The fashion mogul is third only to Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim Helú and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Despite ceding presidency of the company to a successor last summer, Ortega retains a 59% stake in the company, giving him enough clout to push super-investor Warren Buffet into fourth place in Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
Ortega, 76, opened the first store in the now-global Zara chain in 1975. Since then, he has expanded his holdings to include Zara Home, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka and other brands.
Other fashion tycoons included in Bloomberg’s list of the world’s top 40 billionaires include H&M owner Stefan Persson, in 13th place with a $25.7bn fortune; LVMH owner Bernard Arnault, 15th with $24.6bn; and Liliane Bettencourt, whose 31% stake in L’Oreal puts her in 16th place with a $24.1bn fortune.
If Ortega’s name is less familiar than his peers at the top of the billionaire charts, he’s happy to keep it that way, as he’s more interested in building his company than enjoying publicity connected to his fortune. It’s a trait shared by his children. When daughter Marta Ortega married equestrian Sergio Alvarez in February 2012, she commissioned Zara designers to create her gown. And with catwalk-inspired designs galore on the shelves, why wouldn’t she?