It's a great time to be imaginary.
"Global markets are rapidly recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, and so are the fortunes of the fictitious. There are six new characters on the 2010 edition of Fictional 15, our annual ranking of fiction's richest, with an average net worth of $7.3 billion. In aggregate, the nine returning members are worth $79.8 billion, up 9 percent since we last checked in on them.
Topping the list this year is newcomer Carlisle Cullen, patriarch of the Cullen coven of vampires in the "Twilight" series of novels. Cullen, age 370, has accumulated a fortune of $34.1 billion — much of it from long-term investments made with the aid of his adopted daughter Alice, who picks stocks based on her ability to see into the future. Low-key and undead, Cullen has spent recent years posing as a mortal doctor in a small town in Washington State.
Chuck Bass, the brooding, manipulative heir to deceased New York real estate legend Bart Bass, makes his Fictional 15 debut this year with an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion. The "Gossip Girl" star and fashion icon (daywear, the three P's: Purple, Plaid and Preppy; nightwear, the three V's: vests, velvet and Valentino) recently sat for a Forbes fictional interview.
Also new to this year's list: Sir Topham Hatt ($2 billion), the railroad tycoon from television's "Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends," Lucille Bluth ($950 million), the matron of the dysfunctional Bluth real estate family from "Arrested Development," and the Tooth Fairy ($3.9 billion), who has blown several previous fortunes 50 cents at a time. Jay Gatsby, the shady Long Island dandy from F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," returns to the list after an absence of several years with a billion-dollar fortune.
Uncle Sam is the highest profile drop-off this year. The crusty frontiersman and former U.S. Army recruitment officer had the largest net worth swing in Fictional 15 history, from an estimate of "infinite" last year to less than a billion today. Yes, he has the ability to print money — literally — but how much exactly is that money worth? Gordon Gekko, the hero of the forthcoming "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," drops off the list after a stint in federal lock-up. We also mourn the passing of Jabba the Hutt from the "Star Wars" universe. The crime lord was found dead late last year under salacious circumstances.
Fictional 15 perennials Scrooge McDuck ($33.5 billion) and Jed Clampett ($7.2 billion) had banner years, reflecting surging gold and oil prices respectively. Only Richie Rich ($11.5 billion) and Thurston Howell III ($2.1) billion have seen their fortunes decline over the past year.
To qualify for the Fictional 15, we require that candidates be an authored fictional creation, a rule which excludes mythological and folkloric characters. They must star in a specific narrative work or series of works. And they must be known, both within their fictional universe and by their audience, for being rich.
Net worth estimates are based on an analysis of the fictional character's source material, and valued against known real-world commodity and share price movements. In the case of privately held fictional concerns, we sought to identify comparable fictional public companies. All prices are as of market close, April 12, 2010.
We reserve the right to bend or break any of our own rules — so yes, we know Uncle Sam and the Tooth Fairy are folkloric.
© 2012 Forbes.com