CLOSE

The Quick 10: The 10 Richest People Ever

You always hear about how rich Bill Gates is, how rich Oprah is, how rich J.K. Rowling is. But none of them even make the top 10 richest people of all time. Compiled by Forbes magazine, this a list of the wealthiest people ever (EVAR!). They ranked these bazillionaires (my term, not theirs) according to the total GDP of the nation they lived in and adjusted their net worths to account for inflation as of 2007.

rocky1. John D. Rockefeller, worth a staggering $318.3 billion. He could have funded nearly half of the bailout all on his own! He was America's first-ever billionaire (not even including inflation). He was generous with his money, though, and gave away an estimated $550 million to various charities and foundations, including the ones he founded. When he was much older, he was known for giving money away wherever he went - dimes to adults and nickels to children.

2. Andrew Carnegie's steel company earned him about $298.3 billion. Nothing to sneeze at. I recently visited his grave in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and was surprised at how modest it was for a billionaire. Watch for more on my trip to the home of the Headless Horseman in a few weeks!

3. Nicholas II of Russia. $253.5 billion, inherited from his dad, Alexander III, who was the previous Emperor of Russia.

vanderbilt
4. William Henry Vanderbilt, $231.6 billion, mostly thanks to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroads. He inherited $100 million from his dad, but he definitely had financial chops of his own - by the time he died nine years after the inheritance, he had nearly doubled the fortune ($194 million).

5. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII was worth $210.8 billion. He was the last ruler of Hyderabad, which was invaded and annexed by India in 1948. In 1937, Time magazine named Osman Ali the richest man in the world.

6. Andrew Mellon, $188.8 billion. Dude was destined to accumulate wealth: by 17, he had already started his own lumber company. At 17, I was working part-time as a clerk at a drug store and wearing a really sweet mauve smock (that's right: mauve). By 1889, Mellon had expanded to shipbuilding, construction, steel and oil.

7. Henry Ford, $188.1 billion, a fortune was amassed thanks to Ford Motor Company, of course.

8. Marcus Licinius Crassus, $169.8 billion. Never heard of him? That's because he lived more than 2000 years ago. He was a Roman general and politician and the man who suppressed Spartacus' slave uprising. He acquired his wealth through inheritance, slave ownership, land ownership and various mining prospects.

9. Basil II of the Byzantine Empire, $169.4 billion. He came by his by merely being his father's son. His father was Emperor Romanos II. Basil never married or had children (at least, none that are documented), so when he died, his wealth was passed on to successor Constantine VIII and the goverment. He used his financial prowess for the imperial treasury as well - at the time of his death, he had accumulated about 200,000 pounds of gold for it.

10. Cornelius Vanderbilt, $167.4 billion, courtesy of the New York and Harlem Railroad and the shipping industry.

Other notables to make the list include:
#15, Elizabeth I - $142.9 billion.
#17, Sam Walton - $128 billion.
#20, Bill Gates - $101 billion.
#22, Cleopatra "“ $95.8 billion.
#39, Warren Buffett "“ $62 billion.

#45, J. Paul Getty - $50.1 billion.
#52, Howard Hughes "“ $43.4 billion.
#83, Queen Elizabeth II "“ $43.4 billion.
#116, John Hancock, $19.3 billion.
#181, Ben Franklin, $10.3 billion.
#190, Rupert Murdoch, $9 billion.

And Oprah? Oprah is only worth about $2.7 billion. But she's only 54 "“ she's still got time to crack the top 200. J.K. Rowling is said to have $1.1 billion at the young age of 43. With three more Harry Potter movies and the theme park yet to open, I predict that she's definitely in the top 200 by the time she is 50, if not sooner.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
9 Things You Should Keep in Mind Around Someone Observing Ramadan
iStock
iStock

To mark the ninth (and most holy) month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims around the world observe Ramadan. Often compared to Lent in Christianity and Yom Kippur in Judaism, Ramadan is all about restraint. For one month, Muslims observing Ramadan fast during the day and then feast at night.

By abstaining from food and water (as well as sex, smoking, fighting, etc.) during daylight, Muslims strive to practice discipline, instill gratitude for what they have, and draw closer to Allah. To be respectful and not annoy observers, here are nine things you should never say or do to someone observing Ramadan.

1. DON'T JOKE ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS.

A traditional iftar meal.
A traditional iftar meal.
iStock

Although it might be tempting to joke about Ramadan being a good excuse to lose weight, it is a time for spiritual reflection and is a serious matter. Observers undertake the challenge of fasting for religious and spiritual reasons rather than aesthetic ones. And, once the sun sets each night, many Muslims prepare a hearty iftar (the meal that breaks the fast) of dates, curries, rice dishes, and other delicious foods. The suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) is often fresh fruit, bread, cheese, and dishes that are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. So the idea of a cleanse is pretty far from their minds.

2. DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.

An Indian Muslim student recites from the Quran in a classroom during the holy month of Ramadan.
NOAH SEELAM, AFP/Getty Images

There are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims around the world, but not all of them observe Ramadan the same way. Although most observant Muslims fast for Ramadan, don't assume that every Muslim you meet has the same methods, traditions, and attitudes towards fasting. For some, Ramadan is more about prayer, reading the Qur'an, and performing acts of charity than merely about forgoing food and drink. And for those who may be exempted from the daily fasting, such as pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, or those with various health conditions, they might not appreciate the reminder from nosey busy-bodies that they aren't participating in the traditional way.

3. SAY "RAMADAN MUBARAK" INSTEAD OF "HAPPY RAMADAN."

A sign which reads
A sign which reads "Ramadan Kareem" in Arabic is seen pictured in front of the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai.
GIUSEPPE CACACE, AFP/Getty Images

Rather than wishing someone a happy Ramadan, being more thoughtful with your choice of words can show that you understand and respect the sanctity of their holy month. Saying "Ramadan Mubarak" or "Ramadan Kareem" are the traditional ways to impart warm wishes—they both convey the generosity and blessings associated with the month. The actual party comes after Ramadan, when Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, an up to three-day festival that involves plenty of food, time with family, and gifts.

4. DON'T BE A FOOD PUSHER.

Muslim woman saying no to an apple.
iStock

Even if the idea of not eating or drinking all day might be unfathomable to you, don't push food onto anyone observing Ramadan. While fasting all day for a month can cause mild fatigue, dehydration, and dizziness, don't try to convince participating Muslims to eat or drink something—they are fully aware of any side effects they may feel throughout the day. Instead, be respectful of their decision to fast and offer to lend a hand with something like chores, errands, or anything unrelated to food.

5. ACCEPT THAT WATER ISN'T ON THE MENU.

Dates and a glass of water.
iStock

Muslims who observe Ramadan don't sip any liquids during daytime. No water, coffee, tea, or juice. Zilch. Going without water is even harder than going without food, so be aware of the struggle and accept it. It's all part of the sacrifice and self-discipline inherent in Ramadan.

6. RESPECT PEOPLE'S PRIVACY.

Pregnant woman doing yoga.
iStock

Some Muslims choose not to fast during Ramadan for medical or other personal reasons, and they may not appreciate being badgered with questions about why they may be eating or drinking rather than fasting. Children and the elderly generally don't fast all day, and people who are sick are exempt from fasting. Other conditions that preclude fasting during Ramadan are pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menstruation (although, if possible, people generally make up the days later).

7. BE MINDFUL OF ENERGY LEVELS.

Woman running on the beach.
iStock

Eschewing food and drink for hours at a time can cause lethargy, so be aware that Muslims observing Ramadan may be more tired than usual. Your Muslim friends and coworkers don't stop working for an entire month, but they may tweak their schedules to allow for more rest. They may also stay indoors more (to prevent overheating) and avoid unnecessary physical activity to conserve energy. So, don't be offended if they aren't down for a pick-up game of basketball or soccer. We can't all be elite athletes.

8. DON'T OBSESS OVER FOOD AND HUNGER.

Family playing in the park.
iStock

One of the worst things you can do to someone on a new diet is to obsess over all the cheeseburgers, pizza, and cupcakes they can't have. Similarly, most Muslims observing Ramadan don't want to have in-depth conversations about all the food and beverages they're avoiding. So, be mindful that you don't become the constant reminder of how many hours are left until sundown—just as you shouldn't joke about weight loss, you shouldn't call attention to any hunger pangs.

9. DON'T BE AFRAID TO EAT YOUR OWN FOOD.

Coworkers discussing a project on couches.
iStock

Although it's nice to avoid talking about food in front of a fasting Muslim, don't be afraid to eat your own food as you normally would. Seeing other people eating and drinking isn't offensive—Muslims believe that Ramadan is all about sacrifice and self-discipline, and they're aware that not everyone participates. However, perhaps try to avoid scheduling lunch meetings or afternoon barbecues with your Muslim colleagues and friends. Any of those can surely wait until after Ramadan ends.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Timm Schamberger, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
quiz
Disney Princesses in Order Minefield
Timm Schamberger, AFP/Getty Images
Timm Schamberger, AFP/Getty Images

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios