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Most expensive divorce? Jeff Bezos may soon lose 'richest man' title as Bill Gates narrows gap

Amazon's Jeff Bezos's wealth has fallen from over $150 billion to $109 billion this year due to a costly divorce that may now cost him the title of the 'world's richest man'.

Most expensive divorce? Jeff Bezos may soon lose 'richest man' title as Bill Gates narrows gap

Monday August 26, 2019 , 2 min Read

The billionaire battle continues to hit headlines. After all, nothing stirs people's curiosity as much as the lives of the 'rich and famous'. At present, rich-and-famous tech entrepreneurs, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, are engaged in a valuation battle.

Bezos, the world's richest man, is trying to retain his position, while Gates, who trails him by just $4 billion — the narrowest margin ever — is on his way to reclaim the title (the Microsoft founder had been the world's richest man until mid-2017 when the Amazon founder surpassed him).

Bezos's fortune has dropped $15.7 billion in 2019. Gates, on the other hand, has grown his wealth by $14.2 billion this year. According to the latest Bloomberg Billionaires Index, their net worth stands at $109 billion and $105 billion, respectively.

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

The Amazon founder's fortune had grown by over $50 billion in 2018 as the company stock soared on the New York Stock Exchange. The wealth erosion began this April when his net worth dropped from over $150 billion to $115 billion following the announcement of his divorce from Mackenzie Bezos, his wife of 25 years.

As part of the divorce settlement, Mackenzie gained 25 percent of Jeff's Amazon stake amounting to $35.6 billion. This not only made her one of the largest stakeholders in the retail-to-technology behemoth but also the third-richest woman in the world.

She, however, left him his stakes in privately-owned space exploration company Blue Origin and media giant The Washington Post. Interestingly, The Post is said to have staged a turnaround since Bezos acquired the newspaper in 2013 for $250 million.

Meanwhile, in March 2019, Gates became only the second man after Bezos to own a $100-billion fortune. The Microsoft founder could have been richer though.

Gates has donated more than $35 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation he runs with his wife. He has further pledged at least half of his wealth to charity. 

He was briefly overtaken by the Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (the world's largest maker of luxury goods) in July.

But, given Microsoft's stock is on the rise (it is already up by 37 percent since the start of the year) following the software giant's upbeat fourth-quarter earnings report, Gates will likely surpass Bezos soon. And, reclaim his title of the 'world's richest man'.

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)