The 25 Richest People Who Ever Lived – Inflation Adjusted

By on September 4, 2018 in ArticlesBillionaire News

As you may have noticed, we're pretty obsessed with wealthy people here at CelebrityNetWorth. We're also fairly obsessed with lists. So, perhaps not surprisingly, one of our favorite things to do is to make lists of rich people. Richest rappers, richest politicians, richest DJs… But of all the lists we've ever created, the one you are about to read is by far our favorite. This is it. This is the whole enchilada. If you're a fan of CelebrityNetWorth, this is the list you want to make before you die. This is our definitive list of the richest people in the entire history of the world, after adjusting for inflation.

Back in 2010 we did a ton of research to rank the richest people who ever lived after adjusting for inflation. We narrowed the list down to 25 people. All but a tiny handful of people on that list had died long long ago.

Over the last 8 years, a few incredible changes have occurred. First, Jeff Bezos, who wasn't even in the top 100 back in 2010 has slowly climbed the ranks. Thanks to Amazon's extreme success, Jeff has gone from a net worth less than $20 billion to a net worth that is larger than some of history's largest and most famous fortunes. Secondly, some new modern fortunes from tycoons Mark Zuckerberg, Bernard Arnault and Warren Buffett have ballooned to a point where they have also made the list. As a result, you'll actually see 28 names below because we didn't want to cut people off.

David McNew/Getty Images

Now, we did leave one person off this list, and this always stirs some controversy. Whenever we publish this list, we get feedback that the biblical figure King Solomon should be #1 because according to the bible he was the richest man of all time. It is our opinion that Solomon's existence and fortune can't be proven to a scientific certainty and therefore he can't be included on this list. I'm sorry if this steps on some toes, but it's just not 100% factual that there ever even was an actual King Solomon or that he had any wealth at all. If he did exist, there's definitely not any solid evidence that his fortune was actually large enough to make him the wealthiest human being of all time. For more on our methodology on King Solomon, click here.

So, without further ado, here is the updated list of the richest people to ever live.

The Richest People of All Time:

#28. Marshall Field – $66 Billion

Chicago based retail and real estate mogul Marshall Field was worth $66 billion, inflation adjusted, at the time of his death in 1906. Field coined the phrase "The customer is always right."

#27 Stephen Van Rensselaer – $68 Billion

Born in 1764, Stephen Van Rensselaer inherited one of the largest land grants in American history from his father. Stephen Van Rensselaer's family owned much of what would become New York State, including the island of Manhattan. During his lifetime his net worth peaked at $68 billion.

#26 Jay Gould – $71 Billion

Railroad king Jay Gould amassed an impressive $71 billion net worth by the time of his death in 1892.

#25 Bernard Arnault – $78 Billion

French billionaire Bernard Arnault earned his $78 billion fortune thanks to luxury goods conglomerate LVMH which owns brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Moet & Chandon, and Fendi.

#24 Friedrich Weyerhauser – $80 Billion

Friedrich Weyerhauser made his first fortune in the timber business and then went on to acquire enough land to make him the largest private land owner in America. When he died in 1914, his estate was worth the equivalent of $80 billion in 2012 dollars.

#23 Amancio Ortega – $80 Billion

Amancio Ortega is the founder of the retail clothing chain Zara – a brand the Duchess of Cambridge is fond of – and has a net worth of $80 billion. Ortega's net worth has risen $17 billion from 2016 thanks to his real estate portfolio and some smart investments. He is the third richest man in the world.

#22 Mark Zuckerberg – $83 Billion

In July 2018, 34 year old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg saw his net worth top $83 billion for the first time.

#21 Henry Duke of Lancaster – $85.1 Billion

Henry Duke of Lancaster was an English nobleman who lived from 1310 to 1361 and acquired a net worth equivalent to $85.1 billion in modern dollars.

#20 Warren Buffett – $86 Billion

Warren Buffett is the third richest person in the world as of this writing. He is arguably the most famous and successful investor in the world. In fact, if you had invested $10,000 with Buffett in 1966, you would have $300 million today.

#19 A.T. Stewart – $90 Billion

Alexander Turney Stewart, also known as A.T., came to the US from Ireland and ended up creating the largest department store ever at the time. He had accumulated over $1 million by 1876 which was unheard of. When he died in 1876 he was worth the equivalent of $90 billion.

#18 Stephen Girard – $105 Billion

French born shipping and banking mogul Stephen Girard died with the equivalent of $105 billion in 1831. Girard didn't have any heirs so he left the bulk of his estate to charity.

#17 John of Gaunt – $110 Billion

John of Gaunt was England's King Richard II's Regent and had a net worth equal to $110 billion in today's dollars thanks to very generous land grants.

#16 Richard Fitzalan 10th Earl of Arundel – $118.6 Billion

The 10th Earl of Arundel also known as Richard Fitzalan, was a prominent English nobleman and land owner who had a net worth equivalent to $118.6 billion at the time of his death in 1376.

#15 John Jacob Astor – $121 Billion

John Jacob Astor has the honorable distinction of being the very first American multi-millionaire in history. He made his first million by trading furs from Canada to wealthy women in New York City. He used his money to acquire vast amounts of real estate and had a net worth equivalent to $121 billion when he died in 1848.

#14 William de Warenne – $147.13 Billion

William de Warenne, the first Earl of Surrey, was an English military leader and nobleman who was awarded large grants of land for his service during the battle of Hastings. That land was worth the equivalent of $146.13 billion in 1088.

#13 Bill Gates – $149 Billion

At the peak of the dotcom bubble, Gates' Microsoft stock soared, giving him a net worth equal to $136 billion in today's dollars. That's enough to make him the 12th richest human ever.

#12 Jeff Bezos – $170 Billion

Jeff Bezos is the founder, chairman, CEO, and president of Amazon.com. He single-handedly changed the way the world shops. He famously wrote the business plan for Amazon while driving across country with his wife to start the business. His net worth topped $170 billion for the first time in September 2018 when Amazon's market cap hit $1 trillion. Bezos owns 17% of Amazon.

#11 Alan Rufus – $178.65 billion

Alan Rufus was the 11th century military companion of William The Conqueror. Going to war with William was a very profitable endeavor. Rufus was given 250,000 acres of land in England, which at the time, was worth the equivalent to $178.65 billion.

#10 Cornelius Vanderbilt – $185 Billion

Cornelius Vanderbilt is the third richest American ever, the 10th richest person in history and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's great-great-great-grandfather. Cornelius Vanderbilt made his first fortune in the steamboat industry but didn't see his wealth really explode until he invested in railroads at the age of 70. When he died, his estate was worth the equivalent of $185 billion.

#9 Henry Ford – $199 Billion

Ford motor company founder Henry Ford built an iconic brand which we all still know and see today. At the time of death in 1947, he had accumulated a net worth equivalent to $199 billion modern dollars.

#8 TIE: Muammar Gaddafi And Vladimir Putin– $200 Billion

After his death in 2011, reports surfaced that Muammar Gaddafi was secretly the wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $200 billion. In the months surrounding his death, nearly $70 billion in cash was seized in foreign bank accounts and real estate. Muammar Gaddafi's iron fisted rule over Libya's oil fields made up the rest of his net worth. Meanwhile, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has long dodged reports of his over-sized wealth. Some well-researched academics have pegged Putin's secret net worth at $100 – $200 billion. Putin himself pegs his net worth at less than $400 thousand USD. We mention these two for youR info but can't really include them in our official reporting of wealthiest people ever unless concrete evidence comes to the surface.

#7 William The Conqueror – $229.5 Billion

William The Conqueror lived from 1028-1087 and was most famous for invading and subsequently seizing England in 1066. When you spend a lifetime conquering other kingdoms, you tend to acquire quite a bit of money. In Williams case, when he died he left the equivalent of $229.5 billion to his sons.

#6 Mir Osman Ali Khan –  $230 billion

Mir Osman Ali Khan, also known as The Nizam of Hyderabad, was the ruler of Hyderabad until the country was invaded by neighbor India. Mir Osman Ali Khan had a personal collection of gold that was worth more than $100 million and owned over $400 million worth of jewels including the famous Jacob Diamond which is worth $95 million today. Khan used the diamond as a paperweight in his office. He supposedly owned more than 50 Rolls Royces.

#5 Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov – $300 Billion

Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov, also known as Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, ruled the Russian empire from 1894 to 1917 when Bolshevik revolutionists overthrew and murdered him and his family. In 1916, Tsar Nicholas II's net worth was nearly $900 million which is the inflation adjusted equivalent to $300 billion in 2012 dollars. With $300 billion, this makes him the fifth richest person in history and since the Russian Orthodox canonized him, he is the richest saint in human history.

#4 Andrew Carnegie –  $310 Billion

Andrew Carnegie made his vast fortune when he sold his Carnegie Steel Company to JP Morgan for $480 million in 1901. That equates to a peak net worth equivalent to $310 billion in modern dollars. When he sold his company to JP Morgan, Carnegie took home $230 million worth of gold bonds and received a 5% annual coupon to top it off. The bonds sat in a bank in New Jersey which Carnegie never visited. After selling his company, Carnegie retired from business life and dedicated his time to charity. He gave away the majority of his fortune during his lifetime and his final $30 million was donated after his death. Many universities and foundations still bear his name today.

#3 John D. Rockefeller –  $340 Billion

John D. Rockefeller is the richest American who ever lived. At the time of his death in 1937, Rockefeller was worth the equivalent of $340 billion in today's dollars. His company, Standard Oil, dominated American Oil production and was eventually broken up by the US Government for being a monopoly. Standard Oil was broken into smaller companies that you probably recognize today: Amoco, Chevron Conoco, and ExxonMobil. Rockefeller was the first American to ever have a net worth over $1 billion.

#2 The Rothschild Family – $350 Billion

The Rothschild family are the richest people on earth today with assets that total at least $350 billion. Their net worth is difficult to peg because their holdings are so vast, but without question they are the most powerful family in the world. Many people believe they control over $1 trillion in real estate and banking assets alone.

#1: Mansa Musa I –  $400 Billion

Mansa Musa I of Mali is the richest human being in history with a personal net worth of $400 billion! Mansa Musa lived from 1280 – 1337 and ruled the Malian Empire which covered modern day Ghana, Timbuktu and Mali in West Africa. Mansa Musa's shocking wealth came from his country's vast production of more than half the world's supply of salt and gold. Musa used his wealth to build immense mosques that still stand today, nearly 700 years later. His kingdom and wealth didn't last much longer after his death. His heirs were not able to fend off civil war and invading conquerors. Just two generations later, his world record net worth was gone.

Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for www.hsx.com. She has written for Los Angeles Magazine, Your Tango, Thinknum Media, and various airline magazines. Follow her on Facebook. Amy's favorite self-made billionaire is Sara Blakely.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction
Discussion