With the help of academic economists and historians, Time.com put together a list of the richest historical figures of all time -- from ancient emperors to business moguls -- based on their economic influence and estimates of how much their riches from their era would be worth in today’s world.
10. Genghis Khan:
Genghis Khan ruled the Mongolian Empire which stretched from China to Europe. He rose to be one of the most successful military leaders in history, but he was big on sharing his wealth with his soldiers and other commanders. He mostly lived like a common person, according to the author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford who said Khan did not build a palace, temple or tomb for himself and he wore no royal garments upon death.
Despite his modest living, the amount of influence, control, and land he held under his thumb puts him in the category of wealthiest historical figures.
09. Bill Gates:
Not sure if Bill Gates can be considered a “historical figure,” but the Microsoft founder certainly has made history with his abundant wealth. He is the richest living person worth $78.9 billion according to Forbes. Not bad for a nerdy guy from Seattle.
08. Alan Rufus (or Alan the Red):
As the nephew of William the Conqueror, Rufus partook in the Norman Conquest and died being worth 11,000 British pounds which was 7% of England’s GDP at that time and would amount to $194 billion in 2014 US dollars, according to Philip Beresford and Bill Rubinstein who wrote The Richest of the Rich.
07. John D. Rockefeller:
The famous oil tycoon started investing in the petroleum industry in 1863 and by 1880 his oil company controlled 90% of American oil production. When Rockefeller died he was valued at approximately $1.5 billion which was equal to nearly 2% of U.S. economic output that year. That same amount of economic shares would have been worth $341 billion in 2014 US dollars.
06. Andrew Carnegie:
When Carnegie sold U.S. steel to J.P. Morgan for $480 million back in 1901, he made himself arguably one of the richest Americans of all time. That amount was equal to more than 2.1% of U.S. GDP which would amount to $372 billion in 2014 US Dollars.
05. Joseph Stalin:
Stalin isn’t one of the most well-liked historic figures as he is known as a tyrant and ran the Soviet Union as a dictatorship. He is even a controversial figure as a part of this list because his personal wealth is uncertain, but the wealth of the Soviet Union during his ruling is equal to $7.5 trillion in 2014 US dollars.
Although the money didn’t belong to him explicitly, his absolute control gave him access to use the funds for whatever he chose. He may not have been “rich” per say, but his economic power makes him a good candidate for the list.
04. Akbar I:
Known as the greatest emperor of India’s Mughal dynasty, Akbar controlled an empire that accounted for 25% of the global economic output at that time and lived the extravagant lifestyle to prove it.
03. Emperor Shenzong:
China’s Song dynasty is known as one of the most powerful empires of all time due to its technological advancements and tax collection skill. At its peak, the Song dynasty accounted for nearly 30% of the world’s economic output and Shenzong controlled it all.
02. Augustus Caesar:
Caesar’s personal wealth at one point was equivalent to one-fifth of his empire’s economy which would be equal to $4.6 trillion in 2014 US dollars, according to Stanford history professor Ian Morris.
01. Mansa Musa:
Mansa Musa’s wealth was so abundant that it has been deemed indescribable. The historical king of Timbuktu is commonly known as the richest person in history as his West African kingdom is said to have been the largest producer of gold in the world during a time when gold was in very high demand. Due to a lack of records during Mansa Musa’s time period, his personal wealth is unknown.
“This is the richest guy anyone has ever seen, that’s the point,” said Rudolph Ware, associate professor of history at the University of Michigan.
“They’re trying to find words to explain that. There are pictures of him holding a scepter of gold on a throne of gold holding a cup of gold with a golden crown on his head. Imagine as much gold as you think a human being could possess and double it, that’s what all the accounts are trying to communicate.”
Pretty impressive list...I just have one question, where are the women?!