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World's Billionaires Grow Even Richer, Led by Bill Gates

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Patrick, Rizzo, NBC News

The list of the world's billionaires has risen to new heights, with many more women joining the ranks of the ultrawealthy, according to Forbes' annual ranking, released Monday.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates returned to the pinnacle of prosperity, beating out Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim Helu. Gates, who had slipped from the top spot for the past four years, was catapulted past Slim thanks to a $9 billion rise in his fortune aided by a boost to Microsoft shares. Gates is worth about $76 billion as of March, according to Forbes. Slim's fortune is valued at $72 billion.

Spain's retailing mogul Amancio Ortega ($64 billion) kept his place at No. 3, with Warren Buffett ($58.2 billion) at No. 4.

In total, Forbes found that there were 1,645 billionaires around the world, with an aggregate net worth of $6.4 trillion (yes, that's trillion, with a T), up from $5.4 trillion last year. A record 268 people joined the list, which includes 172 women, the most ever, an increase of 42 women billionaires.

Among the women on the list: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey, Spanx's Sara Blakely and fashion designed Tory Burch.

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