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Pictures Of The Year 2019: The Other Half. People workout in a quayside gym beside luxury superyacht Amadea, manufactured by Luerssen Verwaltungs GmbH, at night ahead of the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) in Port Hercules, Monaco, on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. Street protests, the changing climate and access to new technology have one crucial underlying theme in common: disparity. In most places in the world, the juxtaposition of rich and poor remains striking. Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

World’s richest lose US$444 billion after hellish week for markets

Pictures Of The Year 2019: The Other Half. People workout in a quayside gym beside luxury superyacht Amadea, manufactured by Luerssen Verwaltungs GmbH, at night ahead of the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) in Port Hercules, Monaco, on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. Street protests, the changing climate and access to new technology have one crucial underlying theme in common: disparity. In most places in the world, the juxtaposition of rich and poor remains striking. Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Last week was an expensive one for most investors, even for billionaires.

More than US$6 trillion was wiped from global stocks in the week.

The combined fortunes of the world’s 500 richest people fell by US$444 billion as the coronavirus continued to spread — and spread fear — rattling equity markets worldwide. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 12 per cent, the biggest five-day slide since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, in a rout that vaporised more than US$6 trillion from global stocks.

The drubbing more than erased the $78 billion in gains that the 500 wealthiest people had amassed since the start of the year through last week, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The world’s three wealthiest people, which includes Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, lost a combined US$30 billion in the slide.

The world’s three richest people — Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault — incurred the biggest losses, with their combined wealth dropping about $30 billion.

Elon Musk, the world’s 25th-richest person, rang up the fourth-largest weekly loss — $9 billion — as shares of his Tesla Inc. slid after a steep climb to start the year. He’s still up $8.8 billion in 2020 and has a net worth of $36.3 billion.

Stocks tumbled as health officials struggle to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Health officials are struggling to contain the virus, which can cause a potentially deadly pneumonia-like illness in a minority of patients and spread from others who look healthy. The World Health Organization has thus far refrained from declaring it a pandemic.

About 80 per cent of billionaires on Bloomberg’s wealth ranking are now in the red this year, including those whose businesses have been swept up in the global drama. Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison lost $1 billion this week as the world’s largest cruise-line operator held tourists aboard one of its ships in Japan, where at least five passengers have died.