He trails behind the world’s richest individual, another full-fledged celebrity, Tesla founder and Mars enthusiast Elon Musk. He’s currently sitting on a $312 billion pile of dough and making more headlines than Kim Kardashian.
Aside from their unimaginable wealth and private rocket collection, Musk shares something else with Bezos: an image problem. Even his own father recently admitted he wasn’t proud of his famous son.
When recent pictures of Musk shirtless on vacation hit social media, the masses responded with a campaign of stinginess and trolling far uglier than anything the billionaire actually flaunted in his bathers.
This year forbes had 2,668 billionaires in its 36th annual ranking of the planet’s richest people, with a total worth of $18.09 trillion — about $570 billion down from 2021, thanks largely to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic.
America still leads the world with 735 billionaires.
Last month, many of them gathered at the historic Sun Valley Lodge in Idaho for an annual conference billed as “Billionaires’ Summer Camp.”
Corresponding diversityThis year’s guest list included Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Meta bosses Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Apple honcho Tim Cook and Rupert Murdoch.
The five-day love-in included the moguls listening to a variety of speeches (including the headline Musk Talks Colonizing Mars).
Some of the wealthy took part in panels on politics, health and business, and when it got too much there were group activities too, ranging from golf to fly-fishing, hiking and biking.
However, there was no mention of sessions on how to buy public admiration.
James Packer recently revealed – from the luxury of his own $250m superyacht – that he was launching a campaign to rehabilitate his public image after a painful few years in both his personal and business lives.
Last week he donated $250,000 to help Julian Assange, while the Packer family has given untold millions to charity over many decades.
Gina Rinehart, one of Australian sport’s biggest sponsors, is perhaps better known for the bitter family feud with her own children that has lasted for decades.
Philanthropy has also been the cornerstone of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated billions of dollars to a variety of causes, from educating the impoverished to providing $2 billion to the global COVID-19 response.
That wasn’t enough to save Bill Gates from the searing consequences of his divorce when it was revealed he had cheated on his now ex-wife, which he later admitted caused “a lot of pain”.
Gates’ public image has suffered since then. As the Beatles famously sang: “For money can’t buy me love”.