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WEALTHIEST GET RICHER: In lockdown as Rich List sees wealth increase 22% in pandemic


Sir Leonard Blavatanik - you may not have heard the name, but this man’s very rich.

With a £23 billion fortune, the businessman has topped the Sunday Times’ Rich List for 2021. During lockdown, wealth has risen by 22%, with Marcus Rashford even making an appearance. So how’s the list compiled?

Robert Watts from the Sunday Times spends the year compiling the list.

Footballer Marcus Rashford - a name we’ve all heard plenty from throughout the past year, has also had a mention on the Sunday Times Richlist - the footballer turned campaigner has topped the Sunday Times Giving List for 2021, so far donating over £20m for good causes - that well over 125% of his vast £16m wealth!

Sir Leonard Blavatnik is the richest person in UK, according to the new edition of The Sunday Times Rich List, published today online at thesundaytimes.co.uk/richlist and in the print edition of the newspaper on Sunday, May 23. The 76-page special edition of The Sunday Times Magazine reveals the wealth of the 250 richest people in Britain in its 33rd annual edition. Blavatnik is the richest of the record-breaking 171 billionaires in the UK recorded this year, up 24 from 2020, a year-on-year increase that is also a record. The combined wealth of the 171 UK billionaires is £597.269 billion, up £106.582 billion, or 21.7 per cent, on the total wealth of the billionaires in last year’s Rich List.

Blavatnik tops the Rich List with a fortune put at £23 billion, which is more than £7 billion up on last year. It is the second time he has topped the Rich List wealth rankings, a feat he last achieved in 2015. London-based, he was born in Odessa, moving to New York in his early 20s. His many business interests include Warner Music, in which he sold a £1.377 billion stake when it was floated last year. Last year’s No 1, Sir James Dyson and family, are £100 million up this year to stand at £16.3 billion, but he drops to fourth, overtaken by the vast gains of Blavatnik, David and Simon Reuben, and Sri and Gopi Hinduja.

The vast gains of those at the very top of the Rich List stand in stark contrast to the economic difficulties faced by so many in the past year with millions furloughed and their jobs at risk, while nearly 128,000 have lost their lives to Covid-19. The same pandemic created opportunities for internet fashion retailers, computer games tycoons and technology entrepreneurs who have delivered their products direct to front doors. There are also more unicorns – start-up businesses with a valuation in excess of $1 billion – to be found in the Rich List than ever before. These include Farfetch, the luxury online fashion retailer, whose founder Jose Neves debuts in this year’s Rich List with a £2 billion fortune, ranking 82=, and Cazoo, the online car dealing service, founded by Alex Chesterman, who makes his first appearance worth £750 million in 215th position.

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, ranked fifth in the UK, has seen the biggest rise in wealth of any Rich Lister in the past 12 months,  with gains of around £7.9 billion, largely derived from the rise in value of his ArcelorMittal steel-making business.

The 171 billionaires in this year’s Rich List beats the record of 151 set in 2019. Overall, the richest 250 in Britain this year are worth £658.089 billion, compared to £565.67 billion last year, a 16.3% gain.

Robert Watts, compiler of the Sunday Times Rich List, said: "This year's Sunday Times Rich List found a record number of UK billionaires - up 24 in just 12 months. The global pandemic created lucrative opportunities for many online retailers, social networking apps and computer games tycoons. The fact many of the super-rich grew so much wealthier at a time when thousands of us have buried loved ones and millions of us worried for our livelihoods makes this a very unsettling boom. 

And he sounded a note of caution around the durability of the gains made this year. "The valuations of many Rich Listers' companies have soared over the past year - especially the pack of tech businesses known as unicorns. I worry about the strength of the foundations. No-one wants to see a re-run of the Dotcom boom and bust of 20 years ago." 

For more information head to thesundaytimes.co.uk/richlist

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