GOOD times are rolling back, steadily and surely, if the latest Forbes rich list is anything to go by. Amid all the doom and gloom last year, well over three quarters of the 400 billionaires on the list saw their wealth tank, with almost $40bn (£25bn) draining out of the coffers of the top ten.

This year, the hard times are but a distant memory for the world’s wealthiest – over half of whom are now worth more than they were last year, while only 84 out of the 400 are now weeping over emptier wallets.

Old Faithful Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, remains on his gilded throne as the richest man in the world for the 17th year at a stretch, with a fortune of $54bn – up $4bn on 2009. Octogenarian investment guru Warren Buffett was a distant second with $45bn, also up $5bn, while Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s bank balance stayed level at $27bn, keeping him in third place.

The biggest mover was Facebook whippersnapper Mark Zuckerberg, whose fortune more than tripled to $6.9bn from $2bn, while the wealth of the entire 400 hit $1.37 trillion, up from $1.27 trillion in 2009.


While we’re on the subject of the Forbes rich list, there was an end to waiting yesterday for those desperate to find out what was talked about when the Sage of Omaha Warren Buffett met rapper Jay-Z earlier this week.

Turns out, the unlikely pair have more in common with their “business strategies” than anticipated – and had a ball comparing stock picking to making music.

“When you come to a conclusion you have to really not care what other people say. Just follow the facts and your reasoning,” Buffett said, adding that investors should think of stocks “not as something with a ticker symbol that wiggles around but [as] part of a business”.

Cue fervent nodding from Jay-Z. “I could just hear all the similarities and all the things in what he's saying, right?” the rapper said.

“Because if you don’t look at the tickers, you’re really just searching for the truth within all the numbers and all the chaos. And that’s the key to being a recording artist too. You’re telling your story or finding your truth…”


My, oh my, but purveyors of Lehman Brothers memorabilia haven’t half been busy of late, to coincide with the anniversary of the firm’s bankruptcy earlier this month.

Not only have we two well-trailed auctions of Lehman’s art collection in New York and London tomorrow and next week: Fashion blog Refinery29 has also dredged up a lady selling bags embossed with the bank’s logo.

These aren’t your bog-standard gym bags, rucksacks or embossed briefcases, mind – we’re talking evening clutch bags, fashioned out of a haul of racing green Lehman vinyl bank envelopes the designer picked up for next to nothing at an estate sale.

The clutch bags – featuring the bank’s logo imprinted on the lower right hand corner – are currently retailing at $38, showing that there really is no accounting for taste.


Fans of the pongy stuff will be aware that this weekend marks the start of national cheese week – a perfect excuse (if any were needed) to indulge.

On hand to help out City workers in need of a fix is Gerrie Knoetze, the owner of Farringdon favourite Vivat Bacchus, who tells me he’s put together the most daring cheese board in the world to mark the occasion.

The board includes a particularly smelly contender, of course – the Vieux Lille, which takes its nickname “Puant de Lille” from the French for “stinky”.

Then there’s the priciest cheese around – the “Brillat Truffe”, which is flavoured with rare truffles – and the runniest, the “Epoisse”.

In addition, there’s the oldest cheese Knoetze could find, a four-year matured Parmesan; the hottest, “Naga Chilli Cheese Bombs”, infused with one of the world’s hottest chillis; and also, bizarrely, the sweetest – a sticky toffee cheddar.
Go on, we dare you.


Kudos for commercial property group Lambert Smith Hampton (above) yesterday, taking the title for recruitment firm Ambition’s annual five-a-side footy tournament for property and professional services clients at the Powerleague centre near Bishopsgate.

Soldiering on despite monsoon-like downpours, the teams – also including Henderson, British Land, Cushman & Wakefield, law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner and the runner up, Arram Berlyn Gardner – clearly had their competitive hats on.

No less than four “sin-binnings” were doled out by the referees in the first couple of games, before the teams wised up to the strict rules of the field.


Merchant Securities’ resident jazz star John East, the deputy chief executive and chairman of corporate finance, is up to his musical tricks again, I hear.

East – a keen player of the Hammond organ – is back with his regular band on 27 October at the 606 Club in Chelsea, with the addition of new guitarist Carl Orr and a horn section.

For chums and interested parties who can’t get along to the gig, never fear – it’s being recorded to add to previous live numbers on a CD due for release later in the year.