The World’s 10 Richest Billionaires Lose $38 Billion On Coronavirus-Spurred ‘Black Monday’
Following a week of steep market losses amid mounting coronavirus fears, the world's 10 richest people lost a combined $37.7 billion on Monday, as the S&P 500 and Dow Jones each sunk nearly 8%. Nine of the 10 billionaires took a multi-billion dollar hit on a day market pundits and social media users quickly dubbed "Black Monday," in reference to the infamous stock market crash of October 1987.
The day's biggest loser in both dollar and percentage terms was luxury goods kingpin Bernard Arnault, whose fortune plunged $6 billion, or 6%. The CEO of Paris-listed LVMH and the world's third-wealthiest person, Arnault closed the day with a net worth of $92.6 billion compared to $98.6 billion on Friday.
The richest person on the planet, Jeff Bezos, lost $5.6 billion by the day's market close, piling on to his losses of $14.1 billion last week. Amazon stock fell more than 5% on Monday, closing at a two-month low. Meanwhile, legendary investor Warren Buffett’s fortune fell $5.4 billion. Buffett called the coronavirus “scary stuff” in a CNBC interview two weeks ago, adding that the outbreak was “front and center” the main threat to U.S. companies and the economy. Shares of his storied conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway have since fallen to their lowest point in a year, making him the day's third-biggest loser.
Mexico telecom magnate Carlos Slim had the top 10's fourth-largest drop, losing nearly $5 billion, or 8% of his fortune, to end the day with a net worth of $56.4 billion. Elsewhere abroad, Spain's Amancio Ortega lost almost $4 billion. The founder and former chair of Zara-parent Inditex is now worth $67.5 billion.
Concerns regarding coronavirus-related advertising have muddied the market waters for leading tech giants Facebook and Alphabet, hitting the fortunes of their megarich founders. Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page lost $4.2 billion and $3.3 billion, respectively, on Monday. Page's fellow Google cofounder Sergey Brin dropped out of the world’s top 10 after losing $3.1 billion.
Some billionaires have taken action. In a bold move to combat the spread of coronavirus, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, along with wife Melinda, announced in February that their foundation was committing up to $100 million to fund response efforts. "Given the economic pain that an epidemic can impose—just look at the way COVID-19 is disrupting supply chains and stock markets, not to mention people’s lives—it will be a bargain," Gates wrote in a note about the virus at the end of last month. His fortune, which consists of Microsoft stock and other public and private holdings, fell $3.8 billion on Monday.
Even stocks lauded as coronavirus-immune couldn't fight off Monday's market sting. Despite an analyst upgrade to Oracle stock last week (citing strong recurring revenue), founder Larry Ellison's net worth fell $1.8 billion after the Silicon Valley firm's shares edged down 3%.
The only billionaire fortune in the top ranks that held steady belonged to Michael Bloomberg—but that’s because his wealth is tied up in Bloomberg LP, a privately held company that doesn’t trade on the market. Had shares of the former presidential candidate's firm been trading on Monday, they too may have fallen in value.
Here's how the world's 10 richest fared after the day's market turmoil, according to Forbes' Real-Time Billionaire rankings:
1. Jeff Bezos, Amazon, United States
Down $5.6 billion
2. Bill Gates, Microsoft, United States
Down $3.8 billion
3. Bernard Arnault & family, LVMH, France
Down $6.0 billion
4. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, United States
Down $5.4 billion
5. Amancio Ortega, Zara, Spain
Down $2.8 billion
6. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, United States
Down $4.2 billion
7. Larry Ellison, Oracle, United States
Down $1.8 billion
8. Carlos Slim Helu & family, Grupo Carso, Mexico
Down $4.8 billion
9. Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg LP, United States
10. Larry Page, Google, United States
Down $3.3 billion