Elon Musk’s wealth soared to levels only ever achieved by John D. Rockefeller. Bill Hwang lost $20 billion in days, Bill Gates—once the world’s richest man—divorced under a Jeffrey Epstein cloud. For the wealthiest people on the planet, 2021 was a year of enormous gains, extreme losses and unprecedented scrutiny. Mostly, it was a good time to be a multibillionaire. Soaring equity markets and rising valuations of everything from mansions to crypto to commodities boosted the collective fortune of the world’s 500 richest people by more than $1 trillion even as the Covid-19 pandemic roiled the globe for a second year.
The gains mean there are now a record 10 fortunes in excess of $100 billion, more than 200