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5 men you didn’t realise were billionaires

By Forbes’ last count there were 1,741 billionaires in the world. As you’d expect there are plenty most of us simply haven’t heard of, making their thousands of millions through less publicised means. On the other hand there are names on the list you just simply wouldn’t quite expect, public figures who have personal fortunes vastly outweighing preconceived estimates.

BRUNELLO CUCINELLI – $1.05bn

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The Italian king of cashmere may not be the glamorous name to rival countrymen Stefano Gabbana, Domenico Dolce and Georgio Armani, but he joins them on the billionaire roll call. A successful IPO of Brunello Cucinelli SpA gave his personal wealth a boost and he moved operations to the medieval Italian town of Solomeo in 1985, renovating the town since – building a school, amphitheatre, sports complex and restoring the castle. A humanitarian, he donates 20% of profits to charitable causes.

JAMES DYSON – $5bn

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One of the stars of our Spring Entrepreneurs Issue, James Dyson is a well-documented visionary, but his exact wealth is likely to shock more than a few. With a cool $5bn in the bank the inventor of the bagless vacuum is the 10th richest man in the UK, beating out Richard Branson who lies 12th. He credits his continuing success to a focus on R&D and has accumulated a property portfolio of 25,000 acres. Read our interview with him in the current issue.

MICHAEL JORDAN – $1bn

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The basketball legend made millions on the court, but his riches in retirement are what have propelled him to that billion-dollar milestone. He became the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets (formerly Bobcats) and with the soaring value of NBA franchises his stake in the Hornets is now worth over $500m. His Royal Airness still manages to rake in over $100m a year through endorsement deals with Nike and the like, dwarfing the $94m he made in salary during a 15-year NBA career.

STEVEN SPIELBERG – $3.6bn

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The peerless filmmaker and silver screen’s most powerful man is world renowned for ageless classics like Jaws and E.T. The stars of Hollywood though rarely grace the Forbes list and Spielberg hasn’t become a multi-billionaire through directing films alone. He is the co-founder of DreamWorks studios and takes plenty from non-film royalties on many of his back catalogue.

RYAN KAVANAUGH – $1bn

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This lesser known of the media moguls founded Relativity Media in 2004 and the studio now has a number of Hollywood hits under the belt, including Bradley Cooper’s Limitless and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon. Low budgets and smart financing have made its “Moneyball” model a massive success. Kavanaugh has also diversified investments into areas such as biotech, pet food and real estate.

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