Brexit-backing inventor Sir James, 73, saw his wealth increase by £3.6billion over the past year to £16.2billion, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. But the coronavirus crisis has hit others hard, including Sir Richard, 69, whose companies include flights giant Virgin Atlantic. As a result of lockdown, his fortune fell by £425million to £3.6billion.
Back in February it was expected that the number of billionaires on the list would rise to 160 – but it fell by four to 147 as Covid-19 took hold. And half the billionaires suffered losses, totalling £29billion.
They include Jim Ratcliffe, 67, chairman of the Ineos chemicals group, whose personal fortune fell by £6billion to £12.15billion.
Chelsea FC owner and businessman Roman Abramovich experienced a £1.07billion drop to £10.16billion. And steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and his family were down by £3.89billion, from £10.67billion.
In just two months the pandemic wiped £54billion off the total owned by the 1,000 richest people and their families resident in the UK. It is the first time this has happened since the financial crash of 2008/09.
This year heavy industry, aviation and retail were hardest hit. Losers include easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who saw his wealth drop £538million to £1.754billion, and the entrepreneur behind Jet2Holidays, Philip Meeson, who suffered a shares drop of £700million. His fortune now stands at £342million.
List compiler Robert Watts said: “It paints a picture of Britain on the brink of calamity just two months into the pandemic.
“You may not like the super-rich, but our economy will need the jobs they create and the taxes they and their companies pay if we are to escape a prolonged recession.”
James Dyson (£16.2bn)
Sri and Gopi Hinduja (£16bn)
David and Simon Reuben (£16bn)
Leonard Blavatnik (£15.78bn)
Jim Ratcliffe (£12.15bn)
Kirsten and Jorn Rausing (£12.1bn)
Alisher Usmanov (£11.68bn)
Guy, George and Galen JrWeston (£10.53bn)
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho (£10.3bn)
The Duke of Westminster (£10.29bn)