2021 Wealth Recap: Who Are the Billionaires That Added $402B to Their Fortunes

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock (12210290c)Elon Musk walks from the the justice center in Wilmington, Del.
Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock / Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock

Americans saved a record total of $2.7 trillion in December 2021, according to an NPR report. But that savings largely occurred in upper-income households. In July 2021, 51% of Americans had less than three months’ living expenses in an emergency savings account. Even worse, 25% of survey respondents had no savings at all in 2021, CNBC.com reported.

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Meanwhile, the world’s 10 wealthiest people – with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos topping the list – amassed an extra $402 billion, collectively, in 2021. It’s important to note that a lot of this wealth is “on paper,” attributable to stock market gains as the Dow Jones continues to soar.

Tesla shares, for instance, rose 60% in 2021, bringing “Techno king” Elon Musk’s total net worth to $277 billion as of Dec. 29, 2021. This is in spite of Musk selling stock shares to pay a $12 billion tax bill. Musk’s net worth rose by $121 billion last year. In early January 2021, Musk became the wealthiest person on the planet for the first time, surpassing Bezos. The two traded spots several times in 2021 largely depending on the stock prices of their respective companies and how many shares they owned at the time.

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Who are the other wealthiest billionaires and how much did their wealth grow in 2021?

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos, who lost the title of the richest person in the world last year, garnered an extra $5 billion in 2021. His net worth when the market’s closed on Friday for New Year’s, stood at $195 billion.

Bernard Arnault

Bernard Arnault, who also held the title of world’s richest person briefly in 2021, added $61 billion to his net worth last year, finishing 2021 with $176 billion to his name. Although Arnault doesn’t make headlines as often as Bezos or Musk you’ve no doubt heard of some of the brands owned by LVMH, a luxury good conglomerate headed up by Arnault. If you’ve ever shopped at companies ranging from Sephora to Tiffany & Co. you’ve helped contribute to Arnault’s fortune.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, billionaire philanthropist and Windows co-founder, added $7 billion to his net worth in 2021, in spite of a divorce from long-time wife Melinda French Gates. Bill Gates, who once held the title of world’s richest man, closed out 2021 with a net worth of $139 billion.

Larry Page

Google co-founder Larry Page is right on Gates’ heels, with a net worth of $130 billion to close out 2021. When Google’s parent company Alphabet, of which Page is a board member and stockholder, surpassed the $2 trillion market cap, Page’s earnings grew by roughly $47 billion.

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Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg, who created the parent company of Instagram and Facebook – now called “Meta” – saw the company’s value and stock shares spike 20% this year. Zuckerberg, the youngest person on this top 10 list, owns a 13% share of Meta. His net worth rose by $24 billion this year, up to $128 billion.

Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin joined Larry Page in celebrating the growth of Alphabet company this year. As the other Google co-founder, Brin’s net worth increased by $45 billion, up to $125 billion, this year thanks to his 38 million shares in Alphabet, CNBC.com reports.

Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, tech investor, and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team, bolstered his portfolio by $41 billion in 2021, largely thanks to his investments in Microsoft and other tech stocks, according to CNBC. Ballmer is now worth $122 billion.

Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison, founder of tech company Oracle, also benefited from strong tech stocks in 2021. Ellison’s net worth increased by $29 billion this year, catapulting him into the $100 billionaire club with a net worth of $109 billion.

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Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, often quoted for his investment advice and financial savvy, rounds out the list of the world’s top 10 wealthiest people. In 2008, Forbes named him the world’s richest billionaire, but the Berkshire Hathaway CEO, at the age of 91, says he is trying to give away most of his fortune. A bullish stock market combined with Buffett’s investment prowess, however, isn’t making that an easy task. He added $21 billion to his net worth last year, tying him for 10th place on the list of the world’s richest people with a net worth of $109 billion.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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