Mental Floss

The Quick 10: The 10 Richest People Ever

Stacy Conradt
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You always hear about how rich Bill Gates is, how rich Oprah is, how rich J.K. Rowling is. But none of them even make the top 10 richest people of all time. Compiled by Forbes magazine, this a list of the wealthiest people ever (EVAR!). They ranked these bazillionaires (my term, not theirs) according to the total GDP of the nation they lived in and adjusted their net worths to account for inflation as of 2007.

rocky
rocky /

2. Andrew Carnegie's steel company earned him about $298.3 billion. Nothing to sneeze at. I recently visited his grave in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and was surprised at how modest it was for a billionaire. Watch for more on my trip to the home of the Headless Horseman in a few weeks!

3. Nicholas II of Russia. $253.5 billion, inherited from his dad, Alexander III, who was the previous Emperor of Russia.

vanderbilt
vanderbilt /

5. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII was worth $210.8 billion. He was the last ruler of Hyderabad, which was invaded and annexed by India in 1948. In 1937, Time magazine named Osman Ali the richest man in the world.

6. Andrew Mellon, $188.8 billion. Dude was destined to accumulate wealth: by 17, he had already started his own lumber company. At 17, I was working part-time as a clerk at a drug store and wearing a really sweet mauve smock (that's right: mauve). By 1889, Mellon had expanded to shipbuilding, construction, steel and oil.

7. Henry Ford, $188.1 billion, a fortune was amassed thanks to Ford Motor Company, of course.

8. Marcus Licinius Crassus, $169.8 billion. Never heard of him? That's because he lived more than 2000 years ago. He was a Roman general and politician and the man who suppressed Spartacus' slave uprising. He acquired his wealth through inheritance, slave ownership, land ownership and various mining prospects.

10. Cornelius Vanderbilt, $167.4 billion, courtesy of the New York and Harlem Railroad and the shipping industry.

Other notables to make the list include:
#15, Elizabeth I - $142.9 billion.
#17, Sam Walton - $128 billion.
#20, Bill Gates - $101 billion.
#22, Cleopatra "“ $95.8 billion.
#39, Warren Buffett "“ $62 billion.

#45, J. Paul Getty - $50.1 billion.
#52, Howard Hughes "“ $43.4 billion.
#83, Queen Elizabeth II "“ $43.4 billion.
#116, John Hancock, $19.3 billion.
#181, Ben Franklin, $10.3 billion.
#190, Rupert Murdoch, $9 billion.

And Oprah? Oprah is only worth about $2.7 billion. But she's only 54 "“ she's still got time to crack the top 200. J.K. Rowling is said to have $1.1 billion at the young age of 43. With three more Harry Potter movies and the theme park yet to open, I predict that she's definitely in the top 200 by the time she is 50, if not sooner.

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