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Elon Musk is no longer the richest person in the world

A man speaks into a microphone.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk addresses the Offshore Northern Seas 2022 meeting in Stavanger, Norway, on Aug. 29, 2022. | Carina Johansem/NTB/AFP via Getty Images | Source: Carina Johansen/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk is no longer the wealthiest human being on the planet—for now. On Thursday, Forbes’ real-time rating of the 150 richest people and families showed the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has dropped to second place. 

Bernard Arnault, the chairman and co-CEO of French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, holds the top spot.

This is not a static rank, as both men’s total wealth hovers around $185 billion. Minor fluctuations in their vast stock holdings could lead either one to temporarily surpass the other by gaining or shedding several hundred million dollars in a single morning. 

Musk falling to second is notable largely because his rise through the rankings has been impressive. He first entered the list of the world’s ultra-richest list in 2012, when he was worth a paltry—relatively speaking—$2 billion. Between early 2020 and late 2021, his wealth increased by about 15-fold, from $25 billion to more than $300 billion.

Analysts have blamed much of the subsequent drop on his 2022 purchase of Twitter. That controversial acquisition appears to have led to a depreciation in the value of Tesla, whose stock comprises a large portion of Musk’s fortune. 

Managerial missteps and a reported loss of Twitter’s advertisers may have also contributed to Musk’s reduced status. The two energy healers who flew to San Francisco last month intending to help the self-described Chief Twit through this turbulent phase appear not to have succeeded in their mission.

And for all the reports of Musk’s wealth cratering, the Bay Area tech founder who truly saw his net-wealth plummet was Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, who has lost $100 million this year alone.

Further, the title of “World’s Richest Person” can effectively only be conferred on individuals whose wealth conforms to the standards of the Western banking system. In actuality, Russian president Vladimir Putin or the Saudi royal family may be far more affluent.

On the Forbes list, India’s Gautam Adani holds third place, followed by a familiar who’s who of American mega-billionaires: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and the two Google cofounders.

Astrid Kane can be reached at