World’s Richest Lose $444 Billion After Hellish Week for Markets

Last week was an expensive one for most investors, even for billionaires.

The combined fortunes of the world’s 500 richest people fell by $444 billion as the coronavirus continued to spread — and spread fear — rattling equity markets worldwide. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 12%, the biggest five-day slide since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, in a rout that vaporized more than $6 trillion from global stocks.

The drubbing more than erased the $78 billion in gains that the 500 wealthiest people had amassed since the start of the year through last week, according to theBloomberg Billionaires Index.

The world’s three richest people — Amazon.com Inc.’sJeff Bezos, Microsoft Corp. co-founderBill Gates and LVMH ChairmanBernard Arnault — incurred the biggest losses, with their combined wealth dropping about $30 billion.

Elon Musk, the world’s 25th-richest person, rang up the fourth-largest weekly loss — $9 billion — as shares of his Tesla Inc. slid after a steep climb to start the year. He’s still up $8.8 billion in 2020 and has a net worth of $36.3 billion.

Health officials are struggling to contain the virus, which can cause a potentially deadly pneumonia-like illness in a minority of patients and spread from others who look healthy. The World Health Organization has thus far refrained from declaring it a pandemic.

Read more: Nowhere to hide from coronavirus as rout hits all sectors

About 80% of billionaires on Bloomberg’s wealth ranking are now in the red this year, including those whose businesses have been swept up in the global drama. Carnival Corp. ChairmanMicky Arison lost $1 billion this week as the world’s largest cruise-line operator held tourists aboard one of its ships in Japan, where at least five passengers have died.

— With assistance by Benjamin Stupples

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