People with ten-digit fortunes can live pretty much anywhere they want. As it turns out, many like the same spots.
Of the 2,153 members of the 2019 Forbes World’s Billionaires List, 551 live in just 10 of the world’s 1,860 cities. Billionaires living in this relative handful of locations possess a collective $2.3 trillion of wealth, exceeding the GDP of all but seven nations on earth.
New York City again tops the list with 84 billionaires, whose combined net worth of $469.7 billion is greater than the GDP of Austria. The biggest city in the U.S. and home of the world’s two biggest stock exchanges, New York has housed the most billionaires for five years running.
The streak started in 2015 when it beat out Moscow, which has ranked as No. 3 since 2016. The Russian capital had 85 billionaires in 2014, 14 more than today.
China has the most cities in the top 10, with 145 of the nation’s billionaires living in just three places: No. 4 Beijing, No. 6 Shanghai and No. 8 Shenzhen. While all three Chinese cities have fewer billionaires than last year, they still account for 45% of the country’s list members.
That percentage may stand to grow even larger as China sprints toward further urbanization; the nation’s city-dwelling population has increased from 48% to 59% since 2009, per Chinese census data.
The same 10 sites were also the most popular on last year’s World’s Billionaires list, albeit with slightly shuffled rankings. San Francisco saw the biggest year-over-year jump, moving up from No. 10 to No. 7 and adding eight billionaires, including Coinbase cofounder Brian Armstrong and Levi Strauss heiress Mimi Haas.
Mumbai is the biggest loser, dropping from No. 7 to No. 10 with a net loss of eight billionaires. Nine fell off the list, including pharma bigwigs Samprada Singh and Basudeo Singh of Alkem Laboratories, whose stock price fell some 20%. Only one new billionaire emerged in India’s most populous city: paint company heir Mahendra Choksi.
Here are 10 cities with the most billionaires from No. 10 to No. 1:
10. Mumbai, 37 billionaires (-8 since 2018)
Total net worth: $184.4 billion
Richest resident: Oil and gas heir Mukesh Ambani, $50 billion
Mumbai is home to what is likely the most expensive residence on earth: Ambani’s $1 billion 27-story palace. It was also the site of one of the biggest, costliest weddings ever, again courtesy of Ambani. He hosted the week-long blockbuster celebration for his daughter Isha and the son of fellow billionaire Ajay Piramal in December 2018.
9. Seoul, 38 billionaires (-3)
Total net worth: $99.9 billion
Richest resident: Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, $16.9 billion
All but one of South Korea’s billionaires reside in its biggest city, and all are South Korean citizens. Seoul’s richest people control the nation’s biggest businesses, including global powerhouses Samsung and Hyundai. South Korea is also the world’s fourth-largest online gaming market (over $5.7 billion in revenue, per Newzoo), and the sector has produced five Seoul billionaires, including Maple Story-maker Kim Jung-ju.
8. Shenzhen, 39 billionaires (-5)
Total net worth: $190.5 billion
Richest resident: Tencent CEO Ma Huateng, $38.8 billion
Designated as a “special economic zone” during Chinese economic reforms of the 1980’s, the Hong Kong-bordering city has become an economic and tourist hub. Every listmaker from Shenzhen is a self-made billionaire, with its second-richest resident Hui Ka Yan working as a factory technician for ten years before founding one of China’s foremost real estate developers. Dorm room founder Frank Wangbecame the world’s first drone billionaire in 2016, along with an early investor and his marketing chief, both Shenzhen residents.
7. San Francisco, 42 billionaires (+8)
Total net worth: $109.2 billion
Richest resident: Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskowitz, $11.1 billion
The heart of America’s tech revolution, San Francisco is homebase for founders of Uber, Airbnb and Pinterest. The region’s influx of digital-age companies has made it the most expensive city in the U.S. (The entire Bay Area, including San Francisco and nearby cities, has 82 billionaires, still fewer than New York). One escapee: PayPal cofounder and Trump backer Peter Thiel, who moved to Los Angeles in 2018, reportedly for its greater political diversity.
6. Shanghai, 45 billionaires (-5)
Total net worth: $110.7 billion
Richest resident: Ecommerce entrepreneur Colin Huang, $13.5 billion
As ecommerce surges worldwide, so do fortunes like Huang’s, which is tied to internet retailer Pinduoduo. All those online-purchased items have created a massive package delivery market. Shanghai, also the world’s biggest port, is home to four major package delivery companies, each with a pair each of billionaires. The city’s richest logistics duo is tied to Yunda Express; its cofounding spouses Nie Tengyun and Chen Liying are worth a combined $5.1 billion.
5. London, 55 billionaires (+0)
Total net worth: $226 billion
Richest resident: Russian bank founder Mikhail Fridman, $15 billion
London, with more five star hotels than any other city, is a mecca for the uber rich. While 20 Brits call the cosmopolitan city home, 35 expatriate billionaires from 23 countries including India, Iceland and Russia have relocated to London. Five, including two Ikea heirs, come from high-taxed Sweden, more than any other nation. Four are Russians, including Russia’s richest woman Elena Baturina, whose husband was removed as mayor of Moscow in 2010. And though he’s not a resident, Chicago hedge fund head Ken Griffin bought a $122 million property just a ten minute walk from Buckingham Palace this January.
4. Beijing, 61 billionaires (-3)
Total net worth: $193.3 billion
Richest resident: Commercial real estate titan Wang Jianlin, $22.6 billion
Beijing is home to China’s two youngest billionaires, both products of the internet era: 33-year-old cryptocurrency miner Jihan Wu and 35-year-old ByteDance chair Zhang Yiming. The success of his $75 billion internet-era content creation hub has launched Zhang from the city’s No. 13 to No. 2 richest in just a year. He’s only topped by Wang, whose fortune comes from real estate. Tech (17) and real estate (12) are the most popular industries for billionaires in the Chinese capital.
3. Moscow, 71 billionaires (-6)
Total net worth: $336.5 billion
Richest resident: Natural gas oligarch Leonid Mikhelson, $24 billion
Nearly 80% of all billionaires in Russia live in its capital, which is also its most populous city. Moscow is home to five billionaires sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in April 2018: suspected election meddler Oleg Deripaska, Michael Cohen-tied Viktor Vekselberg, legislative official Andrei Skoch, former Putin judo partner Arkady Rotenberg and trained economist Suleiman Kerimov. Russia’s Great Gatsby (as he’s been called) Kerimov faced money-laundering charged in France that were dropped in June.
2. Hong Kong, 79 billionaires (+2)
Total net worth: $355.5 billion
Richest resident: Conglomerate kingpin Li Ka-shing, $31.7 billion
Housing prices in the city have quadrupled since the Great Recession, thanks to its government’s tight grip on supply. The booming market has vaulted the fortunes of developers like Lee Shau Kee and Peter Woo, and 29 Hong Kong billionaires (and half of its top-ten richest) count real estate as their chief source of wealth. But a correction may be imminent—a Citigroup survey says that 57% of Hongkongers anticipate a drop in residential real estate prices during 2019.
1. New York, 84 billionaires (+1)
Total net worth: $469.7 billion
Richest Resident: Media magnate Michael Bloomberg, $55.5 billion
Some Big Apple billionaires were born and raised in New York, including Estee Lauder heir Ronald Lauder, JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon and Highbridge Capital cofounder Henry Swieca. Dimon and Swieca are two of 40 billionaires in the city whose fortunes were built in finance, the richest of whom is Carl Icahn, one of few hedge fund managers to make money in 2018. And though the city’s most famous landlord now calls the White House home, 17 other real estate billionaires live in New York City. That includes native New Yorker Steven Roth, whose real estate company Vornado owns 70% of Trump’s skyscraper at 1290 Avenue of Americas. But just like in London, NYC’s priciest residence, a $238 million Central Park penthouse, is owned by out-of-towner Ken Griffin (he calls Chicago home).
-Carter CoudrietForbes Staff