Richest Men of All Time (2023)

When we look at the people who are now household names for one reason or another, do we ask the question, how? Many of these men are people of industry. Some inherited the wealth, others worked towards it. Even by today’s standards, they would be people we would look up to.

Names synonymous with wealth might drive us to envy, nonetheless when we look at the effort it took for them to reach where they are, it should encourage us to work towards the same aspirations. Most of them lived in a time where the world of commerce was changing, and needed change. Here are some of those men.

John D. Rockefeller

Born in Richford, New York on July 8, 1839, John Davison Rockefeller was the second of six children of William A. Rockefeller and Eliza Davison. His greatest influence was his mother Eliza. Young John was behaved properly and seriously attended to his studies without fail. Some of his friends saw him as being earnest, religious, methodical, and reserved. At one time, he had considered music as a profession.

The family moved to Strongsville in 1853, a suburb in Cleveland, Ohio. At the age of sixteen, he worked as an assistant bookkeeper. He had a knack for numbers and accounting. He received fifty cents a day during his first three months. He tithed ten percent to his Baptist church and donated six percent to charity.

He had been quoted as saying, “It was the day that determined my career.” He found himself in the center of post-war prosperity along the expansion to the west made possible by the new railroads and an economy based on fuel.

He is recognized as the first American to have worth more than a billion dollars. He not only set the standard for the petroleum industry, he helped push the envelope in the area of philanthropy. He was faithful in participating in church where he served as clerk, a trustee, taught Sunday school, and janitorial work as needed. He was married in 1864 to Laura Celestia Spelman, with whom he had four daughters and a son.

Adjusted for inflation, John D. Rockefeller’s net worth is reportedly upwards of USD$ 663 billion. To Mr. Rockefeller, his belief in God guided him throughout his career and life, to him; it was the source of his great fortune. He once said, “God gave me money.” which was why he followed an exhortation by John Wesley, “gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”

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Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie, business magnate, steel tycoon, and philanthropist. How would you like those words to be part of your resume? This man born in Dunfermline, Scotland has those words that oft follow his name. Born on November 25, 1835, Andrew and his family migrated to the United States when he was just a child. Allegheny, Pennsylvania became home to the Carnegie household.

Young Andrew took on all types of jobs; the first one was as at a bobbin factory, then as a logger, and as a messenger boy. He later he moved up the ranks at a telegraph company. He made investments into the railroad industry, bridge building, and later accumulated more wealth by selling bonds to fund American businesses in Europe. Because Pennsylvania is known as a steel town, he became a co-founder along with other steel companies and created U.S. Steel.

He was generous with his money, he helped build libraries, gave to schools in America and England. Seen as the second richest man, puts his net worth at USD$ 293 billion.

Cornelius Vanderbilt

The patriarch of the Vanderbilt family, Cornelius Vanderbilt gained his wealth through railroad and shipping enterprises and is seen as one of the richest men in American history. Cornelius was born on May 27, 1794 in Staten Island, New York. At the age of 11 he dropped out of school and worked for his father’s ferry along the New York harbor. When he was sixteen years old, he began his own ferry service in which he parlayed into moving freight and people to and from Manhattan and Staten Island.

He soon became a steamboat entrepreneur servicing businesses in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia in collaboration with other people or on his own. He later started a steamship line that serviced ports in South America. This love for the boats earned him the nickname of “Commodore”.

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The Vanderbilt Empire was built on the commercial transportation industry, which was why he added the railroads as part of that empire. His worth at the time of his death was at USD$ 167 billion.

William Henry Vanderbilt

Inheriting wealth isn’t so bad either. William Vanderbilt’s father, Cornelius Vanderbilt, was known as a railroad and shipping mogul at the time and when he did in 1877, was known as the richest man in the world.

William was born 1821 in New Brunswick, New York. He received early training in business through the help of his father. He worked as a clerk at the age of 19 for a New York bank. He later served for as an executive for several Railway companies. He also helped grow the railroad business for the family. When he retired in 1883, his older sons were given top positions in the railroad empire.

He and his wife, Maria Louisa Kissam, had eight children. William was known as an active philanthropist and an art enthusiast. His worth at the time of his death was USD$231 billion.

John Jacob Astor

John Jacob Astor made his fortune through real estate, fur trading, and opium. He was born on July 17, 1763 in Waldorf, Germany. He arrived in the United States at the end of the revolutionary war in 1784.

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He opened a fur goods shop in the late 1780s in New York City. After the fur trade business, he got involved with real estate in New York City. At the time of his death in 1848, his net worth of USD$20 million dollars (today is worth 116 billion) made him the first multi-millionaire in the USA.

Henry Ford

Who doesn’t know the name Ford? Henry Ford developed the concept of using an assembly line to achieve mass production. Born on a farm near Detroit, Michigan, Henry was born on July 30, 1863.

Using $28,000 dollars as capital, the Ford Motor Company was born in 1903. Among Henry Ford’s accomplishments; he introduced in 1914 the “wage motive”, giving five dollars per day to workers (equivalent to $111.00 per day in today’s economy) at his plant, introduced the Model T in 1908. The Ford legacy continues, today, Ford has a net worth of USD$ 188 billion.

Marcus Licinius Crassus

Reaching back through the sands of time, you have Marcus Licinius Crassus. His fame is not only being recognized as one of the richest men of all time, but he is also a Roman general and a politician. As general he defeated slaves, led by Spartacus, in a revolt.

This is one instance wherein someone profited from the woes of others. The man was ruthless. You might say he was in the real estate business. He bought homes and other types of property from victims of his boss Sulla’s plunder of Rome for almost nothing. Seen as the richest Roman in today’s value is worth USD$ 169 billion.

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Basil II

Basil II or Basil the Bulgarslayer) had been a Byzantine emperor who reigned from 976 to 1025 AD. As emperor of the Macedonian dynasty, he represented the height of the Middle Byzantine Empire. He increased the territories of the empire by the annexation of Bulgaria. This made the empire one of the largest and strongest in five centuries.

In today’s equivalent, Basil II was worth USD$ 169 billion. Because he did not have children, within one hundred years, the Byzantine Empire did not survive.

Frederich Weyerhäuser

Frederich Weyerhäuser emigrated to the United States of America at the age of eighteen from Germany. He was born on November 21, 1834 in Nieder-Saulheim, Rheinhessen. He worked at a sawmill in Rock Island, Illinois. He is recognized as a timber tycoon and founded the Weyerhäuser Company.

His net worth reached, in today’s equivalent, which would be $77 billion dollars. He bought 900,000 acres in 1900 of prime Pacific Northwest timberland. The company continues to be the biggest seller of timber.

Alain Rufus

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A name from across the Atlantic is Alan Rufus; some said was a companion of William the Conqueror during the Norman invasion of Britain. For his participation and allegiance to the realm, he received 250,000 acres worth of land.

The property he received included the areas of Yorkshire, Norfolk, Northhamptonshire, London, and Suffolk. When he died in 1093, all that property was worth 11,000 British pounds, which in today’s equivalent is 81 billion pounds (163 billion US dollars).


Who is the richest man of all time in human history? ›

According to historians, the richest person ever to walk the earth was a man named Mansa Musa, a 14th century West African ruler, whose wealth was simply “indescribable” and “incomprehensible”, per the BBC.

Who are the richest people in all of history? ›

Top 10 Richest People in History:
  1. JAKOB FUGGER. ~ $400 billion.
  2. JOHN ROCKEFELLER. ~ $350 billion.
  3. ANDREW CARNEGIE. ~ $310 billion.
  4. WILLIAM VANDERBILT. ~ $230 billion.
  5. HENRY FORD. ~ $200 billion.
  6. CORNELIUS VANDERBILT. ~ $185 billion.
  7. ALAN RUFUS. ~ $180 billion.
  8. WILLIAM DE WARENNE. ~ $150 billion.
8 Sept 2022

Who was the 1st billionaire? ›

John D Rockefeller was the top oil tycoon of the 19th century, and his savvy business decisions made him tremendously wealthy. John D Rockefeller became one of the wealthiest Americans in history by taking control of the newly born oil industry.

Who is the richest person of universe? ›

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is the co-founder and CEO of Tesla and is currently the richest person in the world, he has a net worth of $191.2 billion.

Who are the 5 richest people who ever lived? ›

Right now, Elon Musk is by far the richest person on earth.
  • John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937)
  • Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
  • Catherine the Great (1729-1796)
  • Augustus Caesar (63BC-14AD)
  • Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)
  • Empress Wu (624-705)
  • Akbar I (1542-1605)
  • Emperor Shenzong (1048-1085)
29 Oct 2022

Who was a trillionaire in history? ›

1. Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan one of the most fearsome conquerors of all time, and by the end of his life the Mongol Empire occupied a vast empire from Central Asia to China. Much of the wealth came from plunders, taxes and control of caravan routes along the Silk Road and provide the Mongols with valuable revenue.

What family has the oldest money? ›

The Vanderbilts are one of America's oldest old money families. The family is of Dutch descent, and rose to prominence during the Gilded Age in the final decades of the 19th century. Cornelius Vanderbilt, born in 1794, grew up in poverty, but managed to marry above him.

Who is the richest family on Earth? ›

At $224.5 billion, the Waltons are the richest family in the world thanks to their massive stake in Walmart, the world's largest company by revenue. The fourth generation of the Mars family, the second-richest clan after the Waltons, currently runs the eponymously named Mars candy company.

Who is a youngest billionaire? ›

Kim Jung-youn, daughter of Nexon-founder Kim Jung-ju, becomes the world's youngest billionaire thanks to her inheritance from her late father. Kim Jung-youn is the world's youngest billionaire, according to reports.

Who is the owner of entire universe? ›

While a handful of countries and wealthy individuals are flexing their cosmic muscles, the fact is that space really belongs to everyone—or perhaps to no one, says Andrea Ballestero, associate professor of anthropology.

Who is the richest girl in the world? ›

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers of France is the richest woman in the world, ranked No. 14 on Forbes' list of billionaires.

Who is the richest female in the world? ›

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers

Who has made the most money in history? ›

  • Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919) ...
  • Marcus Licinius Crassus 'The Rich' (c115–53 BC) ...
  • Nicholas II of Russia (1868–1918) ...
  • Mir Osman Ali Khan (1886–1967) ...
  • William the Conqueror (c1028–87) ...
  • Jakob Fugger (1459–1525) ...
  • Henry Ford (1863–1947) ...
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794–1877)
25 May 2022

Was there ever a trillionaire? ›

No one has yet claimed the title of trillionaire, although the speed at which the world's wealthiest individuals have grown their fortunes suggests that it could happen in just a few years.

Who was the richest person in 1800s? ›

By half decade
1800Thomas Willing
1805Stephen Girard
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Who is the trillion man in the world? ›

In the 36th annual Forbes list of the world's billionaires, the list included 2,668 billionaires with a total net wealth of $12.7 trillion, down 97 members from 2021.
NameMukesh Ambani
Net worth (USD)$90.7 billion
Source(s) of wealthReliance Industries
9 more columns

Who is the richest family in America? ›


The Walton family's wealth began when Sam Walton established the first Walmart in 1962. Today, Walmart is the largest retailer in the world with over 12,000 stores.

How much is Donald Trump worth? ›

How can I become a billionaire by 25? ›

Starting at 18, when you graduate high school, means you would need to earn $391 per day to make it to $1 million by age 25. What about if you don't start until you graduate college? Then you need to earn $685 per day, assuming you graduate at 22 years old, to become a millionaire by 25.

Who found money first? ›

Coins. While the use of metal for money can be traced back to Babylon before 2000 BCE, standardized and certified coinage may not have existed until the 7th century BCE. According to many historians, it was during this time that the kingdom of Lydia (in present-day Turkey) issued the first regulated coins.

Who is the youngest millionaire in history? ›

Bill Gates became the world's youngest-ever billionaire at the age of 31 in 1987. In 1995, he became the world's richest man with a net worth of $12.9 billion.

What is the oldest known family name? ›

Until the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC), people seemed to use matrilineal surnames, but afterward, they had switched to using patrilineal ones. The oldest surname known to have been recorded anywhere in Europe, though, was in County Galway, Ireland, in the year 916. It was the name “O Cleirigh” (O'Clery).

Who is the richest kid in? ›

1. Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (7 years) The title of world's richest kid is held by none other than Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. She is a member of the British royal family and the second child and only daughter of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Who is the richest male kid in the world? ›

As of September 2022, Prince George Alexander Louis has an estimated wealth of $3 billion, making him the richest boy in the world. Prince George of Cambridge, who was born on July 22, 2013, is also the second-wealthiest kid in the world.

How can I get rich in 5 years? ›

How to become wealthy in 5 years: 14 strategies
  1. Become Financially Literate Through Self-Education.
  2. Spend Less, Earn More, Invest the Difference.
  3. Do Something You Love.
  4. Invest in Properties.
  5. Build a Portfolio of Stocks and Shares.
  6. Focus on Contemporary Areas of Growth.
  7. Be An Innovator.
  8. Do Quarterly Goals & Reports.
28 Nov 2022

How can I become so rich? ›

To build wealth you need to have some fundamentals in place:
  1. Money mindset is everything. ...
  2. Millionaires still budget. ...
  3. Money management is key. ...
  4. Invest your money for growth. ...
  5. Build your business around your personal financial goals. ...
  6. Create multiple income streams. ...
  7. Don't check out.
11 Aug 2021

Can a billionaire go broke? ›

Can billionaires become bankrupt? Usually, billionaires and their teams are smart enough to protect their wealth. However, unfavorable situations can make them bankrupt. Adverse economic scenarios, bad investment decisions, or fraud can make billionaires to file for bankruptcy.

Who is the fastest billionaire? ›

Jay Walker – 1 year

Joining the billionaire's club at breakneck speed, entrepreneur and inventor Jay Walker had a net worth of $1.8 billion in the early part of 2000, just a year after he founded discount offers website Then the dotcom bubble burst.

Who is the first billionaire woman? ›

BIOGRAPHY OF OPRAH WINFREY: An Inspiring Story of the First Female Billionaire on Forbes List: E.

Who is the oldest living billionaire? ›

Chang Yun Chung (Chinese: 张允中; 27 August 1918 – 4 September 2020), also known as Teo Woon Tiong, was a Singaporean billionaire and shipping magnate who founded Pacific International Lines (PIL). He was the world's oldest billionaire after the death of David Rockefeller in 2017.
Chang Yun Chung
6 more rows

Who is bigger God or universe? ›

Dear R.R.: Although I know it is very hard for you to imagine, God is bigger than the universe - and one reason is because He created the universe. As the Bible says, ``In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth' (Genesis 1:1).

Who is the God of universe? ›

Vishnu, Lord of the universe, is a Hindu God known to have reincarnated into more than one form called Avatars. In other words, he is recognizable through the faces of other gods who receive praise within the Hindu beliefs. Here we have sculptures of Vishnu and a few of his forms ranging 8th-19th century.

Who is universe First God? ›

God of Creation, Aesthetics and Pure Desire Epitome of knowledge and the Vedas; Creator of the Universe
Member of Trimurti
A roundel with depiction of Brahma, 19th century
Other namesSvayambhu, Virinchi, Prajapati
12 more rows

Who is the youngest lady billionaire? ›

In 2014, Forbes had named Holmes as the world's youngest self-made woman billionaire worth $4.5 billion when she was just 30 years old. Here's all you need to know about Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos scam: 1. Elizabeth Holmes rose to the Silicon Valley fame after founding Theranos in 2003 at age 19.

Who is the richest little girl? ›

A profile of Athina Onassis Roussel, the teenage heiress of a $5 billion fortune left to her by grandfather Aristotle Onassis, the late Greek shipping tycoon.

Who is the richest youngest female? ›

21 on the list is 34-year-old Rihanna, the youngest on the entire tally to have a net worth of more than one billion dollars.

What is the richest country in the world? ›

The United States is the richest country in the world with the highest GDP, as of 2021. China is the second richest country in the world with a $17.734 trillion GDP. Monaco is the richest country in the world when measured by GDP per capita.

Is Rihanna richer than Oprah Winfrey? ›

Rihanna is now worth $1.7 billion, Forbes estimates—making her the wealthiest female musician in the world and second only to Oprah Winfrey as the richest female entertainer.

Who is the world's richest black man? ›

Who Is the Richest Black Person in the World? Born in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote is the richest Black person in the world.

Who will be the 1st trillionaire? ›

Of the 21 individuals who stand a chance of reaching this phenomenal milestone in their lifetime, Elon Musk is predicted to be the first. When the first billionaire was announced in 1916 this colossal figure must have seemed even more unreachable than it is today.

Who is the richest family in history? ›


This is the wealthiest family in history.

Who is first black billionaire? ›

Topline. The most successful entrepreneurs boast a belief in their businesses that can border on arrogance—like that of the world's wealthiest man, Elon Musk—Africa's first black billionaire Patrice Motsepe said Monday during the Forbes Under 30 Summit Africa Summit in Botswana.

Who has trillion in the world? ›

In the 36th annual Forbes list of the world's billionaires, the list included 2,668 billionaires with a total net wealth of $12.7 trillion, down 97 members from 2021.
NameMukesh Ambani
Net worth (USD)$90.7 billion
Source(s) of wealthReliance Industries
9 more columns

Who are the 7 wealthiest families in the world? ›

The top 10 richest families in 2022 by estimated wealth are:
  • The Walton family with $224.5 billion.
  • The Mars family with $160 billion.
  • The Koch family with $128.8 billion.
  • The Al Saud family with $105 billion.
  • The Hermès family with $94.6 billion.
  • The Ambani family with $84.6 billion.
  • The Wertheimer family with $79 billion.
4 days ago

Who is the richest baby ever? ›

The title of world's richest kid is held by none other than Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. She is a member of the British royal family and the second child and only daughter of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Who is the richest American ever lived? ›

contemporary GDP is disputed. Most sources list Andrew Carnegie, but others say Gates, Cornelius Vanderbilt I, John Jacob Astor IV, or Henry Ford. Lower ranks are a matter of even bigger debate. Vanderbilt left a fortune worth $100 million upon his death in 1870 ($2,100,000,000 today).


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