The statement that Gina Rinehart has oodles of money is a given fact. Two years' worth of financial statements published by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) covering the years 2010 and 2011 said that profits of Hancock Prospecting, owned by Ms Rinehart, rose to $1.2 billion as of mid-2011 from $225 million in June 2009.
With an estimated wealth of $A29.17 billion in 2012, Business Review Weekly named her the world's richest woman after she surpassed Christy Walton. However, recent weakening of iron ore and coal prices as well as decline in the value of her shares at two media companies had caused Ms Rinehart to be dethroned from that position.
Although she is still Australia's richest person, five other women are ahead of Ms Rinehart in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index as of Jan 3, 2013.
They are Christy Walton (USA) with an estimated net worth of $28.8 billion, Liliane Bettencourt (USA) $26.8 billion, Alice Walton (USA) $26.2 billion, Iris Fontbona (Chile) $20.7 billion and Jacqueline Mars (USA) $20.4 billion.
Ms Rinehart, with an estimated net worth of $18.5 billion, is in 40th spot of the richest persons in the world. Christy Walton is 11th, Ms Bettencourt 14th, Alice Walton 16th, Ms Fontbona 31st and Ms Mars 32nd.
The richest person is Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim who has an estimated net worth of $76.9 billion. He was followed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates with $63.1 billion and on 4th spot in Warren Buffett with $50.3 billion.
Bloomberg estimated that Mr Slim's net work increased 2.3 per cent on an annual basis or by $1,100.2 million on a daily basis, while Mr Gates actually grew richer by 0.6 per cent yearly despite daily losses of $160.7 million.
Ms Rinehart's wealth went down 0.4 per cent on a yearly basis or $32.6 million on a daily basis. She owns substantial share in Ten Network and Fairfax Media whose shares tumbled down 56 per cent and 29 per cent in 2012, bringing her total loss to about $150 million per media company.
The mining tycoon had battled with ASIC over the release of the financial information because it would disclose commercially sensitive details about Hancock's current operations which may damage its bargaining power. It could also be used by three of her estranged adult children who are wrestling with their mother over control of a foundation set up by her father, Lang Hancock.
Christy Walton is the widow of John T. Walton, the second son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. When John died in 2005, she inherited a 9.8 per cent stake in Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the U.S. Ms Bettencourt is Europe's wealthiest woman by owing 31 per cent of L'Oreal, a French cosmetic firm. However, her wealth is now controlled by daughter Francoise and two grandsons by virtue of a court ruling in October 2011.
Alice Walton is the youngest child of the Wal-Mart founder, making her a sister-in-law of Christy. She owns about 343 million shares in Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer. Ms Fontbona is the widow of Andronico Luksic, making her the matriarch of Chile's richest family, which owns 65 per cent of copper producer Antofagasta.
Ms Mars, together with her two brothers owns Mars, the world's second-largest confectionary whose products includes the popular M&M, Milky Way and Snickers chocolates.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, slipped several notches down with an estimated net worth of $12.3 billion after he lost $5.2 billion in 2012 after the shares of the world's most popular social networking site declined 30 per cent following its initial public offering in May.
Despite these losses, Red Apple Group owner John Catsimatidis said 2012 was a great one for the world's billionaires. He predicted that 2013 would even be better for them as they continue to seek investment around the world that will further boost their fortune.
Being a billionaire is an aspiration for many people around the world as captured in this video by Bruno Mars.