As his electric vehicle and space exploration companies fired on all cylinders, Elon Musk’s fortune increased by more than $126 billion in just one year.


Even amid a record year for billionaire wealth, no one in the world has had a better twelve months than Elon Musk. The Tesla cofounder and CEO’s fortune has grown an unprecedented amount, making him the second-richest person on Forbes’ 2021 World’s Billionaires list, with a net worth of $151 billion. (Forbes used stock prices from March 5.)

Musk’s net worth shot up by an astounding $126.4 billion since March 18, 2020 as Tesla shares soared over the past year. That makes Musk, who was worth $24.6 billion on last year’s list, the biggest gainer in dollar terms on the 2021 ranking. In percentage terms, he’s more than 500% richer than he was a year ago.

The surge in Musk’s fortune is primarily driven by the rise of Tesla shares, which are up more than 300% since last year’s list, even after taking into account a 32% drop in the share price since its January 2021 high of $900 per share. The company has continued to win over investors by introducing new vehicles, increasing deliveries and beating analyst expectations. Tesla was added to the S&P 500 Index in December.

Musk derives the bulk of his fortune from his 21% stake in Tesla. He holds around 147 million shares and has over 56 million in vested options awards. As Tesla hit various milestones over the course of 2020, Musk received several tranches of options worth billions of dollars each, according to regulatory filings.

Musk’s second-largest venture, SpaceX, has also thrived. In May 2020, the private space exploration company launched what was America’s first manned orbital mission since 2011. In November, SpaceX started shuttling astronauts to and from the International Space Station. 

By February 2021, the rocket company completed another round of funding, raising $850 million at a reported $74 billion valuation, up from a $46 billion valuation in August 2020. Forbes estimates that Musk’s nearly 48% stake in SpaceX is now worth about $32 billion.

In a year of feats for Musk, he overtook Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to become the world’s fourth-richest person in early November 2020, then surpassed Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates (worth $124 billion) for the number three spot. A month later, the Tesla CEO leapfrogged French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault (worth $150 billion) to become the world’s second-richest person.

In early January 2021, Musk briefly overtook Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as the world’s wealthiest person, as his net worth peaked at around $190 billion. Bezos has since regained that title, and is worth $177 billion as of March 5, 2021, according to Forbes.