For years the richest man in the world was Microsoft founder, Bill Gates. However, since 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated over 300 million dollars to charity. That philanthropic act allowed the Spaniard Amancio Ortega to briefly take the top spot.
Ortega's net worth hit 80 billion dollars when his holding company Industria de Diseño Textil reached an all-time high of 33.99 euros per share.
Industria de Diseño Textil, or Inditex, is the parent company to brands Zara , Pull&Bear, Berksha, Oysha, Stradivarius and Massimo Dutti. The $20 billion (sales) enterprise is the envy of the retail world, with its fast-fashion model that can design, make, ship and sell a piece of clothing in days. That allows Inditex to react quickly to changing customer demands and keep its stores stocked with the latest trends.
Inditex shares are up more than 50% in the last year. Ortega’s gains in the billionaire ranks are even more impressive since Forbes measures fortunes in dollars, and the value of the Euro has fallen from $1.27 a year ago to $1.10 today.
The son of a railway worker, Ortega cofounded Zara with his wife Rosalia Mera in 1975, selling bathrobes and lingerie. He still owns 59% of the company today. The couple divorced years ago, and daughter Sandra Ortega Mera inherited Rosalia’s stake when her mother died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage in August 2013. Sandra is now the second-richest person in Spain, with a fortune of $7.3 billion.
It isn't just Ortega though that holds great wealth in Spain. There are 1,390 Spaniards with more than 43 million euros to their name putting the country in the top ten countries for wealthy people.