The Richest People of All-Time: Rockefeller & Carnegie Battle It Out for the Top Spot

Yesterday we published a new article with the updated 2012 list of the Top 25 People in the World. Now we are looking at the Top 20 Richest People of All-Time! Can you name anyone on the list before you see it? Here it is:

1. John D. Rockefeller Fortune: $336 billion

Source of wealth: He founded Standard Oil in 1870, at the age of 31, and bought up most of the oil refineries in the United States, eventually controlling about 90% of the American oil business.

2. Andrew Carnegie Fortune: $309 billion

Source of wealth: Carnegie invested in the steel business when the market was booming, eventually ending up at the head of the U.S. Steel empire.

3. William the Conquer Peak fortune: $209 billion

Source of wealth: Was called William the Bastard until he led the last successful foreign invasion of England in 1066. Although he became a monarch, we’re counting the spoils of war before he took the throne, based on what he gave out to his sons Odo and Robert.

4. Cornelius Vanderbilt Fortune: $185 billion

Source of wealth: In 1862, he began to buy railroad lines. Although already 70 years old, his wealth mostly comes from this business of the 19th century. Prior to that, he was known as a cold-blooded steam-boat entrepreneur.

5. Alan Rufus Fortune: $149 billion

Source of wealth: A Norman who joined William The Conqueror in the invasion of Britain in the 11th century, Alan “The Red” had 250,000 acres of land from Yorkshire to London. He also owned Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire, which, for the time, was considered very comfortable.

6. Bill Gates Peak fortune: $136 billion

Source of wealth: Founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. He held onto shares as Microsoft dominated the age of computers, peaking in personal wealth at the top of the Dot Com Bubble.

7. William de Warenne Peak fortune: $134 billion

Source of wealth: Originally from Normandy, William I de Warenne participated in the battle of Hastings and was rewarded with properties in Sussex, Northfolk and Yorkshire. He became the first Earl of Surrey.

8. John Jacob Aster Peak fortune: $121 billion

Source of wealth: A successful fur trader, he established a near monopoly within the U.S. by around 1800. He subsequently switched trades and went on to investing in real estate, focusing on New York City.

9. Richard Fitzalan 10th Earl of Arundel Peak fortune: $108 billion

Source of wealth: The Earl of Arundel and quite the military leader. He fought in the Scottish Independence wars and in the Hundred Years’ War. Subsequent Earls of Arundel — his sons — would make this list, but we’re only counting that money once.

10. Stephen Girard Peak fortune: $105 billion

Source of wealth: Successful in the shipping trade, he was a French-born American merchant who went into the banking business later in his life, owning a bank that was called “Girard’s Bank”.

11. John of Gaunt Peak fortune: $101 billion

Source of wealth: Richard II’s regent during much of the latter’s rule and the father of Henry Bolingbroke (who would eventually come back from exile to depose Richard and take the English throne into his hands). One of Shakespeare’s meekest characters.

12. A.T. Stewart Peak fortune: $88.9 billion

Source of wealth: An American entrepreneur, he founded the first department store in lower Manhattan and subsequently expanded his retail business.

13. Frederick Weyerhaeuser Peak fortune: $79.4 billion

Source of wealth: He founded Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the biggest timber companies in the United States, after he arrived to America from Germany in the 19th century.

14. Henry Duke of Lancaster Peak fortune: $77.5 billion

Source of wealth: English diplomat, noble, soldier, and founding member of the Order of the Garter.. He is remembered today for his peace talks with France and for being a patron of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

15. Carlos Slim Peak fortune: $74.5 billion

Source of wealth: Many. He is most famous, however, for having big holdings in major telecom companies, especially America Movil, one of the largest corporations in Latin America.

16. Jay Gould Peak fortune: $71.2

Source of wealth: Railroad baron and gold speculator, Jay Gould masterminded the 19th century transportation boom in America. He and financier James Fisk also bought up a dominating share of the gold market at the time – enough to directly affect market movements during Gould’s lifetime.

17. Stephen Van Rensselaer Peak fortune: $68.5

Source of wealth: Major of the US Militia and member of the New York State Assembly, Rensselaer was also heir to one of the most well-endowed estates in the US. He founded the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a portion of his wealth.

18. Marshall Field Peak fortune: $66.1 billion

Source of wealth: He started the retail store chain Marshall Field and Co. in Chicago during the Civil War.

19. Sam Walton Peak fortune: $64.5 billion

Source of wealth: Founded Walmart in 1962 and lived a famously humble life. As Walmart keeps growing, Walton’s four children have individual fortunes around $20 billion each.

20. Warren Buffett Peak fortune: $63.9 billion

Source of wealth: Investments. The Oracle of Omaha joined Berkshire Hathaway as chairman in 1970 and hasn’t looked back. He has pledged to give away 99 percent of his money.

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