The number of billionaires in the world has soared by 30 per cent in just a year – in stark contrast to millions who have lost their livelihoods during the pandemic.
A total of 2,755 people now share a huge combined wealth of £9.54 trillion, it has emerged – up from £5.83 trillion a year ago.
This is a rise of 660, with newcomers including four of the UK’s 85 billionaires, the latest Forbes Rich List reveals.
Despite the economic misery the pandemic has unleashed, someone now reaches $1 billion in personal wealth every 17 hours, Forbes says.
Amazon owner Jeff Bezos is in the world’s top spot, with a wealth of nearly £129 billion, while Tesla boss Elon Musk is in second place.
According to Forbes the richest UK-based person is Ukranian businessman Len Blavatnik, whose £23.3 billion private wealth makes him the 46th richest person in the world.
Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green and wife Tina are in 1,299th place in the world, with an estimated value of £1.75 billion.
The UK’s newcomers
Matt Moulding , founder of The Hut Group, is the highest newcomer on the list, with Forbes estimating him to be the 1,064th richest person on the planet, with a £2.11 billion fortune.
Also joining the list is José Neves , CEO of UK-based online luxury fashion platform Farfetch.
The 46-year-old is worth around £1.82 billion.
Peter Kelly , who set up IT provider Softcat from his garden shed in 1993, has a $1.3 billion personal wealth – which works out around £950 million in UK money.
Lidiya Mikhailova and her sons, who run meat provider the Cherkizovo Group, own the same eye-watering sum.
The five richest people in the UK
According to Forbes, Sir Len Blavatnik , who was knighted in 2017 for his services to philanthropy, is the wealthiest person in the UK, with a fortune of $32 billion – which works out at £23.3 billion.
This makes him the world’s 46th richest person.
He made his fortune through investments made by his company, Access Industries.
He is followed by James Ratcliffe , 68, founder, chairman and majority owner of chemical powerhouse Ineos Group.
His £12.4 billion fortune makes him the 113th wealthiest person in the world.
Third richest in the UK is Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and her family, who owns a 23 per cent stake in beer giant Heineken.
Forbes estimates her wealth at around £12.16 billion.
In fourth place is Mikhal Fridman , who controls Alfa Group and LetterOne. The Ukranian businessman, who lives in London, founded Alfa Bank, which is the largest non-state controlled bank in Russia.
Mr Fridman is estimated to have a fortune of £11.3 billion, making him the 128th richest person in the world.
The UK’s fifth-richest people are the Hinduja brothers , Srichand, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok.
They control the Hinduja Group conglomerate, which is headquartered in London, and are worth an estimated £10.86 billion.