They make flip-flops and pet food. They sell miniskirts and motorcars. They mine iron ore and distribute soda. Their net worth totals $2.7 trillion (€2.10tn), about the size of the gross domestic product of France, the fifth-biggest economy on the planet.
Bloomberg Markets' inaugural list of the world's richest people, in the magazine's December 2012 issue, showcases the top billionaires who pull the levers on the global economy.
The 76-year-old founded Inditex, the world's largest clothing retailer, which is known for its more than 1,600 trendy Zara stores.
He made more than $18bn from the start of the year -- or about $66m a day. That windfall was more than enough for the Spanish tycoon to eclipse Buffett -- who's now number four, with $48.4bn.
Ortega's ascent coincides with an overall rise in retail stocks. Low cotton costs, cheap credit and demand for reasonably priced goods have driven shares of Wal-Mart Stores and Inditex to records. Nine of the world's 25 wealthiest people are retail moguls. Among them are Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, four members of the Walton family that controls Wal-Mart and Stefan Persson, the largest shareholder in Swedish clothing giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M).
Bloomberg unmasked more than 30 hidden billionaires this year. Brazil's Dirce Navarro de Camargo inherited her late husband's industrial conglomerate, Camargo Correa, in 1994.
Elaine Tettemer Marshall controls 15pc of Koch Industries, a massive US energy and materials company.
With fortunes of about $12bn each, both women remain billions shy of Gina Rinehart, the richest woman in the Asia-Pacific region.
But proving that money can't buy you happiness; she's involved in a bitter row with her children over the family's $19.1bn minerals empire.