Nearly 500 new billionaires joined the ranks of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk last year as the world's richest became $5 trillion richer

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Nearly 500 new billionaires joined the ranks of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk last year as the world's richest became $5 trillion richer
From left: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos; Tesla CEO Elon Musk; LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault; and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates.MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images; Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images; Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images; Elaine Thompson/AP Photo
  • The world's richest are $5 trillion richer than they were one year ago, according to Forbes.
  • Executives like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bernard Arnault all saw massive gains amid the pandemic.
  • Meanwhile, 2020 was a period of economic uncertainty and job losses for millions of people.

2020 was a great year for billionaires.

That's according to Forbes, which released its annual billionaires list on Tuesday. Forbes found that the world's wealthiest people, many of whom are recognizable as the top names in the business world, are $5 trillion richer than they were one year ago.

Here's how the five richest billionaires fared in 2020:

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  • Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, saw his fortune grow from $113 billion in 2020 to $177 billion in 2021
  • Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, saw his net worth rise from $24.6 billion in 2020 to $151 billion in 2021
  • Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, saw his wealth rise from $76 billion in 2020 to $150 billion in 2021
  • Bill Gates, the cofounder of Microsoft, saw his fortune grow from $98 billion in 2020 to $124 billion in 2021
  • Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, saw his net worth rise from $54.7 billion in 2020 to $97 billion in 2021

In the case of Bezos, for example, skyrocketing demand for Amazon's goods and services during the pandemic fueled his wealth gains; for Musk, Tesla's soaring stock price boosted his fortune to new heights, allowing him to jockey with Bezos for the title of world's richest person.

There were also 493 new billionaires forged in the last year, a new one every 17 hours on average, Forbes found. In total, Forbes' list includes 2,755 billionaires.

These staggering jumps in wealth for the world's richest came amid a period of economic uncertainty and job losses for millions of people. Between March 2020 and February 2021, 80 million Americans lost their jobs - from June to November 2020, roughly 8 million people in the US fell below the poverty line.

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