How Much is Too Much? The Richest People of All Time Will Shock You!

RealClear Contributor


Bill Gates is famously the richest man in the world right now, but he's definitely not the wealthiest person of all time. When you adjust the numbers and put everybody's bank account in the same time period, Bill Gates doesn't look so impressive anymore. These are the richest people of all time, and their personal wealth is still absolutely staggering.

Bill Gates

So how rich is the world's richest living man? "Forbes" has estimated his personal wealth at about $78.9 billion, which is so much money it's impossible to even comprehend.

John Jacob Astor

People in the early 1800s were fascinated with John Jacob Astor the way people are fascinated with Bill Gates today. He was America's first multi-millionaire and cornered his own monopoly on the fur market, thus setting the stage for generations of American businessmen. Astor expanded his business interests to New York City real estate way before Donald Trump ever set his sites on Manhattan. Today, he'd have around $138 billion.

Cornelius Vanderbilt

The man who built America’s railroads in the 1800s was a money-making machine. In today's financial terms, he would have about $185 billion.

Henry Ford

Computers are a great racket, and Bill Gates will agree, but Henry Ford would have thought cars are better. He would have just under $200 billion today.

Muammar Gaddafi

Libya's former dictator, who was killed when he was overthrown by his people, wracked up a huge amount of wealth while he was in charge. His personal fortune was estimated at around $200 billion.

William I

Also known in history as William the Conqueror, the Norman King of England greatly expanded his kingdom and his wealth at the turn of the millennium. When he died in 1087, he owned a huge chunk of England's total wealth. In today's terms, that's about $229 billion big ones. His nephew, Alan Rufus, had nearly as much wealth at the time of his death in 1093.

Jacob Fugger

Back in the 1400s and 1500s, most of the world's richest people were royalty because that's how it worked. Not Jacob Fugger. He was a highly successful businessman, and so wealthy he was known as "Fugger the Rich." By today's standards, he'd be worth around $277 billion.

Czar Nicholas

Formally known as Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov, the last czar of Russia was fabulously wealthy in his own time. In our time, he'd have around $300 billion and that's a lot by anybody's standards. he was elected to the sainthood after he was executed in 1918, making him the richest of all the saints...if that's anything.

John D. Rockefeller

In 1880, Standard Oil was responsible for 90 percent of America's oil production -- and it was all owned by one guy. John D. Rockefeller had around $1.5 billion in 1918, and that amount was really shocking in 1918. Put that in today's terms, and John D. would have $341 billion.

Andrew Carnegie

Some have called him the richest American in history, and for good reason. By today's standards, the former owner of U.S. Steel is worth about $372 billion, the equivalent of his $480 million in 1901.

Joseph Stalin

The leader of the USSR once controlled almost 10 percent of the global GDP, which means in 2014 he’d be in charge of about $7.5 trillion. That's trillion, and that completely blows Bill Gates out of the water.

Akbar I

You may not know his name now, but everyone in India knew this ruler in the late 1500s. He controlled around 25 percent of the global GDP at the time. His extreme wealth allowed him to live an incredibly extravagant lifestyle.

Augustus Caesar

The first emperor of Rome at the turn of the first millennium, Augustus Caesar had vast wealth of roughly $4.6 trillion in today's terms. At one point, his personal holdings include all of Egypt. That's really, really rich.

Nathan Mayer Rothschild

When you take care of everyone else's money, you can make a lot of it for yourself. England's Rothschild family found this out, establishing a huge personal fortune and a giant banking dynasty. Nathan Rothschild, a second generation family member, had an estimated personal fortune of around $450 in today's money. The Rothschild family is alive and well today, and has a combined net worth of around $1 trillion.

Mansa Musa

The richest person to ever live was the leader of Mali, known as the King of Timbuktu, and he had so much money we don't even know how much he had. His wealth has been estimated at around $400 billion, but it's impossible to calculate accurately. He ruled a kingdom in Africa that was producing more gold than any other place in the world, at a time when gold was particularly valuable. During his reign, he took a vacation that almost bankrupted the kingdom of Egypt. He had an army so large, it would be a force to be reckoned with even today.



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