Over the past ten years, the number of billionaires worldwide has skyrocketed During the mid-1990s, the total share of wealth among billionaires was about $1 trillion dollars
But as of 2017, that number has grown by 800% Today, just 8 people control as much money as the bottom 36 billion people on the planet But in spite of their incredible wealth, not one of those eight comes anywhere close to the richest people in history So, who holds the title, and how much money did they have? Well, it’s important to note that the value of currency over time is incredibly difficult to calculate, and all the figures we present are rough estimations of modern day currency
Nonetheless, these historical figures were almost undoubtedly the richest of their era, and we can start, most recently, with former dictator, Muammar Qaddafi As of the start of the 21st century, Ghaddafi had ruled over Libya for four decades, and spent that time consolidating power and wealth During the Libyan Civil War, which eventually led to his death, Qaddafi was in total control of Libya’s economy, and spent it lavishly on himself When the United Nations voted to freeze his personal assets, an estimated $130 billion dollars in real estate and financial holdings around the world were seized Further investigation found that the dictator’s total stashed wealth, all embezzled from the Libyan economy, was closer to $200 billion dollars, making him the richest man in the world at the start of the Libyan Civil War in 2011
This sort of wealth by world leaders is certainly not new Going back more than 2000 years to Ancient Rome, one of the most commonly referenced richest people ever was Marcus Licinius Crassus Crassus was a Roman politician who was alleged to have made his fortune through slave trade, silver mines, and real estate Most notably, Crassus was known to have formed the first fire fighting brigade But instead of arriving at an ongoing fire, and putting it out, Crassus would negotiate for the sale of the property from the homeowner, as it burned to the ground
Only then would he direct his brigade to put out the fire He was also known to enslave architects and builders to reconstruct these burnt out homes, which contributed to his massive real estate fortune Crassus was estimated to control 200 million sesterces, which does not have a direct dollar value, but was roughly the same as the entire Roman treasury’s annual budget However, modern historical accounts heavily dispute that Crassus was not nearly as rich as his contemporary, Emperor Augustus Caesar According to Time Magazine and Stanford professor Ian Morris, Augustus’s Roman empire was alleged to control as much as a third of the entire world’s economic output
His personal fortune was believed to be about a fifth of that amount That’s roughly $46 trillion dollars, and included personal ownership over the entire country of Egypt But neither Qaddafi nor Crassus nor Augustus hold a candle to the richest man who has ever lived Mansa Musa of Mali has been described as so inconceivably rich that no accurate figure could do justice to his wealth
He ruled Mali during the 14th century, spanning what is today Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and of course Mali His extraordinary fortune came from enormous gold reserves on his territory, which he distributed throughout Africa In particular, one massive pilgrimage he undertook from Mali to Mecca spread his legendary status around the world Masa’s entourage included hundreds of thousands of soldiers, civilians, and slaves, all carrying literally tons of gold Allegedly, his generous distribution of gold created financial crises and mass inflation along his pilgrimage, and he singlehandedly urbanized entire cities, building schools and mosques
Simply put, Mansa Musa was so indescribably rich that there is no frame of reference to estimate his wealth, and he ranks historically as the wealthiest person in history, hands down But while these individuals were known for their fortunes, today, incredible wealth is more often distributed among entire families than singular people One of the most commonly named wealthiest families in the world is the Rothschild family Find out just how much money they have, and who they are, by watching this video to the right Thanks for checking out NowThis World, don’t forget to like and subscribe for more episodes like this every week!