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Bill Gates was briefly overtaken as the world's richest person

Zara founder Amancio Ortega is in a seesaw battle with Gates for the top spot.

Germany Gates Still on top. Source: Michael Sohn/PA Images

THERE’S A BATTLE to be the richest person in the world right now with Bill Gates briefly relinquishing his crown during the day before grabbing back the top spot.

For the first time ever, Spanish clothing magnate Amancio Ortega overtook Microsoft founder Bill Gates according to Forbes’ real-time tracker

According to Forbes’ real-time tracker, the elusive multi-billionaire founder of European clothing retailer Zara smashed past Bill Gates to become the wealthiest person on the planet, when his fortune hit $80 billion (€72.5 billion).

It came after a surge in Inditex shares, the parent company that owns Zara.

It didn’t last too long though with Ortega’s shares dropping slightly from €33.99 per share to €33.80 per share bringing him back into second place.

PastedImage-27571 Source: Forbes

The chopping and changing at the top shows how the elusive Ortega has quietly ascended the wealth rankings in recent years, as his company continues to perform well and expand.

Unlike many of the richest people in the world, Ortega has a fascinating rags-to-riches story. Born in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, Ortega’s father earned 300 pesetas a month, a meagre salary.

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Source: Bloomberg Business/YouTube

Ortega’s biographer described his memories of a childhood during which his family could not always afford enough food. He left school in his early teens, working his way up from the absolute bottom rung as a messenger boy in a shop.

It wasn’t until he was 40 years old that Ortega got around to setting up Zara, the fast-fashion retailer that has gone from strength to strength — first growing in Spain, then neighbouring Portugal and France, then London. Now it’s all over the globe.

According to Forbes, Ortega’s wealth rose by 5.3%, another $4 billion, over the last 24 hours.

- Business Insider with reporting from Rónán Duffy

Read: These are Europe’s 11 richest billionaires who never went to university >

Read: David McWilliams turns down Celebrity Economist Debtmatch with Dan O’Brien >

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