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In this Sept. 6, 2012, file photo, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, speaks at the introduction of the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite personal devices, in Santa Monica, Calif.

Reed Saxon

Jeff Bezos is the richest person in modern history.

The Amazon.com Inc. founder’s net worth broke US$150-billion in New York on Monday morning, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s about US$55-billion more than Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person.

Mr. Bezos, 54, has now topped Mr. Gates in inflation-adjusted terms. The US$100-billion mark that Mr. Gates hit briefly in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom would be worth about US$149-billion in today’s dollars. That makes the Amazon chief executive richer than anyone else on earth since at least 1982, when Forbes published its inaugural wealth ranking.

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Mr. Bezos crossed the threshold just as Amazon prepares to kick off its 36-hour summer sales event, Prime Day. The company’s share price was US$1,825.73 at 11:10 a.m. in New York, extending its 2018 gain to 56 per cent and giving Mr.Bezos a US$150.8-billion fortune.

His net worth has soared by US$52-billion this year, which is more than the entire fortune of Mukesh Ambani, the newly crowned richest person in Asia. It also puts Mr. Bezos’s personal fortune within spitting distance of the Walton family’s US$151.5-billion, which is the world’s richest dynasty.

‘Staggering Number’

“It’s hard to even put it in perspective,” said Michael Cole, CEO of Cresset Family Office. “It’s such a staggering number.”

A Federal Reserve report found the top 1 per cent of U.S. families controlled 38.6 per cent of wealth in the United States in 2016, compared with 22.8 per cent held by the bottom 90 per cent. Last year, Oxfam International found that more than 80 per cent of earnings went to the top 1 per cent of the world population.

Behind Mr. Bezos on the Bloomberg index is Mr. Gates, with a US$95.5-billion fortune followed by Warren Buffett with US$83-billion.

Mr. Gates would have had a net worth of more than US$150-billion if he’d held onto assets that he’s given away, largely to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s donated almost 700 million Microsoft shares and US$2.9-billion of cash and other assets since 1996, according to an analysis of his publicly disclosed giving.

Bloomberg News, with assistance from Jack Witzig.

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