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Warren Buffett Named World's Richest Billionaire By Forbes

Warren Buffett is now the world's richest person, topping the just-released Forbes 2008 ranking of global billionaires, with an estimated wealth of $62 billion.

He bumps Microsoft's Bill Gates from the number one spot, a position Gates held for 13 consecutive years.

With help from Berkshire Hathaway's best year in almost a decade, Forbes estimates Buffett's wealth increased by $10 billion from the $52 billion that put him in the number two slot of the magazine's list last year.

UPDATE: Warren Buffett Jokes to CNBC - I Passed Gates Because I "Spend Less"

It's the second year in a row Buffett's wealth has jumped by $10 billion, even as begins to give away lots of money to charities, notably the Gates Foundation.

Gates falls to number three this year with $58 billion, behind Mexico's Carlos Slim, who is number two with an estimated wealth of $60 billion. Forbes says Gates would have been "as rich -- or richer -- than Buffett" if Microsoft's stock hadn't dropped sharply after it unsolicited bid for Yahoo last month.

Last summer and fall, several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine called Slim the "world's richest man" due to the soaring value of Mexican stocks he holds, including Telefonos de Mexico and America Movil . In October, Forbes informally declared Slim and Gates to be in a "virtual tie" for the title of World's Richest Person.

Mexican stocks, however, have faded in recent months, giving Buffett an opening.

In my post yesterday (Tuesday) at about this time, I asked: Will Warren Buffett Still Be the World's Second Richest Person 24 Hours from Now? and showed this chart, which has Berkshire (in blue) outperforming both Microsoft (orange) and Telefonos de Mexico (green) over the last twelve months.

To be totally honest, while I thought and wrote yesterday that Buffett could give Gates and Slim a good "run for their money," I expected the answer to my headline question to be 'no' with Buffett falling to third.

Instead, he's number one on the list that comes closest to being the 'official' scorecard for the super-rich.

That should give all the Buffett fans heading to Omaha something to celebrate at Berkshire Hathaway's annual "Woodstock for Capitalists" two months from now.

Current Berkshire price:

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Here's the Forbes top five:

  1. Warren Buffett - $62 billion
  2. Carlos Slim - $60 billion
  3. Bill Gates - $58 billion
  4. Lakshmi Mittal - $45 billion
  5. Mukesh Ambani - $43 billion

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com