KEY POINTS

  • Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos usually hold the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in list of world's wealthiest people
  • Gates has been among the world's wealthiest for much of the past 24 years
  • Bezos lost some of his wealth this year due to his divorce settlement

Amazon (AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is likely to lose more wealth than any other human being on the planet, but he still remains the second wealthiest person in the world.

Bloomberg reported that since his divorce from MacKenzie Bezos in January, his net worth dropped by $13.6 billion to about $111 billion -- as his ex-wife received one-fourth of his stake in the online retail giant. Still his current net worth ranked him second richest person in the world as of Dec. 22, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index indicates.

Under terms of the divorce settlement, Bezos’ stake in Amazon dropped from 16% to 12%, but he nonetheless retained all the voting rights associated with his original 16% share in the company.

Meanwhile, at the top spot on the billionaires list, with a net worth of $113 billion is Microsoft (MSFT) cofounder Bill Gates. Coming after Bezos in third place was Bernard Arnault ($104 billion), the chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vutton S.E.

The Frenchman was followed by legendary investor Warren Buffett ($89.3 billion) and Facebook (FB) boss Mark Zuckerberg ($78.7 billion)

As the top three billionaires with similar networths, Gates, Bezos and Arnault exchange places at the peak of the rich list from month to month or even week to week.

For example, on Nov. 15, Gates replaced Bezos as the richest man in the world with a net worth of $110 billion. In late October, Bezos had held down the top spot.

Interestingly, Microsoft defeated Amazon in the marketplace earlier this year when it secured a $10 billion, 10-year cloud computing contract with the Pentagon. Amazon filed a lawsuit contesting the U.S. Defense Department's decision to award the massive contract to Microsoft, alleging anti-Amazon bias by the administration.

In mid-December, Arnault briefly surpassed Bezos and Gates as the world’s wealthiest man, Forbes reported. Arnaut’s luxury conglomerate LVMH, which recently acquired Tiffany, has seen its shares surge about 58% year to date.

Arnault himself suffered a one-day loss of about $1.6 billion in early December when U.S. President Donald Trump said he would slap heavy tariffs on luxury French goods like Louis Vuitton bags and Moët champagne in retaliation for the French targeting digital taxes against U.S. tech firms.

Since 1995, Gates has usually been tagged as the world’s richest human – he held that title unchallenged until 2008, when Buffet passed him. But Gates recovered first place the next year. Then, from 2011 to 2013, Gates slipped to second place behind Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Gates again recovered to hold first place until Bezos surpassed him for the first time in 2017.

While Gates has donated billions of dollars to charities and has vowed to give away most of his wealth before he dies, Bezos has been criticized for not donating more of his immense wealth.

In late November, after Bezos made a $98.5 million donation to groups assisting the homeless, the U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that Bezos’ donation to the homeless represented only 0.09% of his net worth. Corbyn hammered Bezos again by imploring him to “just pay your taxes,” a reference to the fact that Amazon paid no federal taxes for 2018, despite generating more than $11 billion in profits.

Bezos donated $131 million in 2018 – but that paled in comparison to Buffett who distributed $3.4 billion to charity that year while Bill and Melinda Gates donated $2.6 billion.