8 Richest Tycoons in History and What They’d Be Worth Today, From Caesar to Bezos

Blue Origin Bezos, Van Horn, United States - 20 Jul 2021
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The history of civilization has witnessed an array of extraordinarily wealthy individuals, whose fortunes, when adjusted for inflation and global GDP, might leave even today’s billionaires in awe.

Let’s delve into the vaults of history to discover these tycoons and gauge the magnitude of their wealth in today’s terms.

1. Mansa Musa (c. 1280 – c. 1337)

Kingdom: Mali Empire

Primary Source of Wealth: Gold and Salt trade Musa is often dubbed the richest person ever. As the ninth emperor of the Mali Empire, he had unfettered access to the region’s prolific gold mines.

Estimated Worth Today: Over $400 billion

2. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937)

Country: USA

Primary Source of Wealth: Oil Rockefeller, through his Standard Oil empire, controlled a vast majority of the US’s oil, making him the country’s first official billionaire.

Estimated Worth Today: $340 billion

3. Gaius Octavius (Augustus Caesar) (63 BC – 14 AD)

Empire: Roman Empire

Primary Source of Wealth: Landownership and conquest Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, held wealth that accounted for a significant fraction of the empire’s economy.

Estimated Worth Today: Around $300 billion

4. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

Country: USA

Primary Source of Wealth: Steel Carnegie was pivotal in the growth of the US steel industry, later selling his company to J.P. Morgan for a staggering amount.

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Estimated Worth Today: $310 billion

5. King Solomon (c. 990 – c. 931 BC)

Kingdom: Israel

Primary Source of Wealth: Taxes, trade, and gifts from other kingdoms Famous for his wisdom, King Solomon also amassed significant wealth during his reign, leveraging Israel’s unique position as a trade crossroads.

Estimated Worth Today: Estimated to be upwards of $200 billion, though precise figures are challenging due to historical disparities.

6. Jeff Bezos (1964-Present)

Country: USA

Primary Source of Wealth: E-commerce, specifically Amazon Founder of Amazon, Bezos has consistently topped the lists of the world’s wealthiest in recent years.

Peak Net Worth: $200 billion in 2021 (subject to fluctuations)

7. Emperor Shenzong (1048-1085)

Empire: Song Dynasty

Primary Source of Wealth: Imperial riches and a vast empire Shenzong ruled during the height of the Song Dynasty, one of China’s golden ages.

Estimated Worth Today: Hard to quantify, but considering the vastness of the Song economy, likely over $150 billion.

8. Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918)

Country: Russia

Primary Source of Wealth: Russian imperial fortunes The last Tsar of Russia controlled immense wealth, though much of it was lost during the Russian Revolution.

Estimated Worth Today: Over $100 billion.

The scale of wealth throughout history varies based on eras, regions, and industries, but what’s consistent is the profound impact these tycoons had on their respective societies. Whether through conquest, innovation, or commerce, their legacies serve as a testament to the transformative power of immense wealth.

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Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.

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