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Not so fast, Arnault!
Bill Gates is back to being the second richest person in the world Wednesday, a day after ceding the spot to luxury goods kingpin Bernard Arnault. Arnault was No. 2 richest for just one day; his net worth fell from $107 billion Tuesday to $106 billion as of 4:30 pm ET Wednesday. Gates ended the day Wednesday at $106.8 billion, according to Forbes’ Real Time Billionaire rankings.
Because the two men’s net worths differ by just $800 million, it’s possible they could switch places again. And again.
Gates, Arnault and Jeff Bezos (who’s ranked No. 1) are the only three centi-billionaires in Forbes’ ranking of the world’s richest people. Arnault’s net worth has skyrocketed since he clocked in at $76 billion on Forbes’ 2019 World’s Billionaires list, published in March. Since then, the stock of his Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, whose holdings include Louis Vuitton and Sephora, has risen by more than 33%. In late October, the stock surged following news that LVMH was exploring the purchase of U.S. jewelry firm Tiffany.
Arnault’s net worth fell by $1 billion on Wednesday as shares of LVMH dropped 0.17% on the Euronext Paris exchange. About 90% of Arnault’s fortune lies in LVMH stock he and his family hold. Gates, meanwhile, has sold or given away much of his Microsoft stake; he only owns around 1% of the $1.1 trillion (market cap) software company he cofounded with Paul Allen. It’s a dynamic that Arnault recently called attention to while speaking with Forbes; while noting that Microsoft is “a beautiful company,” he highlighted how few shares Gates retains, saying, “Long-term, he won’t be there.”
Though Microsoft stock fell a tiny bit Wednesday—just 0.28%—some of Gates’ other investments, including Berkshire Hathaway and waste manager Republic Services, ended the day higher, offsetting much of Microsoft’s minute losses. That made the difference in this neck-and-neck measurement of billions.
Gates crossed over the $100 billion mark back in April, following a positive quarterly earnings report for Microsoft. He also briefly eclipsed 12 digits in 1999 amid the dot-com bubble. He held onto the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ annual list of the World’s Billionaires for almost two decades; Amazon chief Jeff Bezos took the title in 2018 and has held onto it, other than a brief dip behind Gates in October. Arnault, who was recently profiled in a Forbes cover story, is the only other person whose fortune comes close to Bezos’s $111.9 billion net worth. Investor Warren Buffett ranks fourth with an $87.5 billion fortune.