News Advisor Bill Gates the richest man in history? Not even close
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Bill Gates the richest man in history? Not even close

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The mastermind of Microsoft, Bill Gates, has topped the Forbes Rich List as the world’s wealthiest person, with a net worth of around $A84.9 billion.

The tech visionary reclaimed the top spot after a four-year absence, knocking off Mexico’s telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim Helu.

Mr Gates dwarfs the fortune of Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, who Forbes estimates as having a net worth of $17.7 billion.

When you look at Gates’ almost $85 billion fortune against other super rich people from the past, how much is it, really? Well, it’s not as much as it sounds.

Mansa Musa I: $A447 billion

Mansa Musa I, who reigned over West Africa’s Malian Empire in the early 1300s, accumulated his fortune by exploiting his country’s salt and gold resources.

The Rothschild Family: $A391 billion

The Rothschild Family comes in at second on the list. The patriarch of the family, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, raked in hundreds of billions through his finance house in the late 18th Century, and his fortune has passed down through the generations of the banking dynasty.

John D. Rockefeller: $A380 billion

John D. Rockefeller rose to wealth and power in the oil business in the US. He founded the company Standard Oil, and was the first American to be worth more than a billion dollars, which he used to fund philanthropic ventures, universities and medical research.

Andrew Carnegie: $A346 billion

Best known for the eponymous Carnegie Hall in New York, Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish immigrant to the US who amassed vast wealth in the steel industry in the late 19th century. He was also a renowned philanthropist – the famous concert venue named after him was so called because Carnegie paid for its construction.

Tsar Nicholas II: AUD$335 billion

Tsar Nicholas II ruled over Russia during World War I, but was forced to abdicate during the February Revolution of 1917 and later murdered. As the last Emperor of Russia, his hoard of precious jewels, art and palaces fell to the Bolsheviks (Communists).

Osman Ali Khan: $A263 billion

Osman Ali Khan, ruler over the state of Hyderabad in what is now India, was widely believed to be the richest man of his day at the height of his fortunes in the early 1940s.

William the Conqueror: AUD$256 billion

William the Conqueror reigned over England as its first Norman king from 1066 until his death in 1087. His conquest of the English reportedly netted him a vast fortune.

Muammar Gaddafi: AUD$223 billion

It has been reported that, at the time of his death, the Libyan dictator controlled billions in the form of ill-gotten oil money. This figure is doubtful though, as most of the money still belonged to the Libyan government, or was tied up in state-controlled assets. Source: The Richest.com.

It’s likely that some of the biggest fortunes go unreported. Russian President Vladimir Putin is rumoured to have stashed away over $A78 billion – which, if true, would put him at third place behind Bill Gates and Carlos Slim Helu. This is despite his official declarations amounting to a net worth of less than $A559,000.

But he’s still fairly comfortable. If Bill Gates decided to go on history’s biggest ever spending spree, here’s what he could buy:

4.8 Gina Rineharts

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Gina Rinehart has made a fortune from mineral exports. Photo: Contributed

2 Turkmenistans

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Turkmenistan was once part of the Soviet Union. Photo: Contributed.

141,500 Ferrari 458 Spiders

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Ferraris are some of the world’s most sought after vehicles. Photo: Getty Images

566 Collingwood Football Clubs

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Collingwood is perhaps the nation’s most famous sporting club. Photo: Getty Images

237 White Houses

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The Whitehouse, seat of power in the USA. Photo: Getty Images

77 Parliament Houses

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Parliament House in Canberra dates from the late 1980s. Photo: Getty Images

8 million Rolex watches

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A Rolex watch is considered one of the symbols of affluence. Photo: Getty Images

All figures are converted to Australian dollars at the conversation rate of 5 March 2014, and account for modern inflation.

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