The 2011 Billionaires List (25th annual Ranking) compiled by the Forbes Magazine has broken two records. First, the total number of listed billionaires (1,210) and the combined amount of their wealth ($4.5 trillion).
The 25th annual ranking of the richest billionaires on the planet was based on the reporting of 50 journalists across 13 countries. These reporters not just met with these candidates and those associated with them, but also minutely track their moves such as the deals they negotiate, their real estate transactions, their luxury purchases and the causes they give to.
The final net worth of these billionaires are based on a valuation of the individual assets, including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash.
While the U.S. still continues to top the list with more than 490 billionaires, Asian billionaires pushed Europe back and are now second to the U.S.
One thing that is being reinforced by the 2011 ranking is the shift in global economic power with a sharp increase in the number of billionaires from the emerging BRIC economies. The number of billionaires from China almost doubled to 115, while with 101 and 30 representations respectively, Russia and Brazil saw a two-thirds jump. India had 55, which is six more than last year's representation.
The top ten list, though it has not changed much in composition from last year, has seen some significant repositioning within; the only newcomer, however, is Christy Walton (and family) of Walmart-fame, who moved up two slots from #12 to replace Karl Albrecht.
Start slideshow to view a gallery of the 10 richest billionaires in the world today.