Slim's score was $53.5 billion, out-riching Gates by a mere half billion dollars. Slim built his personal wealth and that of his family on the privatization of Mexico's phone industry and the rise of America Movil ( AMX), the largest wireless company in Latin America and fourth-largest in the world. Slim's wealth hit $59 billion in 2007, when Fortune handed him the crown as the world's richest man. But like many investors, the financial crisis dragged down the value of his portfolio. There were times in 2008 when Slim had to get by on less than $50 billion in assets.
Until this year, Gates had topped the fat cat list for 14 of the past 15 years, even as he donated billions to his Gate Foundation charity. Forbes says Gate's asset value grew by $13 billion over the past year as Microsoft shares have risen 70%. No. 3 on Forbes' richest list is Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK.A) chief Warren Buffett, who benefitted from huge bets on Goldman Sachs ( GS) and GE ( GE) during the 2008 market crash. And for those keeping score, Apple ( AAPL) chief Steve Jobs ranked 136th on the Forbes list with $5.5 billion, thanks to the rise of Apple shares and his large Disney ( DIS) holdings. --Written by Scott Moritz in New York.