Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Picture: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Picture: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE

Elon Musk is no longer the world’s richest person after Tesla  shares slid 8.6% on Monday, wiping $15.2bn from his net worth.

Tesla’s biggest decline since September was fuelled in part by Musk’s comments over the weekend that the prices of bitcoin and smaller rival ether “do seem high”. His message —  via his favoured medium of Twitter — came two weeks after Tesla announced it added $1.5bn in bitcoin to its balance sheet.

The cryptocurrency, which has surged more than 400% over the past year, tumbled for a second day on Tuesday, slipping below $50,000 on scepticism over the durability of its rally. Tesla shares also continued their slide in early trading in New York, falling 5.2% to $677.50.

Musk also tweeted earlier on Monday that the company’s Model Y Standard Range SUV would still be available “off the menu”, backing up reports from electric vehicle news site Electrek that the model had been removed from its online configurator.

Musk drops to second on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index of the world’s 500 richest people with a net worth of $183.4bn — down from a peak of $210bn in January. Amazon.com  founder Jeff Bezos reclaimed the top spot even as his fortune fell by $3.7bn to $186.3bn on Monday.

The two billionaires have been swapping places since January as the value of Tesla fluctuated. The stock surged as much as 25% to start 2021 before wiping off almost all of this year’s gain. Musk briefly overtook Bezos after his rocket company SpaceX raised $850m earlier this month, valuing the company at $74bn, a 60% jump from August.

Bezos occupied the top spot on the ranking for three straight years before January, when Musk eclipsed the e-commerce titan thanks to a 794% rally in Tesla shares.

The market sell-off on Monday hit many of the world’s ultra-rich. Zhong Shanshan, Asia’s wealthiest person, was the second-biggest decliner on the Bloomberg index, dropping by $5.1bn as his bottled-water company fell 4.5%. Colin Huang of Pinduoduo, Reliance Industries’s Mukesh Ambani and Tencent’s Pony Ma all lost more than $2.5bn each.

Bloomberg

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