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Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 14:05
Jeff Bezos becomes the richest man in modern history
By Bloomberg
Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 14:05 By Bloomberg

In this undated photo, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is speaking at an event. (MATTHEW STAVER / BLOOMBERG)

Jeff Bezos is the richest person in modern history.

The Amazon.com Inc founder’s net worth cracked US$150 billion in New York on Monday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s about US$55 billion more than Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person.

Jeff Bezos crossed the threshold as Amazon was preparing to kick off its 36-hour summer sales event, Prime Day, which got off to a rocky start

Bezos, 54, also has topped Gates in inflation-adjusted terms. The US$100 billion mark that Gates hit briefly in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom would be worth about US$149 billion. That makes the Amazon chief executive officer richer than anyone else on earth since at least 1982, when Forbes published its inaugural wealth ranking.

Bezos crossed the threshold as Amazon was preparing to kick off its 36-hour summer sales event, Prime Day, which got off to a rocky start as glitches struck the firm’s website and mobile app.

READ MORE: Amazon CEO becomes world's richest man

Shares of the company, which had climbed to a record US$1,841.95 earlier Monday, pared gains on the news, closing up 0.5 percent at US$1,822.49. Bezos’s stay above US$150 billion may be short-lived. The stock slipped below US$1,800 in extended trading after Netflix Inc posted disappointing results, rattling tech investors.

His net worth has soared by US$52 billion this year, which is more than the entire fortune of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Chairman Jack Ma, Asia’s wealthiest person. It also puts Bezos’s personal fortune within spitting distance of the US$151.5 billion controlled by the Walton family, the world’s richest dynasty.

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“It’s hard to even put it in perspective,” said Michael Cole, CEO of Cresset Family Office. “It’s such a staggering number.”

A Federal Reserve report found the top 1 percent of US families controlled 38.6 percent of wealth in the US in 2016, compared with 22.8 percent held by the bottom 90 percent. Last year, Oxfam International found that more than 80 percent of earnings went to the top 1 percent of the world population.

Behind Bezos on the Bloomberg index is Gates, with a US$95.3 billion fortune. Gates would have had a net worth of more than US$150 billion if he’d held onto assets that he’s given away, largely to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s donated almost 700 million Microsoft shares and US$2.9 billion of cash and other assets since 1996, according to an analysis of his publicly disclosed giving.

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