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The richest people of all time

Arnd Wiegmann/Newscom/RTR-According to Forbes’ most recent rich list, the wealthiest man on earth is Carlos Slim, he of the $69 billion (as of March 2012) Mexican telecom fortune. A staggering net worth, to be sure, but how does it rank when viewed through the lens of history? The folks at CelebrityNetWorth.com recently compiled a list of the richest people that ever lived, gathering a group of well-known luminaries and translating their wealth into today’s dollars*. The rundown features names you know well, though no women, and no tycoons, tyrants or royals who are still alive today. Who, then, was the richest person of all-time? Click through to find out.



 Courtesy Everett Collection/Rex-Net worth: $185 billion Source of wealth: Shipping, railroads Lived: 1794-1877 Born in Staten Island, New York City, N.Y., Cornelius Vanderbilt dropped out of school at 11 and started his own New York Harbour ferry service at just 16. From a $100 loan from his mother, the tycoon was able to grow a steamboat and shipping empire so large it left him money to earn an even bigger fortune in railroads. Vanderbilt entered the railroad business later in life, buying up interests in railroads across the northeast United States and Canada. In 1877, at age 82, Vanderbilt died of exhaustion and left behind a lasting legacy, including a university (Vanderbilt) that is named after him, and a great-great-great-grandson, TV host Anderson Cooper.
 Getty Images-Net worth: $199 billion Source of wealth: Automobiles Lived: 1863-1947 The father of the assembly line, Henry Ford is often mistakenly credited with inventing the automobile, which he did not. Ford did, however, bring the car to the consumer, developing and manufacturing the automobile into a product the public could buy and drive. Ford founded the car company that took his name in 1903, and his family has since presided over a century of auto sales success. Ford’s great-grandson, William Clay Ford, Jr., is the current executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company
 Rex Features-Net worth: $200 billion Source of wealth: Oil Lived: 1942-2011 The man that began a million revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa last year was also stinking rich. Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s tyrant leader for over four decades, also allegedly used his power to line his pockets as the domineering controller of the country’s plentiful oil fields. Using Libya’s coffers as his bank account, Gaddafi reportedly spent freely, amassing a personal fortune that included real estate and corporate investments all over the world. At the time of his capture and death in 2011, Gadhafi was the richest man on earth.
 Net worth: $229.5 billion Source of wealth: Royalty Lived: 1027-1087 A descendant of Vikings, William the Conqueror is remembered for invading and overtaking England in 1066. As Duke of Normandy, William led an army of Norman and French soldiers in the conquest of England. Ten weeks after the invasion was complete, William crowned himself King of England, a title that brought with it exquisite riches he would leave to his sons upon his death.
 Farhang Nizam, first edition, 1926/Wikipedia-Net worth: $230 billion Source of wealth: Royalty Lived: 1886-1967 The stories of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad before the state was taken over by India, are the stuff of legend. Reportedly, the ruler of Hyderabad had more than 50 Rolls-Royces, and claimed to use the famous Jacob Diamond as a paperweight in his office. The Nizam was thought to be the richest man in the world, until his reign ended in 1947 with the invasion of Hyderabad. He died 20 years later in 1967.
 Getty Images-Net worth: $300 billion Source of wealth: Royalty Lived: 1868-1918 The last Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II’s reign has not been viewed kindly by historians — the ruler is often criticized for driving his once powerful nation into economic and military collapse. The son of Emperor Alexander III, Nicholas II (pictured right, with son Alexei) eventually left the throne in 1917, hoping to seek asylum in the UK. He was denied a safe haven in England, and in 1918 Nicholas II and his family were assassinated by Bolshevik revolutionists.
 Net worth: $310 billion Source of wealth: Steel Lived: 1835-1919 One of America’s most celebrated industrialists, Andrew Carnegie is actually Scottish, born in 1835 in a town called Dunfermline. Carnegie came over to the U.S. as a boy, where he got a job as a steel factory worker. In 1892, the Carnegie Steel Company was created in Pittsburgh, Pa. The company grew and, after Carnegie sold it in 1901, later merged with U.S. Steel, a corporate giant that is still active today. A great philanthropist, Carnegie gave much of his fortune to schools, libraries and universities before his death at 83.
Getty Images-Net worth: $340 billion Source of wealth: Oil Lived: 1839-1937 Tycoon John D. Rockefeller brought on a new era of wealth in America, where he nearly monopolized the oil industry in the late 1800s. The famous New Yorker founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870, capitalizing on a time when soaring demand for kerosene and gasoline grew Rockefeller’s fortune. He became so wealthy that he left his company in 1897 and spent the last 40 years of his life retired. In his later days, Rockefeller endowed much of his fortune to schools and medical research, and founded the University of Chicago.  
Courtesy Everett Collection/Rex-Net worth: $350 billion Source of wealth: Banking The wealthiest family there ever was, the Rothschilds are a banking dynasty unlike any other, with a total fortune of $350 billion, according recent estimates. While many of the family members are still alive today, the Rothschilds were richest, and perhaps most powerful, in the 1800s, when their fortune was believed to be the largest in the world. The German-Jewish family all but established banking and finance houses in Europe in the late 18th century, and today are said to hold over $1 trillion in real estate and banking assets. 
Net worth: $400 billion Source of wealth: Royalty Lived: 1280-1337 The wealthiest man of all-time died nearly 700 years ago and you may never have heard his name. But where pure fortunes are concerned, there is no person in history that boasts a larger worth than Mansa Musa I, the ruler of the Malian Empire. Mansa Musa I was known as the “king of kings,” the emperor who controlled what is today the nations of Ghana, Timbuktu and Mali. The king’s outlandish wealth came from the Malian Empire’s vast reserves of salt and gold, which serviced as much as half the world at the time. Dazzling African mosques built by Mansa Musa I still stan
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