Depiction of Mansa Musa, ruler of the Mali Empire in the 14th century, from a 1375 Catalan Atlas of the known world (mapamundi), drawn by Abraham Cresques of Mallorca. Musa is shown holding a gold nugget and wearing a European-style crown. The section to the right translates as: “This Negro lord is called Musa Mali, Lord of the Negroes of Guinea. So abundant is the gold which is found in his country that he is the richest and most noble king in all the land.”
Celebrity Net Worth recently released a list of the 25 richest people in the world throughout history, with their calculations adjusted to reflect inflation.
The list names familiar people such as Warren Buffet (25th, $64 billion) and Bill Gates (12th, $136 billion) and also a few surprises, like the late Libyan dictator Muammar Ghaddafi (8th, $200 billion).
However the wealthiest person in history is Mansa Musa I. Born in 1280, Emperor Mansa Musa I was the ruler of the Mali Empire, which made up Timbuktu, Ghana and Mali in West Africa. In the 14th century Musa was worth the equivalent of $400 billion today.
Musa’s wealth came mainly from his country being the supplier of half of the world’s salt, and gold. He also invested in architecture and education, leaving behind an intellectual and economic awareness that established Mali as a global superpower and continue well into the Middle Ages.
Musa’s heirs could not avoid civil war and invading conquerors, so Musa’s net worth was diminished after just two generations.
Of the 25 richest people, none were women, but 14 out of 25 were Americans. Bill Gates is still the richest man alive.

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