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Rich Get Richer: Bill Gates Tops Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans

The rich keep getting richer. Forbes on Monday released its annual list of the 400 richest people in America, and for the 21st straight year Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was No. 1. Gates’ net worth was pegged at $81 billion — up $9 billion from 2013, due in large part to a strong performance by Microsoft shares and the stock market in general. Gates’ friend, Warren Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, was second (the spot he’s occupied since 2001) with a net worth of $67 billion. Larry Ellison, who announced earlier this month that he is stepping down as CEO of Oracle, was No. 3 with a net worth of $50 billion. The combined wealth of Forbes’ 2014 ranking is $2.29 trillion, up from $2.02 trillion in 2013 and the highest ever.

Forty-seven women are on the list, down one from last year. This year includes newcomer Elizabeth Holmes (No. 110 — net worth $4.5 billion), who dropped out of Stanford and went on to found Theranos, a privately held Palo Alto, California, company that developed a quick and cheap finger-prick blood test.

CNBC.com hot list: Billionares hoarding cash 0:58

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— James Eng