The top five richest people of the 20th century would currently have a cumulative wealth of $1.62 trillion. Data gathered and calculated by Learnbonds.com, based on inflation adjustments, shows this group had a combined net worth of $63 billion in 1913.
The valuation was arrived at by incorporating the consumer price index change over the years as provided by the Usinflationcalculator.com. To calculate 1913 wealth in US dollars the formula 2020 Price x (1913 CPI / 2020 CPI) was used.
In the 20th century, Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist was the richest man. In 2020 he would still occupy the top spot with a net worth of $419.8 billion. His vast fortune was credited with the sale of Carnegie Steel Company to JP Morgan for $480 million in 1901. From the sale, Carnegie also received $230 million in gold bonds. Carnegie who died in 1919 channeled most of his wealth to charity. In 1913, Carnegie had a net worth of $16.5 billion.
The richest American to ever live
John D Rockefeller is the richest American to ever live. By 2020, Rockefeller’s wealth would be equivalent to $384.8 billion. Rockefeller who died in 1937 had interests in oil with his Standard Oil company becoming a force to reckon with in the American oil industry. The empire was valued at $14.9 billion in 1913. The company was later segmented into various entities like Amoco, Chevron Conoco, and ExxonMobil.
Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov, the Russian mogul who died in 1917 would have a networth of $13.1 billion in1913 when the inflation is adjusted. Romanov would be worth $338.58 billion in 2020.
Mir Osman Ali Khan from India is also among the richest people to ever live. Khan made his fortune from gold. It is reported that Khan had a personal collection of gold worth over $100 million alongside $400 million worth of jewels. With inflation adjustment, Khan would be worth $259.5 billion while in 1913 he would be worth $10 billion.
Former long term Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi also makes it to the list of the richest people who lived between the 20th and 21st centuries. Unlike others on the list, by his death in 2011, Gadaffi was among the secret wealthiest people. He had a reported net worth of about $200 billion. According to the United Nation, Gaddafi’s billions could still be hidden across different banks across Africa. His fortune was mainly in diamond and gold. In 2020, the former Libyan leader would be valued at $225.7 billion. In 1913, Gadaffi would have a valuation of $8.7 billion.
The 20th-century billionaires vs modern billionaires
There is also a significant gap when compared to the current top five living rich people. Cumulatively the top five modern wealthy people have a net worth of $514.4 billion which is at least three times less than the 20th century top five richest people.
In third place, Bernard Arnault of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) with a net worth of $108 billion. Head of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett occupies the fourth spot with $90.40 billion while Amancio Ortega of Zara fashion closes the top five groups with a net worth of $78.10 billion.
A review of the wealthy in the 20th century shows that the group was evenly distributed across the world. However, the current list of the top global billionaires is dominated by Americans. Sadly, when both groups are compared, no woman has made a cut.