NEW YORK -- Life is good for America's super wealthy.
Forbes on Monday released its annual list of the top 400 richest Americans. While most of the top names and rankings didn't change from a year ago, the majority of the elite club's members saw their fortunes grow over the past year, helped by strong stock and real estate markets.
"Basically, the mega rich are mega richer," said Forbes senior editor Kerry Dolan.
Dolan noted the list's minimum net income increased to a pre-financial crisis level of $1.3 billion, up from $1.1 billion in 2012, with 61 American billionaires not making the cut. "In some ways, it's harder to get on the list than it ever has been," she said.
Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates remains America's richest man, taking the top spot on the list for the 20th straight year, with a net worth of $72 billion, up from $66 billion a year ago.
Investor Warren Buffett, the head of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., posted another distant second-place finish with $58.5 billion, but increased his net worth from $46 billion. Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison stayed third with $41 billion and was the only member of the top 10 whose net worth was unchanged from a year ago.
Brothers Charles and David Koch, co-owners of Koch Industries Inc., stay tied for fourth with $36 billion each, up from $31 billion in 2012.
Wal-Mart heirs Christy Walton, Jim Walton, Alice Walton and S. Robson Walton took the next four spots, with holdings ranging from $33.3 billion to $35.4 billion, all increasing from year-ago levels. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of the eponymous financial information company, rounds out the top 10 with $31 billion, up $6 billion.
According to Forbes, 273 members of the list are self-made billionaires, while 71 inherited their wealth and another 56 inherited at least some of it but are still growing it.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to the list's top 20 after dropping out the year before. His net worth of $19 billion earned him the No. 20 spot.
Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz also made the list, at No. 85, with a net worth of $5.2 billion. At age 29 and just a few days younger than Zuckerberg, Moskovitz ranks as the youngest member of the list.
The oldest person on the list is 98-year-old David Rockefeller Sr. at No. 193 with a net worth of $2.8 billion.
A total of 20 new people joined the rankings.
-- The Associated Press