French business magnate Bernard Arnault (70) looks set to overtake Microsoft founder Bill Gates (63) as the second richest person in the world following a meteoric rise in his net worth this year.
Arnault, who is the chairman and CEO of LVMH, the world’s largest luxury-goods company, recently became the third richest person in the world after his net worth grew by a whopping $38 billion from January to date, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. As of this writing, his net worth stands at $107 billion and is only a few million dollars behind Bill Gates’s, which is also estimated to be around $107 billion.
Forbes’s Real-Time Billionaires list, whose net worth estimates seem to be relatively more conservative, also places Arnault in the third place, with a net worth of $103.74 billion, only $10m behind Gates, whose net worth the site estimates at $103.75 billion.
If the rate at which Arnault’s net worth has been growing in the past few months remains the same, he is likely to become the second richest person in the world by the end of July. Whether he will one day dethrone Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (55), who tops the list of billionaires with a net worth of $125 billion, remains to be seen. Bezos became the richest person alive less than two years ago following an upsurge in Amazon stock price. He managed to retain his title this year despite his fortune being reduced by almost $40 billion after his divorce from his wife Mckenzie Bezos, who walked away with 25% of their Amazon stock.
Currently, Bezos, Gates and Arnault are the only three people with net worths above $100 billion. There is a huge gap of more than $22 billion between the centi-billionaires and the rest of the billionaires. Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffet (88), the world’s fourth richest person, has a net worth of $84.4 billion. Close behind him is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (35) with a net worth of $79.9 billion.