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Richest Guys Through History

You have heard famous statement about never having too much money. Well, they are exception…

10. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794 – 1877)

You can’t necessarily get rich by playing nice, and Cornelius Vanderbilt apparently took that to heart. In his early years in the steamboat business, he would undercut competitors to the point of his own unprofitability, just to make a point. That ruthless competitive nature typified Vanderbilt through his years, especially in the way he ran his railroad empire. He may not have always played nice, but without exception, he played to win. He quit school at the age of 11 (famously saying “If I had learned education, I would not have had time to learn anything else”) to work on ferries in New York. By 16, persuaded his mom to loan him $100 for a boat to start his own ferry business carrying freight and passengers between Staten Island and Manhattan. He repaid the loan with an additional $1000 one year later. It’s from this business operating ships that he got his nickname “Commodore” that stuck for the rest of his life, even after he started getting into the railroad business. Despite of their wealth – or perhaps because of it, the Vanderbilt family wasn’t a happy one. The Commodore was constantly thinking of his will, which he called “that paper.” He wanted the money to remain intact, and thus it must be handed down to a single heir. Indeed, he disowned all of his sons other than William, believing that only William was ruthless enough in business to be capable of maintaining his empire.

9. Henry Ford

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was a prominent American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As owner of the Ford Motor Company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with “Fordism”: mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put dealerships throughout most of North America and in major cities on six continents. Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation but arranged for his family to control the company permanently. He was known worldwide especially in the 1920s for a system of Fordism that seemed to promise modernity, high wages and cheap consumer goods, but his antisemitism in the 1920s has been a source of controversy.

8. Marcus Licinius Crassus

He is the earliest historical figure in this list. He was a Roman general and politician who defeated the slave revolt led by Spartacus. The Roman general became wealthy when he bought the homes and belongings from the victims of Sulla’s sacking of Rome (Crassus was one of Sulla’s generals) for cheap. He then re-sold them at a princely profit. Using his wealth he also kept a troop of 500 slaves, all skilled builders, on stand-by. He would then simply wait for one of Rome’s frequent fires to break out and would then offer to buy the burning properties, as well as the endangered neighbouring buildings. Using his team of builders he would then rebuild the area and keep it to draw income from rent, or sell it on with a large profit. It is believed that Crassus expanded his personal fortune to a remarkable 170 million sesterces, while Pliny the Elder surmised his fortune to be valued even higher, at 200 million sesterces. This would place Crassus’s net worth equal to the total annual budget of the Roman treasury. He has been considered the wealthiest man in history, though this claim has been disputed.

7. Bill Gates

At last count, Bill Gates had an estimated net worth of $42 billion dollars ($42,000,000,000.000). He has earned since his birth an average of $32.31 per heartbeat, and this is escalating. He recently donated $200 million to place computers in libraries across the country. This is 1/210 of his wealth. He is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009, excluding 2008, when he was ranked third. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of CEO and chief software architect, and remains the largest individual shareholder, with more than 8 percent of the common stock. He has also authored or co-authored several books. After the proposed merger with Yahoo fizzled out and shares dropped in the dominant company he cofounded, he’s probably not losing sleep. He is no doubt looking forward to stepping back from his current role at Microsoft and devoting more time to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, currently $38.7 billion strong.

6. Warren Buffett

He is an American investor, industrialist and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. Often called the “legendary investor, Warren Buffett”, he is the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett became a billionaire on paper when Berkshire Hathaway began selling class A shares on May 29, 1990, when the market closed at $7,175 a share. Over the past 35 years, Warren Buffett has emerged as arguably the greatest investor in American history. If you had invested $10.000 in Berkshire Hathaway when he took control in 1965, your holdings would be worth more than $50 million today. But this man still lives in the same house he bought three decades ago for $31.500, drives an old Lincoln Towncar, and downs countless cans of Coca – Cola every day.

5. Carlos Slim Helu

The Mexican communications industry and other interests have been kind to Carlos Slim, to say the least. It’s said that between 2005 and 2007, Slim’s worth has doubled. In that period, his fortune grew around $27 million – daily. The reason is simple: he owns everything in Mexico. Over 200 companies are under his thumb, ranging from the aforementioned telecom to transportation, and from cigarettes to soft drinks. He’s dismissed the title of “world’s richest man” with indifference, claiming that designation isn’t his kind of competition. Whether he wants it or not, he has been designated as one of the world’s richest men of all time.

4. Nicholas II of Russia

Nicholas II of Russia (born Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov) was the last Tsar of Russia. He ruled (badly) from 1894 until he  was forced to abdicate in the Russian Revolution of 1917 by the Bolsheviks. His reign was marked with antisemitic pogroms, a crushing defeat by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, revolutions, internal unrests their bloody suppressions, undue influence by the mystic Rasputin and World War I. A year after he was deposed, Nicholas and his entire family were executed by Lenin’s order. The life of the last tsar of Russia was filled with fascinating myths, legends, and history. Suffice it to say that Nicholas II became the third richest man in history the old fashioned way: he inherited his wealth.

3. Asaf Jah VII

Peak wealth: $210.8 billion. Age at peak wealth: 50. Asaf Jah VII (whose given name was Osman Ali Khan Bahadur) was the last Nizam or ruler of the Princely State of Hyderabad and Berar, before it was invaded and annexed by India in 1948. By most accounts, “His Exalted Highness” the Nizam of Hyderabad was a benevolent ruler who promoted education, science and development. He spent about one-tenth of his Principality’s budget on education, and even made primary education compulsory and free for the poor. In his 37-year rule, Hyderabad witnessed the introduction of electricity, railways, roads, and other development projects.In 1937, Asaf Jah VII was on the cover of Time Magazine, labeled as the richest man in the world.

2. Sam Walton

Sam Walton’s passing in 1992 came too soon for him to see the full potential of his Wal-Mart empire, though he was certainly successful in his lifetime. Much of it came from offering things that we take for granted today: good variety and convenient store hours, for example. He also set the stage for efficient, cost-effective central warehousing of merchandise, extending his competitive reach into smaller markets and well beyond his first store in Arkansas.

1. John D. Rockefeller

John Davison Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an German-American oil magnate and philanthropist, founder of the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of modern philanthropy. In 1870, he founded the Standard Oil Company and aggressively ran it until he officially retired in 1897.  Rockefeller wasn’t born to a rich family. His father, William Avery “Big Bill” Rockefeller was a shiftless man who spent most of his times thinking up schemes to avoid actual work! Nevertheless, thanks to the guidance of his mom Eliza – a homemaker and devout Baptist – John D. grew up to be quite a hardworking man. Rockefeller got his first job at 16 as a bookkeeper. In a move that portended his lifelong commitment to philanthropy, he tithed 10% of his income – from his first paycheck on – to charity. As his wealth grew, so did his charitable contributions. When he died in 1937, Rockefeller had given away half of his amassed fortune, and established philanthropic foundations to continue giving after his death


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