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New world's richest man? Depends who's counting

Amancio Ortega
Xurxo Lobato | Getty Images
Amancio Ortega

Forbes says there's a new richest man in the world. But other billionaire counters say nothing has changed.

In a story published Thursday night, Forbes said Amancio Ortega, the reclusive Spanish retailing magnate who founded Zara, has surpassed Bill Gates to become the richest man in the world. They say his fortune gained $1.7 billion on Thursday, and his net worth is now estimated to be $77.8 billion to $79.5 billion. Forbes estimates Gates' fortune to be $78.4 billion.

But it may be too early to declare Ortega the new Gates. Forbes' "real-time billionaire's list" still has Gates on top, with his $78.4 billion fortune topping Ortega's $78.1 billion. (Though perhaps Forbes hadn't updated it in real time).

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index has Gates nearly $10 billion ahead, with a net worth estimated at $89.7 billion and Ortega at $79.2 billion.

Bill Gates
Lacy O’ Toole | CNBC
Bill Gates

We'll see if Bloomberg updates its list or if other billionaire bean-counters like Wealth-X update theirs — or keep Gates as king.

And Ortega's rise may also be fleeting: He topped Gates briefly last year, according to Forbes, only to retreat to number two after his stock fell.

But whether it's Ortega or Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg, the world may soon have a more permanent number one after Gates has ruled the billionaire lists for over 15 years.

Read Forbes' full story here.