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Bezos retains crown as world’s richest in 2019, despite losing $38B in divorce

Megan Henney

Jeff Bezos lost nearly $38 billion in his divorce settlement over the summer, but retained his status as the richest person in the world.

The Amazon CEO is ending the year with a staggering $115 billion fortune, roughly $10 billion less than he had at the beginning of 2019, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

That drop in net worth stemmed from the nearly 20 million Amazon shares that his ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, received in their divorce settlement, the biggest in history. Those shares, which make up about 4 percent of the company, were worth nearly $38 billion.

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Of the world’s 10 wealthiest people, Bezos was the only one who lost money over the course of the year. Comparatively, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, the second richest person in the world, added $22.7 billion to his net worth, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw an astonishing $26 billion increase in his fortune.

Collectively, the world’s 500 wealthiest people just got richer in 2019, adding $1.2 trillion to their overall net worth, boosting it by 25 percent to $5.9 trillion, according to Bloomberg.

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This comes amid a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots -- last year, income inequality in the U.S. climbed to the highest level in more than 50 years, according to the Census Bureau -- prompting some politicians to call for sweeping changes to the U.S. economic system.

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, who has previously said that “billionaires should not exist,” and Elizabeth Warren have proposed a tax on the wealthiest Americans.

Leading the overall gains was France’s Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy, the world’s largest luxury-goods company. Arnault’s fortune swelled by $37 billion this year.

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