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Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Reuters)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Reuters)

'How strange': Elon Musk's wry reaction on turning into world's richest person

  • Musk had a net worth of more than $188.5 billion, $1.5 billion more than Bezos, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index
  • The world’s 500 wealthiest people added a record $1.8 trillion to their combined net worth last year, equivalent to a 31% increase

Right after Tesla CEO Elon Musk overtook Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to become the world's wealthiest person, the outspoken and envelope-pushing Musk gave a rather wry reaction to the news.

“How strange," Musk tweeted after reports of his new status were published, then added “Well, back to work."

Including Thursday's gains in Tesla shares, Musk had a net worth of more than $188.5 billion, $1.5 billion more than Bezos, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

A 4.8% rally in the electric carmaker’s share price Thursday boosted Elon Musk past Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people.

The 49-year-old South Africa-born engineer’s net worth was $188.5 billion at 10:15 a.m. in New York, $1.5 billion more than Bezos, who has held the top spot since October 2017. As chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, Musk is also a rival to Bezos, owner of Blue Origin LLC, in the private space race.

The milestone caps an extraordinary 12 months for Musk. Over the past year his net worth soared by more than $150 billion in possibly the fastest bout of wealth creation in history. Fueling his rise was an unprecedented rally in Tesla’s share price, which surged 743% last year on the back of consistent profits, inclusion in the S&P 500 Index and enthusiasm from Wall Street and retail investors alike.

Bezos would still hold a wide lead over Musk had it not been for his divorce, which saw him cede about a quarter of his Amazon stake to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, and his philanthropy. He donated shares worth about $680 million in November.

The world’s 500 richest people added a record $1.8 trillion to their combined net worth last year, equivalent to a 31% increase. The gains were disproportionately at the top, where five individuals hold fortunes in excess of $100 billion and another 20 are worth at least $50 billion.

Less than a week into the new year the rankings have already been upended by extraordinary rallies. China’s Zhong Shanshan has vaulted past Warren Buffett to claim the sixth slot after shares of his bottled-water company surged, adding $15.2 billion to his fortune.

With agency inputs

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