he total number of billionaires in Europe and their aggregate wealth has dropped over the past year, Forbes has found, driven by the sharp decline in the number of billionaires and their fortunes in sanction-hit Russia.
Out of a global total of 2,668 billionaires worth $12.7 trillion on Forbes’ 2022 list of the World’s Billionaires, Europe accounts for 592 billionaires, down from 628 a year ago. The combined wealth of European billionaires has fallen from last year’s $3 trillion highpoint to $2.8 trillion, driven down by a single global hotspot.
The Russian war in Ukraine, the weakened Russian ruble and lower estimated values for Russian companies resulted in the number of Russian billionaires falling to 83 from 117 last year. The remaining Russian billionaires are worth $320 billion, a whopping $263 billion less than a year ago. Six of Russia’s richest people have lost more than $10 billion each, Forbes estimates. For more on Russia’s billionaires, see here. (Forbes calculated net worths using stock prices and currency exchange rates from Friday, March 11, 2022– a point in time when the Russian stock market was closed. It has since reopened, with numerous trading restrictions, and some stocks have rebounded.)
he European country with the most billionaires this year: Germany, with 134 worth a collective $608 billion. France remains a billionaire hotspot as well–especially for its luxury and fashion super maisons; the total wealth of the nation’s 43 billionaires has risen 7% since last year to $550 billion. Sweden, meanwhile, is the darkhorse: from a country of just 10 million people, there are 45 billionaires.
In the U.K. it’s not so much British entrepreneurs who are thriving, but London-based businesses with founders from overseas. Switzerland’s Guillaume Pousaz, founder of London-based payments fintech Checkout.com, became Europe’s richest tech entrepreneur, worth an estimated $23 billion, following an investment round in January. Estonia minted its first billionaire in Kristo Käärmann, cofounder of London-based cross-border payments startup Wise, while Revolut, the London-based digital banking startup, has continued gaining value with Russian-born Nikolay Storonsky hitting $7.1 billion and his Ukrainian cofounder Vlad Yatsenko worth $1.1 billion.
The Old & The New
Europe is home to the world’s third richest person, LVMH chief Bernard Arnault, who–with a $158 billion fortune–sits behind number one ranked Elon Musk with $219 billion, and number two Jeff Bezos with $171 billion. High-flyers Francoise Bettencourt Meyers of L’Oreal fame and Amancio Ortega of the Zara fashion retail empire sit at positions 14th and 23th richest in the world, respectively. Bettencourt Meyers is the richest woman in the world.
The ten wealthiest European billionaires on Forbes’ 2022 list are worth a collective $590 billion, up by $38 billion in the past year. In comparison, the top ten richest U.S. billionaires are worth a total of $1.2 trillion, showing the big difference between tech when it comes to billionaire wealth at the very top. Seven of the top ten U.S. billionaires are tech tycoons who made their money in the years following the mass adoption of personal computing, the internet and social media. Europe, by comparison, has no tech billionaires in its top 10.
Europe’s Top Ten Richest, 2022
1. Bernard Arnault, France, $158 billion
2. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, France, $74 billion
3. Amancio Ortega, Spain, $59 billion
4. Dieter Schwarz, Germany, $47 billion
5. Rodolphe Saade, France, $41 billion
6. Francois Pinault, France, $40 billion
7. Klaus Michael Kuehne, Germany, $37 billion
8. Beate Heister & Karl Albrecht Jr, Germany, $36 billion
9. Giovanni Ferrero, Italy, $36 billion
10. Alain Wertheimer, France, $31 billion
10. Gerard Wertheimer, France, $31 billion
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 11 vs 12 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $61.7 billion vs $62.7 billion in 2021
Red Bull cofounder Dietrich Mateschitz remains the country’s richest person, up $500 million to an estimated $27.4 billion during a year that also saw the Red Bull F1 team win a thrilling world title on the final lap of the season’s final race. Austrian builder and investor Georg Stumpf was the country’s biggest gainer, adding $1.4 billion to his estimated net worth over the last 12 months. Gaston Glock of Austrian gun manufacturer Glock GmbH is the one billionaire from Austria to fall off the list.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 9 vs 9 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $49 billion vs $41.4 billion in 2021
Renáta Kellnerová, the widow of billionaire Petr Kellner (who died in a helicopter crash last year), inherits his place as the richest person in Czech Republic. Former Prime Minister Andrej Babis has enjoyed a good year, up $900 million to an estimated $3.5 billion.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 9 vs 10 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $57 billion vs. $61.3 billion in 2021
Retail tycoon Anders Holch Povlsen continues as the country’s richest person. The Lego dynasty of Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, Sofie Kirk Kristiansen, Thomas Kirk Kristiansen and Agnete Kirk Thinggaard remains the richest family in the country and represents $32.8 billion of Denmark’s $57 billion total billionaire wealth.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 43 vs. 42 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $550 billion vs. $512.2 billion in 2021
France’s enormous billionaire wealth is driven by the most famous names in luxury, beauty and fashion–Bernard Arnault (LVMH), Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (L’Oréal), François Pinault (Kering) and the Wertheimer brothers (Chanel) alone represent $335 billion of the country’s total billionaire wealth. One new billionaire since last year: Laurent Junique, the CEO and founder of Singapore-based call center and business process outsourcing firm TDCX. Danielle Bellon & family are also new, inheriting the fortune of her husband Pierre Bellon, who died in February.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 134 vs 136 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $608 billion vs. $625 billion in 2021
Dieter Schwarz, best known for Europe’s low cost supermarket giant Lidl, has enjoyed a successful year, boosting his estimated net worth by over $10 billion to $47.1 billion. Logistics magnate Klaus-Michael Kuehne has emerged as one of the richest people in Europe, up $11 billion in a year to an estimated $37.3 billion thanks to his stake in Kühne + Nagel, the shipping empire founded by his grandfather. Christian Angermayer, who invests in life sciences, fintech, AI, psychedelics and cryptocurrencies, is one of seven new German billionaires.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 9 vs. 9 in 2021
TOTAL WEALTH: $54.8 billion vs. $42.9 billion in 2021
The rise in billionaire wealth in Ireland comes from one business and two brothers–payments unicorn Stripe and the Collison brothers, John and Patrick, who are worth an estimated $9.5 billion each–up from $3.2 billion each on the 2021 list–following an investment round in March last year that valued their powerhouse company at $95 billion. Once again construction tycoon Pallonji Mistry remains the country’s richest person, with an estimated fortune of $15 billion.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 52 vs. 51 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $194.5 vs. $204.5 billion in 2021
Giovanni Ferrero–the scion of the Nutella, Tic Tac and Kinder Egg dynasty–is yet again Italy’s richest person, worth an estimated $36.2 billion, up $1.1 billion from a year ago. Susan Carol Holland lands on the billionaire list with a fortune built on hearing aids as one of six new billionaires from Italy.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 11 vs. 12 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $38 billion vs. $43.8 billion in 2021
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken again claims the top spot in the Netherlands, with an estimated $15.2 billion fortune, down $1.5 billion from last year–built on an empire that includes over 300 beer brands available in more than 190 countries. Jitse Groen, CEO of food delivery service Just Eat Takeaway.com, fell off the list after shares plunged by more than 50%.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 13 vs. 12 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $40.9 billion vs $38.3 billion 2021
While investor Andreas Halvorsen remains the country’s richest person, not far behind is real estate tycoon Ivar Tollefsen–owner of 100,000 apartments across Europe–who added $2.2 billion to his estimated net worth over the last 12 months. The one newcomer: Erik Must, who cofounded Oslo brokerage house Fondsfinans and plowed his profits into outperforming Norwegian stocks.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 83 vs. 117 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $320.2 billion $583.9 billion 2021
Russian wealth has taken a huge hit. Vladimir Lisin is now the country’s richest person, with an $18.4 billion estimated net worth built from NLMK Group, a leading manufacturer of steel products. The fortunes of all but a small handful of Russian billionaires have declined since last year. There are 34 fewer Russian billionaires on the 2022 list due to a weaker ruble and plunging company valuations, partly due to sanctions by the EU, U.K. and the U.S. Two new Russians joined: Denis Sverdlov of electric vehicle company Arrival and pharmaceutical billionaire Egor Kulkov.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 27 vs. 30 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $116 billion vs. $137 billion in 2021
It was not a great year for Spain’s richest person, fashion tycoon Amancio Ortega of Inditex fame, best known for around 2,000 Zara stores around the world. A 27% drop in the share price since January contributed to a $17.4 billion drop in his net worth. But he’s still the 23rd richest person in the world, worth an estimated $59.6 billion. His daughter, Sandra Ortega Merais, is the country’s second wealthiest citizen (worth an estimated $5.8 billion). The third richest, Rafael Del Pino of construction firm Ferrovial, is worth an estimated $4.1 billion. Among those who fell off: Juan Lopez-Belmonte Lopez of Madrid-based biotech firm Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi, who died in July 2021.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 45 vs. 41 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $165.7 billion vs. $182 billion in 2021
H&M’s Stefan Persson continues as the country’s richest person. Meanwhile, it was a down year for the Rausing clan of Tetra Laval billionaires: Finn, Jorn and Kirsten Rausing saw their estimated net worths drop a collective $12.3 billion from last year. Six new billionaires arrived in 2022, while two–Madeleine Olsson Eriksson and Mats Paulsson–fell off the list.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 41 vs. 40 in 2021
TOTAL NET WORTH: $181.9 billion vs. $145.5 billion 2021
The wealthiest three billionaires in Switzerland had a rather good year. Checkout.com founder Guillaume Pousaz is not only Switzerland’s richest person, but Europe’s top tech entrepreneur, worth an estimated $23 billion. Gianluigi & Rafaela Aponte of MSC–the second-largest shipping line in the world by vessel capacity–saw their fortune climb by $6.1 billion; while Ivan Glasenberg–who has the largest individual stake in commodities trader Glencore–got $3.6 billion richer. Stéphane Bonvin, CEO of Investis real estate group, is the one new entry.
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES: 49 vs. 56
TOTAL NET WORTH: $199.1 billion vs $213.9 billion in 2021
Sir James Ratcliffe remains number one in the U.K., at an estimated $16.3 billion, with investor Michael Platt now at number two, at an estimated $15.2 billion. There were no new British billionaires. Meanwhile, seven fell below the billion-dollar threshold, including Geeta Gupta-Fisker of electric vehicle startup Fisker, Matt Molding of the THG beauty and protein empire and Eddie & Sol Zakay of the Topland Group real estate group.