Oligarch of Oligarchs
Vladimir Putin, rendered by the amazing Sonny Liew, for Whale Hunting

Oligarch of Oligarchs

Bradley Hope

It was about time we confronted one of the big candidates in our search for the world's richest person head-on. There's no better place to start than Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, a former intelligence operative who went on to become one of the most powerful and long-running leaders in Russian history. Along the way, he's won a reputation for ruthlessness and a seemingly unending appetite for international skulduggery and amassing power.

For first-time readers of WHALE HUNTING, here's a brief recap: 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, identifiable assets, etc. 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. All of 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?

Money matters. It's the closest thing to liquid power. Following its flows is the best tool journalists have to understand what's really going on out there. No surprise that there's a global industry trying to route money through complex arrays of shell companies and trusts. Secrecy Inc. is dedicated to preserving that power and shielding the rest of us from understanding who has it and how they're wielding it. (from our initial Rich List post)

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.

Check out our ongoing investigation into the richest people on earth. Our first candidates are Vladimir Putin / Jeff Yass / CZ / Khalifa bin Zayed

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