Having been feted as one of the world’s richest women in 2011, she saw her fortunes depleted to such an extent that she is no longer a dollar billionaire, meaning she has less than £640 million in the bank. The decline in the spending power of Britain’s rich emerged as the global number of billionaires rose to 1,226, and their combined wealth went up to a record $4.6 trillion (£2.9 trillion), despite the impact of the world economic crisis. Among them are 37 British billionaires, an increase of five since last year, headed by the Duke of Westminster, who is worth $11 billion (£7 billion).
Forbes, which has produced an annual list of billionaires for the past 25 years, said that Miss Rowling’s declining fortune was the result of her charitable giving, which had left a significant dent in her bank balance, along with the heavy taxation burden levied on high earners in Britain. Business leaders have warned for some time of the impact of the 50p top rate of tax on entrepreneurship and wealth creation.
Last year Miss Rowling was estimated by Forbes to be worth $1 billion, with the bulk of her money coming from her books and the Harry Potter film franchise. The magazine said: “New information about Rowlings’ estimated $160 million (£101 million) in charitable giving combined with Britain’s high tax rates bumped the Harry Potter scribe from our list this year.”