Credit their innovations, the “Trump Bump” or just plain luck: America’s wealthiest people are getting even richer.
Since January 1, the country’s five richest people have added a combined $66.8 billion to their personal fortunes.Four of those individuals—Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison—are founders of iconic technology firms. The last is legendary value investor Warren Buffett.
Though each member of the top five holds a distinct portfolio, the gains are all generally attributable to excellent returns on public markets. As one example, the share price of Zuckerberg’s social media giant, Facebook, has increased 50% so far this year.
Zuckerberg, the biggest gainer of the group, enjoyed a $23.4 billion boost to his net worth between January 1 and 4 PM Eastern Time on Friday afternoon. He is now worth an estimated $71.8 billion, according to Forbes’ real-time rankings of the world’s billionaires, and is only $3 billion behind Warren Buffett, the planet’s fourth-richest person.
Jeff Bezos has had the second-most lucrative year. His fortune rose $21.9 billion through Friday, to an estimated $86.8 billion. On Thursday, Bezos briefly surpassed Bill Gates to become the world’s wealthiest individual, after his net worth eclipsed $90 billion.
At the time, the Amazon founder’s wealth was contextualized by Seattle Times real estate reporter Mike Rosenberg, who wrote on Twitter that Bezos could afford to buy every house in Seattle—all 136,000 of them.That, of course, assumed that Bezos would be able to fully liquidate his Amazon stock.
Billionaires are not the only investors who have realized gains in 2017. Overall market performance has been strong this year. The Nasdaq Composite Index has returned 18% to date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has leapt more than 10%.
Of America’s five wealthiest people, Warren Buffett has added the least to his fortune since January. His net worth has risen a comparatively modest $1.9 billion, to an estimated $74.9 billion, though his wealth was impacted by a $3.2 billion charitable donation made earlier this month.
Rounding out the group is Oracle founder Larry Ellison, who holds the vast majority of his fortune in Oracle stock. His net worth rose $13.5 billion, to an estimated $61.2 billion. That increase is larger than the annual gross domestic product of Nicaragua.