The 25 Richest People in History
What you are about to read is a list regarding the 25 richest individuals who ever walked the earth, so you shouldn’t be surprised when you find out that some of them were, in fact, multi-billionaires. Their riches are, of course, adjusted for inflation, just to give you a sense of what they would be worth during our modern days, since most of them actually build their fortunes decades ago. However, the list also involves contemporary personalities such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, especially since Bill is the richest businessmen still alive on our list.
25. Warren Buffet ($64 billion)
Even though he is the “poorest” person on our list, Warren Buffet is nothing short of a highly successful billionaire who earned his fortunes through smart investment deals, which is why he is considered the most successful investor of the 20th century. He recently started to give away large sums of money in charitable purposes, but his peak worth of $64 billion is definitely nothing to shrug at.
24. Sam Walton ($65 billion)
American businessman and entrepreneur Sam Walton is best known for founding the Walmart and Sam’s Club retailers, which allowed him to boast a peak worth of no less than $65 billion at the time of his death. He left his entire fortune to his three children and widowed wife.
23. Marshall Field ($66 billion)
Marshall Field is the founder of the Chicago-based department stores Marshall Field and Company, and when he passed away in 1906, he had an estimated worth of $66 billion. Among his multiple accomplishments and legacies, Field also co-founded the University of Chicago with John D. Rockefeller.
22. Stephen Van Rensselaer ($68 billion)
Stephen Van Rensselaer had many titles, including the one of Lieutenant Governor of New York, soldier, political leader and landowner, since he was the heir of one of the largest estates in New York. His immense wealth catapulted him to the 10th position regarding the wealthiest Americans of all time and the 22nd wealthiest person of all time. His worth reached as high as $68 billion at one point during his life. He used part of his money to fund an institution that would later become the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
22. Carlos Slim Helu ($68 billion)
Mexican business magnate, investor and philanthropist Carlos Slim Helu was ranked the richest person in the world between 2010 and 2013, but the position has been claimed recently by Bill Gates. With an estimated fortune of $68 billion, Carlos Slim is currently the chairman and chief executive of América Móvil and Telmex, but he also has numerous holdings in order prestigious Mexican companies. Since he is just as rich as Stephen Van Rensselaer is, Carlos Slim must also be placed at no. 22 on our list.
21. Jay Gould ($71 billion)
Even though he was widely criticized for his unorthodox ways of conducting business, Jason Gould eventually became the ninth richest American in history, amassing a wealth of no less than $71 billion. Despite his shady ways, Gould was an illustrious American railroad developer and an excellent financier.
20. Friedrich Weyerhauser ($80 billion)
Friedrich Weyerhauser was a German/American timber mogul that eventually founded the Weyerhaeuser Company. As the eight richest American of all time, Friedrich was also one of the largest landowners in America, since his company also included vast areas of forested land.
19. Henry Duke of Lancaster ($85 billion)
Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster was a very wealthy member of the English nobility during the 14th century, since he managed to amass an enormous fortune that would be the equivalent of $85.1 billion today. Henry was a founding member of the Order of the Garter and one of the early patrons of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
18. Alexander Turney Stewart ($90 billion)
Alexander Turney Stewart started off his business with a modest store that sold linens and other fabrics, but he gradually expanded his business and eventually became one of the richest Irish entrepreneurs in modern history. He had a fortune that was equivalent to $90 billion when he passed away in 1876.
17. Stephen Girard ($105 billion)
Even though he was originally born in France, Stephen Girard became one of the most illustrious American bankers and philanthropists. He is widely recognized for saving the U.S. Government from financial collapse in the War of 1812, and he is currently known as the fourth richest American of all time. Since he had no children of his own, he donated large sums of money towards the education and welfare of orphans. After his death in 1831, most of his fortunes were also given to charity according to his will. He was worth $105 billion at the time of his death.
16. John of Gaunt ($110 billion)
John of Gaunt was the younger brother of Edward, Prince of Wales, and he was quite influent in matters of state during the minority of his nephew, Richard II. As such, he benefited from vast land grants that allowed him to gather as much as $110 billion in today’s money.
15. Richard Fitzalan ($118 billion)
Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and 8th Earl of Surrey was a medieval military leader and English nobleman who died in 1376. During his glory days, he was probably one of the richest people in the world, boasting a fortune of $118 billion.
14. John Jacob Astor ($121 billion)
German-born American businessman John Jacob Astor started making money by selling furs and later by investing in real estate and in other businesses. He is widely known as the first multi-millionaire in the United States and the creator of the first American trust. He also dabbled in the smuggling of opium, and he had a net worth of no less than $121 billion at the time of his death in 1848.
13. William de Warenne ($146 billion)
William de Warenne was a Norman nobleman that was at the side of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. As thanks for this great military service, William received vast parcels of land that were worth as much as $146 billion in today’s currency.
12. Bill Gates ($136 billion)
As the 12th richest human being in history, Bill Gates was worth as much as $136 billion at the peak of his career. The father of Microsoft is currently the richest person on earth since he regained the title from Mexican mogul Carlos Slim Helu.
11. Alan Rufus ($178 billion)
It definitely looks like William the Conqueror rewarded those loyal to him with vast sums of money, since Alan Rufus received as much as 250,000 acres of land for his loyalty and exceptional military service. Can you imagine what it would feel like to have $178 billion?
10. Cornelius Vanderbilt ($185 billion)
Cornelius Vanderbilt was also known fittingly known as Commodore since he built his vast fortunes on shipping enterprises but also on railroads later in his life. As the 10th richest individual in history and the 3rd richest American of all time, Vanderbilt was worth $185 billion when he passed away. Nowadays, the Vanderbilt University is a reminder of his former glory, especially since he provided the first sums of money towards its establishment.
9. Henry Ford ($199 billion)
Henry Ford was an accomplished businessman and a visionary who is vastly known today for his successful motor company. However, Ford was also a pioneer in his field and came up with the concept known as “Fordism”, which involved the mass production of inexpensive goods that was complemented by high wages for workers. When he died in 1947, Henry Ford had a bank account of $199 billion.
8. Muammar Gaddafi ($200 billion)
During his 42-year reign over Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, also known as Colonel Gaddafi, secretly amassed a fortune of no less than $200 billion. A highly controversial figure, Gaddafi was applauded by some for his anti-imperial views but also criticized for being a dictator and a supporter of international terrorism.
7. William The Conqueror($229.5 billion)
Since William The Conqueror’s followers were so rich, it stands to reason that he would be even richer. Widely famous for his 1066 invasion of England, William the Conqueror was one of the wealthies Norman Kings at the time, boasting riches that would be worth $229 billion today. His sons inherited his entire fortune.
6. Mir Osman Ali Khan ($230 billion)
As the last the ruler of the Princely State of Hyderabad and of Berar, Mir Osman Ali Khan was a very wealthy and extravagant individual who owned a vast jewelry collection including the renowned $95 million Jacob Diamond. He was so rich that he apparently used this lavish diamond as a paperweight, and he was also quite a big fan of Rolls Royce cars, which is why he had about 50 of them. He had an estimated net worth of $230 billion. Wow!
5. Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov ($300 billion)
As the ruler of the vast Russian empire between 1894 and 1917, Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov enjoyed a lavish lifestyle fueled by his massive fortune of $300 billion. He eventually became canonized in the Russian Orthodox religion, which made him the richest saint in history.
4. Andrew Carnegie ($310 billion)
Andrew Carnegie made the smart move of selling his Carnegie Steel Company to J. P. Morgan in 1901, a move that allowed him to boast a bank account of $310 billion. Shortly after the sale, Carnegie retired and focused more on his charitable endeavors. As one of the most generous businessmen in history, he gave away most of his fortunes and helped found multiple universities, many of which honor him to this day by bearing his name.
3. John D. Rockefeller ($340 billion)
As the wealthiest American in history, John D. Rockefeller made most of his money through his Standard Oil Company, which was eventually dismantled by the U.S. government into 34 smaller companies. A well-known philanthropist and brilliant businessman, John D. Rockefeller was also the first American to achieve a net worth over $1 billion.
2. The Rothschild Family ($350 billion)
The Rothschilds were known throughout the 19th century as the owners of the largest private fortune in the world and the largest fortune in modern world history. Even though their business-related endeavors are being conducted on a smaller scale today, the Rothschild Family is still considered one of the most powerful families in the world, since the combined net worth of its members soars to at least $350 billion.
1. Mansa Musa ($400 billion)
And the richest human being in history is none other than Mansa Musa I of Mali, who flaunts a whopping net worth of $400 billion. Since he was the ruler of a country that produced more than half of the world’s supply of gold and salt, Musa became the richest man ever. He used most of his money to build incredible mosques, some of which can be seen today. Unfortunately, since his heirs were not nearly as good at ruling his vast empire and administrating his money, they quickly fell prey to civil war and foreign conquerors, which caused his vast sums of money to evaporate just 2 generations after his death.