several years.”

How wealthy are these billionaire business clubbers in 2015?

The annual Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census, which provides the most in-depth accounting of the world’s wealthiest people, contrasts Forbes’ analysis, as of October 29, 2014:

  • The typical billionaire has a net worth of US$3.1 billion with mean cash-on-hand at US$600 million.
  • The typical billionaire is 63 years old.
  • The typical billionaire has nearly half of his or her wealth in ownership of privately-held businesses.
  • The typical billionaire owns four properties worth some US$94 million collectively.
  • There are a record 2,325 billionaires in the world today in 2014, up 7.1 percent from last year.
  • The largest share of 19.3% billionaires made their fortunes through finance, banking and investment, followed by industrialists at 12.1%, real estate moguls at 7.1%, charities and philanthropy at 5%, and textile, clothing and apparel, and luxury goods industries at 4.9%.
  • Four of five of these billionaires are men, of which 60% are “self-made” wealth owners (at US$3.2 billion in mean net worth), 26.9% collectively inherited and self-made their wealth (at US$2.9 billion in mean net worth), and 13.1% purely inherited their wealth status (at US$3.2 billion in mean net worth).
  • Men make up 2,039 of billionaires worldwide. They own 87.2 percent or US$6.4 trillion of the combined wealth of all billionaires, which increased by 12 percent in 2014 to US$7.3 trillion. Or better still, this amounts to about 4 percent of global wealth.
  • One in five billionaires are women, of which 65.4% are “self-made” wealth owners (at US$2.2 billion in mean net worth), 17.5% collectively inherited and self-made their wealth (at US$3.4 billion in mean net worth) and 17.1% purely inherited their wealth status (at US$3.5 billion in mean net worth).
  • Women make up just 286 of billionaires globally (a “record 197 women, up from 172 in 2014,” contrasting Forbes’ to Wealth-X and UBS’s 2014 analyses). These few remarkable women own just 12.8 percent or US$930 billion of the total wealth of all billionaires.
  • Just as astonishing, altogether, these billionaire’s total wealth at US$7.3 trillion is far more than the combined market capitalization of all listed firms on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Slate reports.

A total of 1,187 ultra-high net-worth individuals of Forbes 2015 list are self-made billionaires. In contrast, only 230 of these wealth owners inherited their fortunes, while another 403 inherited a portion of their wealth, as they are still working to increase their net-worth.

According to Forbes, “New York has more billionaires than any other city in the world – 78. With 10 fewer than the Big Apple, Moscow comes in second, home to 68 billionaires. Asia’s population of super wealthy individuals has risen sharply in recent years and Hong Kong rounds off the top three with 64. London is home to 46 billionaires, one more than Beijing, which has 45. China’s capital is on course to overtake London in the near future.”

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This year’s largest bull market gainers outnumbered bear market holders in their business interests, including banking, luxury marketing, and profit and not-for-profit affiliations, as 819 billionaires increased their 2014 wealth levels, while 519 saw a drop in their 2014 fortunes, see Top 10 Wealthiest Bulls and Bears of 2014.

According to Wealth-X, the world’s leading ultra-high net worth intelligence and prospecting firm of curated research on ultra-wealthy individuals, having net assets of US$30 million and above, topping the list as the biggest bull market gainers of 2014 was Alibaba founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, the former English teacher-turned billionaire entrepreneur.

Ma’s fortune swelled by US$18.5 billion in gains to US$29.2 billion in 2014, representing an increase of 173%, largely due to Alibaba’s blockbuster Initial Public Offering in September and the subsequent strong performance of the company’s stock.

Ranking at 33 on Forbes latest wealthiest list, Jack Ma’s net-worth in 2015 currently stands at US$22.7 billion, according to Forbes, a drop of US$6.5 billion from his 2014 wealth level.

The largest bear market holder in net-worth is Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, the wealthiest man of Africa, whose fortune dropped to $14.7 billion from $25 billion in 2014, largely attributed to a depressed Nigerian currency and reduced demand for cement, Dangote’s largest asset inside his portfolio.

America’s largest bear market holder was casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who fell out of Forbes Top Ten, ranking at 18 in 2015, resulting from reduced earnings of his Las Vegas Sands asset holdings.

Sheldon Adelson is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, parent company of Venetian Macao Limited, which operates the Sands Expo and Convention Center and The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Adelson’s source of wealth originates from his partnership in creating the trade show COMDEX for the computer industry. Adelson purchased and razed the legendary Sands hotel in Las Vegas, spending $1.5-billion to construct The Venetian, an all-suite Venice-themed resort hotel and casino, in its place. The creation of the Venetian revolutionized the Las Vegas hotel industry.

Having a 2013 net worth of US$35.3 billion, Adelson’s 15 percent losses of US$5.2 billion in 2014 reduced his fortune to US$30.1 billion, ranking Adelson last among the top 5 biggest bear market holders in 2014.

Photo Credit: Facebook Co-Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg

Fourth among the Wealth-X top bull market owners in 2014 is the “self-made” entrepreneurial co-inventor of Facebook, its co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose 2013 personal net worth of US$24.7 billion rose 34% or US$8.4 billion in gains to currently US$33.1 billion, according to Wealth-X UHNW intelligence, as of December 2014.

At 30 years old, Zuckerberg’s fortune continually growing ongoing amounts to more than US$1 billion for each year of his life. He also tops the millennial generation billionaires under the age of 40.

Zuckerberg’s net worth, including his shares in public and private companies, residential and personal investments, such as art, planes and real estate, is based on the most recent publicly-available disclosure of his shares and stock options in the Menlo Park, California social media firm.

According to the national Journal of Philanthropy, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg gave $498 million to a Silicon Valley community health foundation in 2013, the Portland Tribune reports.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg moves up 5 spots, ranking at 16 on Forbes’ 2015 wealthiest billionaire list, a first for Zuckerberg appearing among the world’s top 20 wealthiest individuals.

Forbes also ranked the world’s youngest billionaires, whereby Evan Spiegel, 24, co-founder of photo-messaging app, Snapchat, tops the list as the youngest billionaire entrepreneur.

Silicon Valley continues to produce the largest number of young entrepreneurial billionaires, including the co-founders of Uber, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, and their first employee possessing stock of the car service firm, Ryan Graves. Elizabeth Holmes, who leads the blood-testing firm, Theranos, first appears on the Forbes billionaire list as the youngest self-made woman at age 31.

Where Vanderbilt sits, there is the head of the table. I teach my son to be rich.” — William H. Vanderbilt (1821-1885), American railroad president, Quoted by Mr. Justice Holmes, The Soldier’s Faith, 1895.

Some prefer riches, some good health, some power, some public honors, and many even prefer sensual pleasures. … Again, there are those who place the “chief good” in virtue and that is really a noble view; but this very virtue is the parent and preserver of friendship and without virtue, friendship cannot exist at all. … For what person is there, in the name of gods and men, who would wish to be surrounded by unlimited wealth and to abound in every material blessing, on condition that he [she] love no one and that no one love him [her]? Such indeed is the life of tyrants — a life, I mean, in which there can be no faith, no affection, no trust in the continuance of goodwill; where every act arouses suspicion and anxiety and where friendship has no place.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), Roman orator, statesman, On Friendship. Copyright, Loeb Classical Library

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