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Zara Co-Founder Increases Wealth by $22.2B in 2012

The world’s billionaires added a lot more zeros to their bank accounts in 2012.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the 100 richest people around the globe boosted their net worth by a collective $241 billion over the last 12 months. As of Dec. 31, 2012, these tycoons controlled a combined $1.9 trillion of the world’s wealth.

The biggest winner in 2012 was Amancio Ortega, founder of the Spanish retail conglomerate Inditex SA, says Matt Miller, editor of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in an interview with The Daily Ticker.

Ortega increased his wealth by $22.2 billion in 2012 – more than the entire fortune of Alisher Usmanov, Russia’s richest man. The massive jump in Ortega’s fortune can be attributed to the 66.7% rise in Inditex SA stock (like most wealthy people, Ortega's wealth is "paper money" i.e. stock holdings).

One of the best-performing companies in the Inditex SA umbrella is Zara, a popular women’s clothing retailer that sells the latest fashion trends at affordable prices. Ortega and his ex-wife started Zara at their Spanish home, designing and stitching together the fabric with help from family members.

Zara has now become a hugely profitable fashion empire with retail storefronts in every major metropolitan city.

Ortega, the third richest person in the world with a net worth of $57.5 billion, grew up poor in Spain and had to drop out of school at the age of 13 to earn money. But Ortega’s rags to riches story is not unique, says Miller. He estimates that three-quarters of the world’s billionaires are self-made.

Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, added $13.4 billion to estate in 2012, earning him the No. 2 spot after Ortega.

Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates took the No. 3 spot in 2012, raking in $7 billion after Microsoft’s shares rose 2.9% last year. Microsoft stock (MSFT) accounts for just 20% of Gates’ fortune according to Miller.

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett also had an extremely lucky year. The 82-year-old increased his wealth by $5.1 billion in 2012.

For the complete Bloomberg list, click here.

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