- This week Jeff Bezos sold 12 million shares of Amazon stock, netting about $2 billion.
- It's Bezos' first major sale of stock in the company since 2021.
- The move puts Bezos' within reach of overtaking Elon Musk as the world's richest man.
The sale was in keeping with a plan announced by the company earlier in February for Bezos to sell off 50 million shares by the end of the year, valued at roughly $8.5 billion total.
Bezos owned 988 million shares, just shy of 10% of Amazon, at the end of December, according to the company's 2023 proxy statement, with his entire stake worth about $168 billion.
A sharp rise in Amazon's stock this year has led to a $22.6 billion rise in the company's founder and executive chairman's estimated wealth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The surge has propelled Bezos into second place on the world's richest people list, with a net worth of $200 billion at the time of publication.
While the exact motive behind Bezos' decision to offload shares is unknown, the massive sale does shrink the gap between his and Elon Musk's net worth, positioning Bezos to overtake the Tesla CEO in the rankings of the world's richest people.
Before this week's sale of Amazon stock, Bezos' net worth was only $5 billion behind Musk's $200 billion fortune, putting the title of #1 billionaire well within reach. Musk's net worth rose to $209 billion in the days since, per Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, but the race for Bezos to catch up to Musk is on.
Bezos first became the richest person in the world in 2017, overtaking Bill Gates. The pair traded off the title through the end of the year, but Bezos held the position of the wealthiest man in the world from 2018 through 2021, per Forbes' list of the world's billionaires, when Musk overtook him.
As Bezos' wealth has surged this year, Musk's has fallen by $29 billion, due in part to a 27% plunge in Tesla's stock prompted by weaker-than-expected growth for the electric car company, as well as a Delaware judge's January 30 ruling that voided Musk's $55 billion compensation package at Tesla.
Forbes' list of billionaires as of February 1 positions Musk as the #2 billionaire, second to Bernard Arnault, the CEO and chairman of luxury goods group LVMH, and Bezos holding the third place title. Bloomberg's list, however, which is updated at the close of every trading day in New York, ranks Musk as having the top slot with a fortune of $209 billion, with Bezos about $9 billion behind and Arnault in third.
Musk maintains 411 million, or about 13% of Tesla shares, valued at roughly $73 billion. His investments in his other companies, including SpaceX, The Boring Company, and X, comprise the rest of his wealth.
Bezos and representatives for Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
This week's stock sale is not Bezos' first time offloading a large portion of his Amazon holdings, though it is the only major sale he's made since 2021. That year, Bezos sold $2.5 billion worth of shares as he prepared to step down as CEO.