For the third time in three years, the world has a new richest man.
Riding surging prices of his various telecom holdings, including giant mobile outfit America Movil ( AMX - news - people ), Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has beaten out Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to become the wealthiest person on earth and nab the top spot on the 2010 Forbes list of the World's Billionaires.
Slim's fortune has swelled to an estimated $53.5 billion, up $18.5 billion in 12 months. Shares of America Movil, of which Slim owns a $23 billion stake, were up 35% in a year.
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That massive hoard of scratch puts him ahead of Microsoft ( MSFT - news - people ) cofounder Bill Gates, who had held the title of world's richest 14 of the past 15 years.
Gates, now worth $53 billion, is ranked second in the world. He is up $13 billion from a year ago as shares of Microsoft rose 50% in 12 months. Gates' holdings in his personal investment vehicle Cascade ( CAE - news - people ) also soared with the rest of the markets.
Buffett's fortune jumped $10 billion to $47 billion on rising shares of Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK - news - people ). He ranks third.
The Oracle of Omaha shrewdly invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs ( GS - news - people ) and $3 billion in General Electric ( GE - news - people ) amid the 2008 market collapse. He also recently acquired railroad giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe ( BNI - news - people ) for $26 billion.
In his annual shareholder letter Buffett wrote, "We've put a lot of money to work during the chaos of the last two years. When it's raining gold, reach for a bucket, not a thimble."
Many plutocrats did just that. Indeed, last year's wealth wasteland has become a billionaire bonanza. Most of the richest people on the planet have seen their fortunes soar in the past year.