The Richest Men of the 20th Century Were Still Three Times Richer Than Today's Billionaires

Bezos is no match for Carnegie.

Today’s billionaires are burning through more cash than they know what to do with, but believe it or not, the Forbes’ list billionaires are still no match of the world’s wealthiest from the 20th century.

The top five richest people of the previous century were Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Indian gold mogul Mir Osman Ali Khan, Tsar Nikolai Alexadrovich Romanov of Russia, American business magnate John D. Rockefeller, and Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Their combined wealth in the 1900s, adjusted for inflation, is three times the amount of the combined wealth of billionaires Zara tycoon Amancio Ortega, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet, LVMH head Bernard Arnault, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Using an inflation calculator, found that the combined wealth of the 21st century’s richest men is $514.4 billion. But that’s still a fraction, or a third to be exact, of the combined wealth of the titans of the 20th century who have a combined net worth of a whopping $1.628 trillion. To put that into perspective, that’s basically the entire GDP of Canada.


The world’s current richest man is Jeff Bezos ($125.3 billion), but the ultra-billionaire’s wealth is still only half of the wealth of Gaddafi ($225.7 billion), who ranks as the “least” wealthiest of the top five richest men of the 20th century.

Carnegie holds the title of the 20th century’s richest man and the richest American to ever live. When he was alive, Carnegie was worth $16.3 billion in 1913. If he were alive now, his net worth would be $419.8 billion in 2020. That’s more than three times the wealth of Bezos.

While today’s billionaires could purchase entire nations with their wealth, you could say that their wealth stands on the shoulders of giants.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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