Spanish retail giant Amancio Ortega just surpassed Bill Gates to become the richest man in the world.
The reason many of you have never even heard of Amancio Ortega is because he doesn’t seem to like the spotlight, but you have probably heard of or bought from one of his brands.
Ortega learned how to make handmade clothes at the age of 14, when he worked as a shop hand for a local shirtmaker called Gala, in downtown A Coruña, Spain. He found his passion in clothes making, and in 1972, began selling quilted bathrobes made by local women he had organized within his Confecciones Goa, which he founded that year.
Three years later, together with his then-wife, Rosalia Mera, opened up the world’s first Zara store, but was only given that name because his preferred name, Zorba, was already being used by another retailer.
As you might know, Zara grew, and is today part of the Inditex group (Industrias de Diseño Textil Sociedad Anónima), which 59.29% owned by Ortega himself. Inditex group have over 92,000 employees across their 6,000 stores around the world. Their brands include the popular brands Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy’s Class, Tempe, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear, and Bershka.
Even though he is one of wealthiest men alive (now wealthiest), Ortega has kept a very low profile. In fact, the first ever photograph published of the retail guru wasn’t before 1999.
He became the world’s richest man, when the the Inditex shares rose 2.5% in 2016, putting his net fortune at an estimate of $79.5 billion, according to Forbes. Bill Gates however, enjoys a net worth of $78.5 billion.
The 80-year-old Spaniard rarely speaks to the media and spends his life in heavily guarded privacy. He has never been seen wearing a tie, and never in Zara brands.
And even though he owns The Global Express BD-700, a $45 million private jet that was designed by Bombardier, he says he loves working too much to take time off and go on a vacation.