1. Carlos Slim Helu, $74 billion
For the second straight year, Slim has been estimated by Forbes to be the world’s richest person. The 71-year-old calls Mexico City home and is the chairman of Telmex and owner of American Movil, a leading wireless company in Latin America. Slim was the largest gainer among the super rich, according to Forbes, increasing his wealth by $20.5 billion buoyed in part by a strong Mexican stock market.
2. Bill Gates, $56 billion
No stranger to this list, Gates has enjoyed his own time atop the chart, but for the last two years has occupied the second chair to category leader Slim. Gates spends most of his time giving money away these days, but still holds a healthy portfolio. Allied with his wife Melinda, the pair have donated an estimated $30 billion of their fortune to The Gates Foundation, according to Forbes.
3. Warren Buffett, $50 billion
If you had read every book on stock investing by the time you were 12, you might also be in a similar position as Buffett, who is another familiar face in the world ranking of really rich guys. With 15 percent growth in his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett added a cool $3 billion to his pile, according to Forbes. But like his friend Gates, Buffett is also a leader in philanthropic efforts. Oh, and he owns a railroad — Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
4. Bernard Arnault, $41 billion
The richest European, Arnault vaults to No. 4 on the world list. A renewed taste for luxury items has helped as Arnault’s fortune ballooned by an estimated $13.5 billion according to Forbes. The 62-year-old is chairman of the group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), which saw shares grow by half as consumers increased their interest in such brands as Dom Perignon and Tag Heuer.
5. Larry Ellison, $39.5 billion
His greatest passion these days might be competitive sailing, and Ellison holds the sport’s grandest prize — the America’s Cup. The next international regatta will be held in San Francisco in 2013. Ellison is still a major player in world business, though, as shown by his software company Oracle seeing a 30 percent bump in stock price. Ellison reportedly earned $960 million in executive compensation over the last five fiscal years, but has since dropped that amount to $1.
6. Lakshmi Mittal, $31.1 billion
Being chairman of the world’s largest steel company has helped to propel Mittal to the sixth slot in the ranking of the world’s most well-to-do. The 61-year-old started in the family’s steel business in his native India in the 70s but later branched out to expand into Eastern Europe. Recovery in the steel market helped produce net profits of $2.9 billion in 2010 for Arcelor Mittal, according to Forbes, and the company is underwriting a 377-foot sculpture in London’s Olympic Park for the 2012 Summer Games.
7. Amancio Ortega, $31 billion
Though no longer chairman of the fashion behemoth Inditex, Ortega still enjoys earning power that places him with the global elite. Forbes estimates the Spaniard derives 87 percent of his income from his holdings in Inditex, which has 5,000 stores in 77 countries and operates under brands like Zara and Stradivarius. Ortega, who is pictured with daughter Marta, began in the fashion business by making lingerie and dressing gowns in his living room with then-wife Rosalia.