Amancio Ortega has been named the world’s richest man, quietly surpassing the Microsoft founder for the first time ever. The elusive multibillionaire founder of European clothing retailer Zara has a fortune of $79.8 billion, according to Forbes.
Ortega isn’t as much of a household name as Bill Gates, but he’s quietly ascended the wealth rankings in recent years, as his company continues to perform well and expand. Unlike many of the richest people in the world, Amancio has a fascinating rags-to-riches story.
Born in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, his father earned 300 pesetas a month, a meager salary.
It wasn’t until he was 40 years old that Amancio Ortega got around to setting up Zara, the fast-fashion retailer that has gone from strength to strength-first growing in Spain, then neighboring Portugal and France, then London. Now it’s all over the globe.
The billionaire’s biographer described his memories of a childhood during which his family could not always afford enough food. He left school in his early teens, working his way up from the absolute bottom rung as a messenger boy in a shop.
Ortega’s wealth rose by 5.3 percent, another $4 billion, over the last 24 hours. That’s partly down to a surge in Inditex shares, the parent company that owns Zara.
— Forbes (@Forbes) October 23, 2021
In the last 10 years, the market value of Inditex has risen by about 570 percent, the main driver of Amancio’s climb up the ranks.
In an odd turn of events, Ortega has Mario Draghi to thank for his new rank-the head of the European Central Bank’s hints that the ECB would boost its quantitative-easing programme on Thursday sent shares in the eurozone surging upwards.