Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has recently made headlines by selling approximately $2 billion worth of Amazon shares, a move that has sparked widespread speculation about his motives and the potential impact on his status among the world’s wealthiest individuals. This strategic sale involved offloading around 12 million shares of Amazon stock, priced between $168 and $171 per share, according to various stock market filings.
This significant transaction marks Bezos’ first major sale of Amazon stock since 2021 and is part of a broader plan announced earlier this year, where Bezos intends to sell up to 50 million shares by the end of the year, valued at roughly $8.5 billion. As of the end of December, Bezos owned just under 10% of Amazon, with his entire stake estimated at $168 billion.
The sale comes at a time when Amazon’s stock has seen a sharp increase, boosting Bezos’ estimated wealth by $22.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. This surge has propelled him to second place on the list of the world’s richest people, with a net worth of $200 billion at the time of publication. The exact reasons behind Bezos’ decision to sell a significant portion of his shares remain unclear, but it has notably narrowed the wealth gap between him and Elon Musk, potentially setting the stage for Bezos to reclaim the title of the world’s richest person.
Bezos first achieved the status of the world’s richest person in 2017, surpassing Bill Gates. Although the two billionaires traded off the title towards the end of that year, Bezos maintained the position from 2018 through 2021, according to Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, until Musk overtook him.
The recent increase in Bezos’ wealth contrasts with a decline in Musk’s fortune, which has decreased by $29 billion, partly due to a 27% drop in Tesla’s stock following weaker-than-expected growth for the electric car company. This fluctuation in fortunes has led to a reshuffling of the rankings on Forbes’ list of billionaires, with Musk currently holding the second position, just behind Bernard Arnault, the CEO and chairman of luxury goods group LVMH, and Bezos in third place. However, Bloomberg’s list, updated daily, places Musk in the top slot with a fortune of $209 billion, with Bezos trailing by about $9 billion.
Bezos’ recent stock sale is not an isolated event; he has previously liquidated large portions of his Amazon holdings, including a $2.5 billion sale in 2021 as he prepared to step down as CEO, and a $1.8 billion sale in 2020 following a surge in Amazon’s stock after the company’s 2019 full-year earnings call. In 2019, Bezos sold approximately $2.8 billion worth of Amazon stock.
This latest move by Bezos has not only financial but also symbolic significance, highlighting the dynamic nature of wealth and influence among the world’s richest individuals. As Bezos and Musk continue to vie for the top spot, their actions and investments will likely remain a focal point of interest for investors, industry observers, and the public at large.