There were more than 2,755 billionaires around the globe at the start of 2022, and despite a tumultuous couple of years that number continues to rise every year, with 660 added in the previous 12 months. Most people dream of how they may spend, one, ten, or even a hundred million dollars – but how do the world’s richest spend their billions?

Who are the world’s richest billionaires?

The world’s billionaires have a combined wealth of $13.1 trillion, which is roughly the same as the GDP of China or every country within the European Union together. And while new billionaires are being made all around the world, the richest of them are mostly US-based technology entrepreneurs. According to the latest Forbes Billionaires List, the world’s richest billionaires according to the latest Forbes list are:

  1. Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and executive chairman, net worth $177 billion
  2. Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO, net worth $151 billion
  3. Bernard Arnault, LVMH Moët Hennessy Chairman and CEO, net worth $150 billion
  4. Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder, net worth $124 billion
  5. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook/Meta founder, net worth $97 billion

How do billionaires spend their money?

A recent report by Insider found that on average, billionaires can afford to spend $80 million a year, which somewhat eclipses the $42,000 per year earned by the average Briton, and they spend that wealth on superyachts, private jets, real estate, art, cars, watches, and trips to space.

Despite much of the world in lockdown during 2021, yacht brokers had a bumper years with billionaires looking to holiday in safety and style while many borders remained closed. And private jet brokers had a similarly fruitful year for the same reasons.

Meanwhile, annual global sales of arts and antiques soared to $64.1 billion in 2019 according to a Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, with most of that trade dominated by sales in the US, UK, and China, where many of the world’s super-rich spend their money. Beyond the art market, the world’s richest also spend their money on exclusive wines, whiskies, bags and watches, with one style of
expensive Nautilus watch now selling on the aftermarket for over $100,000.

Billionaires often get into wars of words over their inventive tax structures, but many do choose to give back through philanthropy, with Warren Buffet, George Soros, and Bill Gates all renowned for their significant investments in charities and foundations. However, this reinvestment in society is not a desire shared by every billionaire, with the world’s two richest people, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, also the least giving, having only given away an estimated one percent of their wealth to good causes.

Where do the world’s billionaires live?

The US is home to 724 billionaires, the largest number for any country on the list, and four of the top five richest people in the world live within its borders. China, including Hong Kong and Macau, comes a close second with 698 billionaires, but the richest Chinese person, Zhong Shanshan, comes in at number 13 on Forbes’ list with a fortune worth $68.9 billion.

Forbes reports that the UK has 56 billionaires according to Forbes, significantly fewer than the 171 reported by the Sunday Times due to different methodology, and James Radcliffe is the richest Briton with a net worth of $17 billion, which puts him at number 113 on the Forbes list.


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