It would be too easy to rank the world’s richest people today. You could simply take the founders of some of the top firms in the world, sort them by the value of holdings in their company and voila! At AskMen, we have consulted with economists, financiers and historians to rank some of the most influential men in the history of humanity, as ranked by wealth in 2001 US Dollars (some figures are approximate as they take into consideration inflation, GDP growth, currency exchange rates, and fluctuations in share prices).


10. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan — $ 23 billion
The United Arab Emirates Sheikh has considerable holdings in oil, property and various investments, that boosted his financial wealth to just over $23 billion. In power since 1966, the Sheikh is the man behind the U.A.E.

9. Paul Allen — $25 billion
Microsoft co-founder and Vulcan Ventures founder (and a pretty mean guitarist) makes the list, yes, mostly because of his involvement with the Redmond, Washington-based software giant, but also thanks to his unique intellect, vision, and good-natured, fun-loving demeanor. Even if his wealth were at 28 cents, we would want to sit down and pick his brain (and maybe jam a few tunes with him as well).

8. Warren Buffett — $28 billion
Over the 1990s, Warren Buffett tumbled a bit on this list, mostly because of his aversion to investing in technology stocks. But the “Oracle of Omaha” has apparently had the last laugh as technology stocks melted. Even with some battered picks, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is going strong, as his $28 billion would strongly suggest.

7. King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud — $30 billion
In power since 1982, the 77-year-old Saudi Arabian King’s fortune has swollen in recent years. At the helm of one of the world’s top oil-producing countries, the King has substantial financial clout as his $30 billion would suggest, but he has even more power than meets the eye, as the recent oil prices have increased immensely.

6. Lawrence J. Ellison — $55 billionCurrently the world’s second richest man, Oracle’s Chief Executive Officer is a charismatic visionary and driven individual, both in and out of the boardroom, who briefly sat atop the Fortune Hierarchy. His managerial skills, target-setting abilities and execution capabilities make up B-School curriculums. His womanizing, thrill-seeking and adventure-chasing exploits are a thing of legend. His fortune is the icing on the cake.

5. William Gates III — $60 billionCurrently the world’s richest man, at one point, Gates’ fortune was creeping towards the $100 billion mark. Then, as we all know, the DOJ’s Anti-trust case, as well as an overall meltdown in the high-technology market, hurt the Harvard dropout. Today, with a $60 billion fortune, Gates is both hated and loved. Unlike many, he has promised to contribute over 90% of his wealth to charities when the big guy calls his number. We hope this will not be anytime soon, as he and his wife Melinda French Gates run the world’s largest philanthropic association.

4. John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) — $85 billion
Adjusted for time, Astor, “the Self-Made Money-Making Machine’s” fortune would rank at roughly $85 billion in 2001. Despite never setting a trap himself, the German-born Astor became synonymous with the American Fur Trade. Along many others, Astor symbolizes the American Dream, as he rose from obscurity to financial success.

3. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) — $100 billion
You know you had serious clout when universities are named after you. An American steamship and railroad builder, financier, promoter, and executive, Vanderbilt left an estate of roughly $100 million, which, in 2001 dollars, represents an astonishing $100 billion. A man of incredible energy (and obviously remarkable time-management abilities), his intricate sense of business left his rivals in the dust.

2. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) — $110 billion
The only thing we will say is that by the time he passed away in 1919, Carnegie had given away over $350 million. The rest, we will leave to him: “My heart is in the work… the duty of the man of wealth… is to set an example of modest unostentatious living, shunning display; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and, after doing so, to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds which he is strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community.”

1. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) — $200 billion
If you thought Bill Gates has some serious anti-trust issues, then let us introduce to you the man that needs no introduction: the man who has a Center named after him in New York. The man who built, dominated, controlled, and ultimately lost the Standard Oil Company. Do yourself a favor: if you like business, politics and wealth, then get yourself his biography, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr., and you will understand why America is the place to be if you want to get rich.