The net worth of Jeff Bezos has broken his previous record. This, despite relinquishing a quarter of his stake in Amazon.com Inc. as part of a divorce settlement last year. Shares of the Seattle-based retailer increased by 4.4% to a record $ 2,878.70 on 1 July. This has boosted the founder’s world-leading fortune to $ 171.6 billion. This tops his previous high of $ 167.7 billion, set on 4 September 2018 (Bloomberg Billionaires Index).
The gains of Jeff Bezos — $56.7 billion this year alone — exemplifies a widening wealth gap in the US during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Initial public offerings and buoyant equity markets have bolstered mega-fortunes, even as tens of millions of people have lost their jobs.
This week, after receiving complaints about ending pandemic hazard pay, Amazon said it would spend about $ 500 million to give one-time $500 bonuses to most front-line workers. The company declined to comment on its founder’s wealth.
Amazon is having a field day, with the COVID pandemic accelerating the consumer’s switch to e-commerce from brick-and-mortar retail. Jeff Bezos owns 11% of the stock, which makes the bulk of his fortune.
Most who made the biggest wealth gains hail from the tech sector. They include Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk, who added $ 25.8 billion to his fortune since 1 January. Zoom Video Communications Inc founder Eric Yuan’s wealth has almost quadrupled to $ 13.1 billion.
Not doing badly after divorcing Jeff Bezos
Mackenzie Bezos, who acquired a 4% stake in Amazon after the couple split, has a net worth of $ 56.9 billion and climbed to No 12 in Bloomberg’s ranking. She recently leapfrogged Alice Walton and Julia Flesher Koch to become the world’s second-wealthiest woman, and now trails only L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.
Not every billionaire has come out ahead this year. Spain’s Amancio Ortega, the titan behind the Zara fast-fashion brand, has lost $19.2 billion, the most of anyone on the Bloomberg index. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett has dropped $19 billion and French luxury-goods tycoon Bernard Arnault is down $17.6 billion.
However, most have weathered the downturn. The collective net worth of the world’s 500 richest people now stands at $5.93 trillion, compared with $5.91 trillion at the beginning of the year.