Money and Markets

Nicky Oppenheimer is now richer than Johann Rupert again, as markets mess with billionaires

Business Insider SA
Nicky Oppenheimer (left) and Johann Rupert (right). (Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images; Cornel van Heerden, Media24)
Nicky Oppenheimer (left) and Johann Rupert (right). (Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images; Cornel van Heerden, Media24)
  • Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert have swapped places as the richest person in South Africa again.
  • After a tough market run for Rupert's Richemont, the Oppenheimer heir is now worth about $300 million more than the Rupert family.
  • Oppenheimer's net worth is a lot less volatile than Rupert's, and if sentiment about luxury goods turn, they could easily swap places again.
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Nicky Oppenheimer, the heir to his grandfather's mining fortune, is once again South Africa's richest person, having overtaken Johann Rupert, the heir to his father's tobacco fortune, in the billionaire rankings.

Oppenheimer is now worth about R300 million more than Rupert and family, according to Bloomberg's authoritative billionaires index. That ranks them as 231st and 232nd respectively in the list of the richest people on the planet.

Oppenheimer's net worth is calculated to be about R134 billion, with Rupert about R300 million behind.

Rupert's holdings were hit hard by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and more recently by an expected slowdown in demand from China for its expensive watches and other luxury goods.

On the level of Rupert and his family, that has cost more than $50 billion in net worth over the year to date, according to Bloomberg's calculations.

See also | Strive Masiyiwa surpasses Patrice Motsepe to become the richest black man in Southern Africa

Oppenheimer, on the other hand, is now worth about R9 billion more than he was at the beginning of the year, or so the best estimate goes. In 2021 he cashed out of his family's historic diamond business De Beers, leaving much of his net worth in private equity investments around the world. 

Those are a lot harder to value than the publicly-traded Cie Financiere Richemont, the owner of brands such as Cartier and Mont Blanc, in which the vast majority of Rupert's wealth lies.

The former South African Elon Musk took a large hit to his wealth recently, after it emerged his company SpaceX paid a settlement to an air hostess who alleged he proposed to buy her a horse in return for a sex act.

Even so, Musk remains the most wealthy person in the world by a huge margin; at R3.15 trillion, Musk could buy the combined assets of Oppenheimer and Rupert 10 times over, and still be left with not much under half a billion rand to spare.

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