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Economy's Down, Oprah's Not

Many of the world's richest people saw their fortunes shrink over the past year, but Oprah Winfrey's grew enough to make her the first black woman on Forbes magazine's list of billionaires.

Bill Gates led the list for the ninth straight year, but the Microsoft co-founder's net worth fell 23 percent from a year ago to $40.7 billion. Investment guru Warren Buffett remained in second place with $30.5 billion, a 13 percent drop from last year.

Membership in the billionaires' club fell by 21 this year to 476, the third year of declines since the economy weakened. The group's combined wealth also fell, to $1.4 trillion from $1.54 trillion last year.

"You see the poor economies wreaking havoc on their finances like everyone else. They're not immune," said Louisa Kroll, who edited Forbes' latest billionaires issue, which hits newsstands Friday.

Talk show host Winfrey bucked the trend with her burgeoning media empire, which put her on the list with a net worth of $1 billion. Her debut comes two years after Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson became the first black billionaire.

Gates' personal wealth, much of it in company stock, has dropped by 60 percent since April 1998, when it reached $100 billion. His worst year was 1999, when it plunged by a third as the government pursued an antitrust case against Microsoft.

Forbes noted Gates also is the world's biggest philanthropist, donating $1 billion annually to charity, largely to vaccine research.

The No. 3 spot on the billionaires' list stayed with German retailers Theo and Karl Albrecht. Their combined net worth dropped to $25.6 billion from $26.8 billion last year.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen held fourth place with a net worth of $20.1 billion, down from $25.2 billion. Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, Citigroup's largest individual investor, moved up to the fifth spot with a $17.7 billion fortune. Software mogul Lawrence Ellison and five members of the Walton family rounded out the top 10.

The United States has 222 billionaires, down from 243 last year and 272 in 2001. Asia's ranks of billionaires fell to 61, down 50 percent from its peak in 1996.

Europe's list grew to 134 billionaires, up from 121 last year. Russia has 10 new billionaires, thanks to higher oil prices, a 38 percent rise in stocks and a trend that has made it easier to identify the wealthiest Russians. Three years ago, there were no Russians listed; now there are 17.

The average age on the list is 64, though there are 25 billionaires under 40. The richest of those remains computer company founder Michael Dell, 38, who fell six places to 24th with a net worth of $9.8 billion.

The 37 women on the list were led by Alice Walton and her mother Helen Walton, whose equal $16.5 billion portions of the Wal-Mart fortune landed them in seventh place.

The Top 100t
1. Gates, William III, Washington, 47, $40.7, Microsoft
2. Buffett, Warren, Nebraska, 72, $30.5, investments
3. Albrecht, Karl and Theo, Germany, unknown, $25.6, retail
4. Allen, Paul, Washington, 50, $20.1, Microsoft
5. Alsaud, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Saudi Arabia, 46, $17.7, investments
6. Ellison, Lawrence, California, 58, $16.6, Oracle
7. Walton, Alice, Texas, 54, $16.5, Wal-Mart
7. Walton, Helen, Arkansas, 83, $16.5, Wal-Mart
7. Walton, Jim, Arkansas, 55, $16.5, Wal-Mart
7. Walton, John, Colorado, 57, $16.5, Wal-Mart
7. Walton, S. Robson, Arkansas, 59, $16.5, Wal-Mart
12. Bettencourt, Liliane, France, 80, $14.5, L'Oreal
13. Thomson, Kenneth and family, Canada, 79, $14, publishing
14. Kamprad, Ingvar, Sweden, 76, $13, Ikea
15. Rausing, Birgit and family, Sweden, unknown, $12.9, packaging
16. Ballmer, Steven, Washington, 46, $11.1, Microsoft
17. Kluge, John, Virginia, 88, $10.5, Metromedia
18. Anthony, Barbara Cox, Hawaii, 79, $10.3, media
18. Chambers, Anne Cox, Georgia, 83, $10.3, media
18. Ortega, Amancio, Spain, 67, $10.3, apparel
21. Mars, Forrest Jr., Virginia, 71, $10, candy
21. Mars, Jacqueline, New Jersey, 64, $10, candy
21. Mars, John, Virginia, 66, $10, candy
24. Dell, Michael, Texas, 38, $9.8, Dell
25. Johnson, Abigail, Massachusetts, 41, $8.2, mutual funds
26. Khodorkovsky, Mikhail, Russia, 39, $8, oil
26. Redstone, Sumner, Massachusetts, 79, $8, Viacom
28. Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong, 74, $7.8, diversified
29. Newhouse, Donald, New Jersey, 73, $7.7, media
29. Newhouse, Samuel Jr., New York, 75, $7.7, media
29. Rausing, Hans, Sweden, 76, $7.7, packaging
32. Pritzker, Robert, Illinois, 76, $7.6, hotels
32. Pritzker, Thomas, Illinois, 52, $7.6, hotels
34. Grosvenor, Gerald Cavendish, Britain, 51, $7.5, real estate
35. Slim Helu, Carlos, Mexico, 63, $7.4, telecom
36. Johnson, Samuel, Wisconsin, 74, $7.3, floor wax
37. Saji, Nobutada and family, Japan, 57, $7.1, beverages
38. Soros, George, New York, 72, $7, hedge funds
39. Heirs of Suliman Olayan, Saudi Arabia, unknown, $6.9, investments
40. Arnault, Bernard, France, 54, $6.7, LVMH
40. Persson, Stefan, Sweden, 55, $6.7, retail
42. Kwok, Walter, Thomas and Raymond, Hong Kong, unknown, $6.6, real estate
43. Weston, Galen and family, Canada, 62, $6.2, retail
44. Warner, H. Ty, Illinois, 59, $6, toys
45. Berlusconi, Silvio, Italy, 66, $5.9, media
45. Ergen, Charles, Colorado, 50, $5.9, satellite TV
45. Premji, Azim, India, 57, $5.9, software
48. Icahn, Carl, New York, 67, $5.8, investments
49. Abramovich, Roman, Russia, 36, $5.7, oil
49. Engelhorn, Curt, Germany, 76, $5.7, drugs
49. Flick, Friedrich Jr., Germany, 76, $5.7, investments
52. Del Vecchio, Leonardo, Italy, 67, $5.6, eyewear
52. von Finck, August, Germany, 72, $5.6, investments
54. Murdoch, Rupert, New York, 72, $5.5, News Corp.
54. Oetker, Rudolf August and family, Germany, 86, $5.5, food
54. Otto, Michael and family, Germany, 59, $5.5, retail
57. Klatten, Susanne, Germany, 41, $5.3, BMW
58. Al-Kharafi, Nasser and family, Kuwait, 59, $5.1, construction
59. Landolt, Pierre and family, Switzerland, 55, $5, Novartis
59. Omidyar, Pierre, California, 35, $5, eBay
59. Takei, Yasuo and family, Japan, 73, $5, credit
62. Anschutz, Philip, Colorado, 63, $4.9, Qwest
63. Bloomberg, Michael, New York, 60, $4.8, media
64. Bertarelli, Ernesto, Switzerland, 37, $4.7, biotech
65. Benetton, Luciano and family, Italy, 67, $4.6, Benetton
65. Davis, Marvin, California, 77, $4.6, investments
67. Wertheimer, Alain and Gerard, France, unknown, $4.5, Chanel
68. Fridman, Mikhail, Russia, 38, $4.3, oil
68. Mendoza, Lorenzo and family, Venezuela, 37, $4.3, beverages
68. Quandt, Stefan, Germany, 37, $4.3, BMW
71. Knight, Philip, Oregon, 65, $4.2, Nike
72. Itoyama, Eitaro, Japan, 60, $4.1, golf courses
72. Iwasaki, Fukuzo, Japan, 78, $4.1, real estate
72. Johnson, Edward III, Massachusetts, 72, $4.1, mutual funds
72. Kipp, Karl-Heinz, Germany, 79, $4.1, real estate
72. Mohn, Reinhard and family, Germany, 81, $4.1, media
72. Mori, Akira, Japan, 66, $4.1, real estate
78. Bren, Donald, California, 70, $4, real estate
78. Cisneros, Gustavo and family, Venezuela, 57, $4, media
78. Koch, Charles, Kansas, 67, $4, oil
78. Koch, David, New York, 62, $4, oil
82. Broad, Eli, California, 69, $3.9, real estate
83. Al-Hariri, Rafik and family, Lebanon, 59, $3.8, construction
83. Geffen, David, California, 60, $3.8, music
83. Haub, Erivan and family, Germany, 70, $3.8, retail
83. Schaeffler, Maria-Elisabeth and Georg, Germany, unknown, $3.8, ball bearings
83. von Holtzbrinck, Dieter and family, Germany, unknown, $3.8, publishing
88. de Carvalho, Charlene, Netherlands, 48, $3.7, Heineken
88. Lee Shau Kee, Hong Kong, 75, $3.7, real estate
88. Perot, Henry Ross, Texas, 72, $3.7, investments
88. Tsai Wan Lin and family, Taiwan, 78, $3.7, insurance
92. Johnson, Antonia, Sweden, 59, $3.6, diversified
92. Safra, Joseph and Moise, Brazil, unknown, $3.6, banking
94. Ferrero, Michele, Italy, 76, $3.5, chocolates
94. Irving, James, Arthur and John, Canada, unknown, $3.5, oil
94. Wrigley, William Jr., Illinois, 39, $3.5, chewing gum
97. Arango, Jeronimo, Mexico, 77, $3.4, retail
97. Kerkorian, Kirk, California, 85, $3.4, investments
97. Kuok, Robert, Malaysia, 80, $3.4, agriculture
97. Quandt, Johanna, Germany, 75, $3.4, BMW
101. Kadoorie, Michael and family, Hong Kong, 62, $3.3, diversified
101. Latsis, Spiro and family, Greece, 56, $3.3, banking
101. Merckle, Adolf, Germany, 68, $3.3, drugs

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