Len Blavatnik is UK's richest man - as wealth of Britain's richest people grew by 22% during pandemic

The 171 billionaires in this year’s Rich List beats the record of 151 set in 2019
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Sir Leonard Blavatnik is the UK’s richest person according to the new edition of The Sunday Times Rich List.

The 76-page special edition, which publishes the wealth of the 250 richest people in the UK, found that the Ukraine-born entrepreneur was the richest of the UK’s 171 billionaires.

The record number of billionaires increased by 24 compared to 2020, despite economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic gripping the country.

Len Blavatnik has been named the richest man in the UK (Getty Images)Len Blavatnik has been named the richest man in the UK (Getty Images)
Len Blavatnik has been named the richest man in the UK (Getty Images)

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, meanwhile, became the youngest person to top The Sunday Times Giving List, the annual measure of philanthropy among the super-rich.

Number of billionaires soar against backdrop of coronavirus-induced recession

According to the rich list, the combined wealth of the 171 UK billionaires is £597.269 billion, up £106.582 billion, or 21.7 per cent on the total wealth of billionaires featured last year.

The eye-watering gains are in stark contrast to the financial hardships faced by many in the UK this year, with millions moved on to government-funded furlough pay and many now without jobs due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Over 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths have also been recorded in the UK since the beginning of the pandemic.

The ten richest people in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Rich List (NationalWorld)The ten richest people in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Rich List (NationalWorld)
The ten richest people in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Rich List (NationalWorld)

While the pandemic was hard on many, it created lucrative opportunities for others, with online retailers and social networking apps among those to benefit.

Robert Watts, compiler of the Sunday Times Rich List, said: "This year's Sunday Times Rich List found a record number of UK billionaires - up 24 in just 12 months. The global pandemic created lucrative opportunities for many online retailers, social networking apps and computer games tycoons. The fact many of the super-rich grew so much wealthier at a time when thousands of us have buried loved ones and millions of us worried for our livelihoods makes this a very unsettling boom.

And he sounded a note of caution around the durability of the gains made this year. "The valuations of many Rich Listers' companies have soared over the past year - especially the pack of tech businesses known as unicorns. I worry about the strength of the foundations. No-one wants to see a re-run of the Dotcom boom and bust of 20 years ago."

Who is Len Blavatnik?

Blavatnik tops the Rich List with a fortune put at £23 billion, which is more than £7 billion up on last year.

It is the second time he has topped the Rich List wealth rankings, a feat he last achieved in 2015. London-based, he was born in Odessa, moving to New York in his early 20s.

His many business interests include Warner Music, in which he sold a £1.377 billion stake when it was floated last year.

Marcus Rashford tops giving list

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford became the youngest person to top the Giving List which has been published alongside the Rich List for 20 years.

The 23-year-old launched a high-profile campaign to get children eligible for free school meals fed regularly when schools were shut during lockdown.

Acting as an ambassador for FareShare, Rashford’s efforts triggered an estimated £20 million of additional donations to the food poverty charity. This gives him a Giving Index of 125 (the £20 million representing 125 per cent of his net worth of £16 million).

Jordan Henderson, the captain of Liverpool, also features in this year’s Giving List, ranked sixth, to mark his role in raising £4m for the NHS from fellow Premier League footballers through the #PlayersTogether coronavirus appeal.