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Jeff Bezos wins — and quickly loses — 'richest person' title as fortune falls by $6 billion overnight

  • Jeff Bezos was briefly the world's richest person.
  • After disappointing earnings, Amazon shares fell sharply, shaving $6 billion from Bezos' wealth.
  • Bezos owns more than 16 percent of Amazon shares, or about 80 million shares.

Jeff Bezos' wealth has been on a wild roller-coaster ride over the past 24 hours.

Thursday morning, the Amazon CEO became the richest man in the world when Amazon's stock soared on earnings expectations. By noon, when Amazon stock topped $1,082 per share, Bezos' wealth soared past $92 billion, putting him past Bill Gates.

But after disappointing earnings, Amazon stock plunged — and so did Bezos' net worth. Amazon stock opened at $1,011 and kept falling. His fortune fell by more than $6 billion from its peak on Thursday in recent trading. Bezos owns slightly more than 16 percent of Amazon.

Of course, we shouldn't shed a tear for Bezos. Even with the drop, his wealth has increased by more than $25 billion over the past year. And he is still the second-richest man in the world, ahead of Spanish retailing tycoon Amancio Ortega. Given that Bezos manages for the long term, it's likely he will regain the title of richest person again soon.

Bezos has been a billionaire for nearly 20 years, first making the Forbes list in 1998 with a net worth of $1.6 billion after Amazon's IPO. He chugged along for the following decade, reaching $4.4 billion in 2007, gradually rising to $18.4 billion by 2012, ranking him 26th on the list.

But over the past two years, as Amazon's stock has soared, so has Bezos' fortune. He owns 79.9 million shares. His net worth has grown by more than $65 billion over the past five years.

Yet the 24-hour ups and downs of Bezos' fortune show that today's paper wealth is just that — paper. What the market giveth, the market can also taketh away.

WATCH: The evolution of Jeff Bezos: See if you can recognize him through the years