Taylor Swift joins new entrants to the three-comma club — Forbes

There are more billionaires than ever before. The world has 2,781 people with fortunes exceeding $1bn (£800m), an increase of 141 on 2023, according to Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s richest people – with Taylor Swift among those making the list.

The billionaires are also collectively worth more than ever, with combined assets estimated at $14.2tn – a $2tn increase on 2023 and more than the GDP of every country except the US and China.

Their collective wealth has risen by 120% in the past decade, at the same time as billions of people across the world have seen their living standards decrease in the face of inflation and the cost of living crisis.

“It’s been an amazing year for the world’s richest people, with more billionaires around the world than ever before,” said Chase Peterson-Withorn, Forbes’ wealth editor.

“A record-breaking 14 centibillionaires [$100bn] have 12-figure fortunes. Even during times of financial uncertainty for many, the super-rich continue to thrive.”

Equality campaigners said the “staggering wealth” being accumulated by the super-rich should lead to urgent efforts “to spread this wealth more evenly, proportionately and efficiently”.

Daisy Pearson, of the campaign group Global Justice Now, said: “It is utterly unconscionable that at a time where masses of the world’s population are living in dire poverty, a few individuals are allowed to amass staggering wealth.

“This is only possible through exploitation, and their monopolisation of wealth and resources further allows them to amass huge power and influence over decisions that affect our everyday lives. Enough is enough – we should be regulating these barons out of existence.”

Luke Hildyard, the executive director for the High Pay Centre thinktank, said: “The billionaire list is essentially an annual calculation of how much of the wealth created by the global economy is captured by a tiny caste of oligarchs rather than being used to benefit humanity as a whole.

“It should be the most urgent mission of the coming decades to spread this wealth more evenly, proportionately and efficiently.”

Taylor Swift is one of 265 newcomers to feature on Forbes’ list this year. Swift, 34, reached the milestone with an estimated $1.1bn fortune following her record-breaking Eras tour and concert film.

The Eras tour, a 44-plus song mega-concert that stretched to nearly three and a half hours, generated more than $700m in ticket sales in the US alone, according to Bloomberg; that’s before including the 89-date international leg.

The richest person on the planet is Bernard Arnault, the majority owner of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, whose fortune, according to Forbes, increased by 10% to $233bn.

Elon Musk is in second place with $195bn, an 8% increase on last year.

In October 2023, Taylor Swift accomplished a feat no other musician had before: she became a billionaire strictly off of earnings from her music and performances.

Three months later, Forbes named television tycoon Dick Wolf a billionaire, too, thanks to his estimated $1.9 billion (pretax) career earnings from producing shows like Law & Order and FBI.

The two entertainers bring even more star power to the Forbes World’s Billionaires list, which has seen an explosion in celebrity billionaires in recent years.

Ten of the 14 A-listers on the ranking have become billionaires in the past four years, spurred by entertainers capitalizing on their brand and fame.

Most on this list have made their billions from their own entrepreneurship and ventures outside of their claim to fame.

Pop star Rihanna, for example, built her fortune mainly from her stake in two billion-dollar companies, makeup brand Fenty Beauty, a joint venture with luxury giant LVMH, and lingerie maker Savage X Fenty.

Jay-Z became hip hop’s first billionaire thanks to two alcohol companies, D’Usse Cognac and Armand de Brignac Champagne.

He sold a 50% stake in the latter to LVMH, and he also has stakes in Uber and Block, among other investments.

Michael Jordan earned less than $100 million from his basketball career, but pocketed big bucks from Nike.

Jordan had his biggest score in August, when he sold his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets at a sky-high $3 billion valuation.

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