Forbes 2013 billionaire list: rich get richer, women ascend

The aggregate wealth of the world's billionaires is at an all-time high, and 210 new names, including 34 women, have joined the list.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/File
Lifetime Honorary Chairman of Telefonos de Mexico Carlos Slim Helu participates in the Wall St. Journal CEO Council on 'Rebuilding Global Prosperity' in Washington in this November 2009 file photo. Helu and his family topped Forbes list of the world's billionaires yet again this year, with a net worth of $73 billion.

Forbes released its annual ranking of the world's billionaires today, and they are $800 billion richer than they were last year. 

The magazine reports that 1,426 people made the cut in 2013, with 210 new names on the list. Their aggregate wealth totals $5.4 trillion, an all-time high and up from $4.6 trillion in 2012.

Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim Helu and his family topped the list yet again this year, with a net worth of $73 billion. Like last year, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates was at Mr. Slim's heels, with $67 billion in wealth. The two have partnered to build a $25 million agricultural research center in Slim's home country, Forbes reports.

And while Spain is stumbling under the weight of one of the deepest recessions in the European Union, retailer Amancio Ortega comes in at No. 3  He's behind the clothing retailer Zara – described by Reuters as "one of the dominant apparel lines in Europe." His wealth gain of $19.5 billion was the largest on the list, Reuters reports. 

Forbes determines the individuals' net worths by valuing their assets – including stakes in companies, real estate, etc. – and their debt. 

Forbes reports that Brazilian Eike Batista, who, according to the magazine, used to brag that he was on his way to overtaking Slim, was "the year's biggest loser." He lost $19.4 billion in the last 12 months, the largest drop in net worth on the list, as a result of tremendous stock losses.  

As in years past, the US dominated the list, with 442 American billionaires. The Asia-Pacific reason contributed 386 people to the list, followed by Europe with 366, the Americas with 129, and the Middle East and North Africa with 103. 

Parsing the rankings, The Los Angeles Times reports that Liliane Bettencourt, the name behind L'Oreal cosmetics, is the world's wealthiest woman. The total number of female billionaires grew from 104 to 138.

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was dropped from the list because "his assets are hard to calculate," Agence France-Presse reports. He has been in hiding since 2001, although there were unconfirmed reports last month that he was killed in a shootout. 

"Although he is believed to likely be alive and living in Mexico, Guzman's whereabouts are unknown," Forbes wealth editor Luisa Kroll said.

"Also sketchy: how he's spending the illicit money he earns. Forbes has been unable to reach him to verify figures and believes an increasing chunk of money is going to protect him and his family.

"As the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, he is one of the most powerful people in the world, but no longer someone we are confident enough to call a billionaire."

CNN Money reports that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg suffered the biggest losses of any American on the list, with his wealth trimming down $4.2 billion in 2013. But before you sympathize too much, remember that he is still in possession of a solid $13.3 billion. 


Harvard Business School Professor Michael Norton and Duke University Behavioral Economics Professor Dan Ariely recently polled 5,000 Americans on how they perceived wealth distribution in the US. The following video is based on the results of their study.

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