Shares of Warren Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway soared 20% in 2016, helping to boost Buffett’s personal fortune by $12.3 billion – more than any other billionaire in the United States.
Buffett was a firm supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, but he scored most of his gains this year, some $7.8 billion, after she lost the election in November. Buffett’s fortune rose $3.6 billion in the two days following the election alone when Berkshire Hathaway stock jumped 6%.
It wasn’t all a smooth ride for Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett’s firm is the largest shareholder of bank Wells Fargo, which was fined $185 million in September for opening millions of accounts without customers’ permission. Federal officials opened investigations, members of Congress berated the bank, and CEO John Stumpf ultimately left his position in October. Berkshire shares dropped 4% in the month after authorities fined Wells Fargo.
Berkshire Hathaway stock began to make a comeback on Nov. 4, when the company released its third-quarter results. Buffett’s firm reported $11.4 billion in quarterly revenues, up 8% from the previous year. Shares edged upwards, gaining 3% from Nov. 4 to Nov. 8, slightly outpacing the market’s overall rise heading into Election Day. Once Donald Trump won, Berkshire took off along with the rest of the stock market.
Fracking titan Harold Hamm is $8.8 billion richer now compared to December 31, 2015, the second biggest dollar gain of anyone in America. Shares of his oil giant Continental Resources soared 136% thanks to the rising price of crude oil. The Texas oilman has ridden oil’s boom and bust cycles for years. He gained more than $13 billion from 2010 to 2014, lost more than $13 billion by March 2016, then regained most of it in the last nine months. Today he is worth $15.1 billion, FORBES calculates.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also had a big year, adding $6.6 billion to his coffers as Amazon shares rose. And gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson gained $5.6 billion. Still, no one could match Buffett, who would be even richer if he had not given away $2.9 billion worth of Berkshire stock in July. Six years ago Buffett and his friend Bill Gates created the Giving Pledge, a commitment by billionaires around the world to donate over half of their money. For his part, the Omaha investor has promised to donate more than 99% of his fortune. So far, he has given away more than $28.5 billion.
1. Warren Buffett
Net worth: $74.2 billion
Shares of investment firm Berkshire Hathaway soared 20%, boosting the fortunes of Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett and at least nine other American billionaires who hold significant stakes in his company. Most of Buffett’s gains, $7.8 billion, came after Donald Trump won the presidential election in November.
2. Wang Wei
Net worth: $14.4 billion
The 45-year-old chairman of S.F. Express, the “FedEx of China,” got approval to merge his company with an already-listed firm, Maanshan Dingtai Rare Earth & New Materials Co., in a popular move called a backdoor listing — which helps firms bypass the lengthy regulatory process that most Chinese companies have to endure. Shares of Maanshan Dingtai Rare Earth & New Materials Co. more than doubled in value since the end of 2015.
3. Harold Hamm & family
Net worth: $15.1 billion
The collapse of oil in 2014 crushed Hamm’s fortune more than any other individual, but he has gained the most from its recovery. The bust wiped out more than $13 billion from the net worth of America’s fracking king. In 2016, he made most of it back.
4. Yao Zhenhua
Net worth: $8.3 billion
Yao was a little known investor with an insurance company before he started aggressively buying shares of one of China’s biggest property developers, China Vanke. Now he owns 25% of the company and also controls more than 40 shopping malls in China. FORBES discovered new information about his extensive property holdings this year, explaining most of the gain in his net worth this year.
5. Masayoshi Son
Net worth: $19.4 billion
The SoftBank CEO was already having a good year before a meeting with Donald Trump made it even better. Standing in the lobby of Trump Tower in December, Son announced that his firm will invest $50 billion in American startups (adding details to a plan he first disclosed in October). SoftBank shares spiked 12% in the next two days, and Son overtook Uniqlo boss Tadashi Yanai as the richest man in Japan.
6. Jeff Bezos
Net worth: $65.7 billion
Amazon’s CEO and founder continues to register massive gains as shares of his buy-anything retailer keep climbing. The stock hit an all-time high on Oct. 4, at which point Bezos was up an estimated $12.5 billion since the start of the year. His fortune fell by $5.9 billion as shares tapered off in the following months. Unlike most American billionaires, Bezos didn’t get a boost after Trump won the presidential election in November. The two business titans clashed over the course of the campaign.
7. Sheldon Adelson
Net worth: $30.3 billion
The richest casino boss in the world had two tough years in 2014 and 2015. His fortune fell an estimated $16 billion from the start of 2014 to the end of 2015, as the Chinese government cracked down on corruption, cutting into gambling revenues in nearby Macau. Shares of his Las Vegas Sands started to rebound this year but took another steep dive in early December, after reports that China was cutting its limit on the amount of money people could withdraw from ATMs in Macau. Nevertheless, Las Vegas Sands stock ended the year up 24%.
8. Bernard Arnault & family
Net worth: $39.8 billion
The French luxury king and his family own 73% of Christian Dior, a stake worth $27 billion. Revenues hit a record 38 billion Euros in 2016, and shares climbed 24%. Arnault also has significant stakes in LVMH and Hermes, which both rose more than 20% in 2016.
9. Vagit Alekperov
Net worth: $14 billion
As the head of Lukoil, Russia’s largest independent oil company, Alekperov benefitted from the rising price of crude in 2016. Shares of Lukoil, which he converted from a state-owned enterprise following the collapse of the Soviet Union, jumped 72% over the last year. Alekperov got an additional boost as the Russian ruble rose some 42% in value against the U.S. dollar in the last 12 months.
10. Leonid Mikhelson
Net worth: $18 billion
A key investor in natural gas producer Novatek, Mikhelson is also a business partner of Vladamir Putin’s billionaire son-in-law Kirill Shamalov. Stock in Novatek is up 29% in the last year. Two-thirds of that gain came after Donald Trump’s election in November. Like Alekperov, Mikhelson benefitted from the growing strength of the Russian ruble.