We are conducting a live investigation into who might be the world's richest person. The idea is that none of the existing rich lists could capture such a person because they rely heavily on metrics that are easier to confirm – public shareholdings, real estate in their own name and identifiable assets.
We aren't critical of those approaches except that we disagree the richest person on that list should be called the "richest" person on earth. It's clear that the ultra-rich go to extraordinary lengths to conceal their treasure. In some cases, it's just because they're simply private people. In other cases, it's because some of the money is ill-gotten or having such massive wealth is politically sensitive in their home countries. These reasons are precisely why we care more about the story of their wealth than that of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
All that secret wealth is like dark matter in the universe – it's huge and omnipresent and warps the very fabric of space-time, but we can't see it. What can someone actually accomplish with free access to tens and hundreds of billions of dollars? What's not for sale at that level?
Each of our candidates so far explain a bit more how the world really works, where this powerful resource is pooled and being used in strange and unexpected (and sometimes dastardly) ways.
Here are the candidates so far (with links to the newsletter edition where we highlighted them):