The 25 Richest People Who Ever Lived – Inflation Adjusted

By on November 24, 2017 in ArticlesBillionaire News

As you know, we're pretty obsessed with wealthy people at CNW, and we like to make lists of them. Sometimes those lists need updating, even when we're talking about the richest people in the entire history of the world.

A few years ago we did a lot of research on who the richest people who ever lived. We made a list of 25 of those people. We adjusted the more, shall we say, vintage, entrants' net worths for inflation. We felt really good about our list.

Well then a few of our favorite modern area billionaires went out and added many many many billions onto their net worth's and that changed our list a bit.

Now, we did leave one person off this list, and for good reason. It is our opinion that Solomon's existence and fortune can't be proven to a scientific certainty. It is just not 100% factual that there was ever 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.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The 25 Richest People of All Time:

#25. 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."

#24 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.

#23 Jay Gould – $71 Billion

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

#22 Warren Buffett – $75 Billion

Warren Buffett is the fourth richest man in the world. He is also 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.

#21 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.

#21 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.

#20 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.

#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 Jeff Bezos – $97 Billion

Jeff Bezos is the founder, chairman, CEO, and president of 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 peaked in the summer of 2017, when he was briefly richer than Bill Gates, making him the richest person in the world for a few hours.

#17 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.

#16 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.

#15 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.

#14 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.

#13 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.

#12 Bill Gates – $136 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.

#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 Muammar Gaddafi – $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.

#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 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 She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. An avid long distance runner, weekends she can be found running the streets of Los Angeles training for 1/2 and full marathons. Follow her on Facebook.
Did we make a mistake?
Submit a correction suggestion and help us fix it!
Submit a Correction