Since we live in a digital age, we get used to hearing about every little movement from the world’s richest people. We watch Paris Hilton cavort around Cannes, or hear all about the tropical island the newest Silicon Valley billionaire purchased. We’ve gotten so used to hearing about the billionaires alive in our time that we forget that these people aren’t actually the richest people that the world has ever known.
A list compiled recently ranked the richest people in history, and only three are alive today. Check out a few of the ones you may not have heard about on the list below.
Mansa Musa I of Mali
The person who topped the list of the richest people to ever live is one that no one really has heard of before. His name was Mansa Musa I, and he was an emperor who ruled the Malian Empire in the 14th century. He made himself extraordinarily wealthy by exploiting the rich natural resources that his country was famous for: salt and gold. Researchers estimate that today, his net worth would sit at around $400 billion.
Unfortunately, his heirs were unable to hang on to the family fortune — although he did build many beneficial public buildings like mosques, by the next generation, the entire fortune had evaporated.