The Richest People in History

Who are the richest people in history? While putting the wealth of ancient kings against the dollar is not an easy task, Titlemax attempted the impossible, and we think they created a pretty good list of the top contenders for the wealthiest folks ever.

So really, who was the richest person of all time?

Well, most probably, Augustus Caesar, the Roman emperor who was estimated to have the biggest net worth ever ($4.6 trillion in today’s dollars). He alone owned a fifth of the wealth of an empire that accounted for about 30% of the gross domestic product of the whole world.

But there are others contenders, too:

Emperor Shenzong of China was also the leader of an empire that accounted for 30% of the world’s GDP at the time and valued in the trillions. He possibly had the highest net worth ever, but it’s difficult to separate his personal wealth from his country’s, ranking him lower on our list.

King Solomon of Israel: His net worth would have been valued in the trillions – if you take the Bible as fact. He demanded about 25 tons of gold from his subjects every year, which eventually lead to his tragic downfall.

Gengis Khan was also one of history’s most profitable and terrifying emperors. There are many net worth estimates for him flying around, with some sources claiming his wealth equals the modern-day value of hundreds of trillions of dollars. Others think most of Genghis’ wealth was the extreme amount of land he ruled, rather than great personal wealth. Either way, he’s certainly a contender for the richest person to ever live.

Jakob Fugger — You probably haven’t heard about this Catholic, German, Renaissance-era mogul, despite being worth an estimated $400 to $500 billion. He had his hands on the copper and textile industries in merchant-based Italy and even dealt out loans to famous royals from the House of Habsburg. He also started what many consider as the first European welfare housing program, the Fuggerei (with only Catholics being allowed entry).

Mansa Musa was an African king who was considered to be the richest man of the world by his contemporaries, even though they could not even estimate his wealth. How much would he be worth today? With camel-loads of gold and salt, Mansa Musa’s net worth has been valued by modern-day scholars to be around $400 to $415 billion in modern money.

John D. Rockefeller is one of the richest people of the modern era, with his $1.4 billion in olden-day money being worth several hundred billion today. According to some estimates, he would be worth around $400 billion today. For scale, that’s three times more than today’s richest person, Jeff Bezos.

Andrew Carnegie once said: “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.” Carnegie didn’t exactly die a billionaire, as he gave away a large part of his wealth to over 3,500 public libraries. However, his net worth at his richest was valued in today’s dollars between $300 and $372 billion.

Nicholas II of Russia — The revolutionaries considered their monarch to be the richest person in history. He indeed spent wildly: His allotment of 24 million rubles was usually spent by the end of the year.

Osman Ali Khan, the nizam of Hyderbad, who used the world-famous Jacob Diamond as a paperweight, was named the wealthiest person ever by Time Magazine.

The richest American ever is widely considered to be John D. Rockefeller, mentioned above and worth about $400 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, or about 2% of the United States GDP. Members of his family continue to be some of the wealthiest people in U.S. history.

Today, Jeff Bezos is considered to be the richest person in the world, valued at a whopping $125.8 billion. His Amazon business has taken the world by storm, and he has enough to invest in a space program. Yet, surprisingly Bezos makes a fraction of what John D. Rockefeller and many others on this list made.


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