Believe it or not, most of the gold in the world is privately owned. In fact, according to The World Gold Council, only 191,000 metric tons are held by governments and central banks. That means that private citizens own approximately 30 times as much gold as all the governments in the world combined! So who are these private citizens? Who owns the most gold?
One of the intriguing things about gold is that we need to find out who owns how much. Unlike stocks and bonds, there is no central registry where ownership is recorded. And unlike cash, gold can be easily hidden away and doesn’t need to be spent. So it’s no surprise that there is much speculation about who might own large quantities of gold.
The Top Private Gold Owners
The list of the top private gold owners has been released, with some surprises. The list includes individuals, families, and even some institutions. The top private gold owner is the Rothschild family, followed by the Vatican.
The Rothschild Family
The Rothschild family is a European family of German Jewish origin that has amassed wealth and influence over the past two centuries. The name Rothschild is derived from the German zum rotten Schild (with the old spelling “th”), meaning “Ascension to the Red Shield” or “Coat of Arms.”
The first family member known to use the name Rothschild was Isaac de Rothschild, born in 1777. Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812), full name Mayer Amschel Bauer, changed his name to Rothschild after an 18th-century German goldsmith and financier, Amschel Moses Bauer, who had a red sign over his shop door in Frankfurt am Main.
Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836) helped finance England’s war effort against Napoleon. In 1815 he established N M Rothschild & Sons in London. Carl Mayer von Rothschild (1788–1855) opened M.A. von Rothschild und Söhne in Frankfurt in 1809. James Mayer de Rothschild (1792–1868) set up de Rothschild Frères in Paris in 1817. David René de Rothschild (1942-) is Chairman and a controlling shareholder of France’s Edmond de Rothschild Group. Nathaniel Charles Jacob Rothschild, 4C (1936-), known as “Jake,” is a British banker and a member of the prominent ancient British Jewish banking dynasty, the House of Rothschild. Sir Evelyn Robert de Rothschild (1931-) is a British financier and a member of the prominent ancient British Jewish banking dynasty, the House of Rothschild. Lynn Forrester de Rothchild(1953-) was an American businesswoman, socialite, lawyer, and political fundraiser. Sir Philip Nigel Ross Grey-Egerton, 8C Bt(1965-), better known as Nigal Egerton, English financier & younger son of Robin Grey-Egerton & James Ross Goenka… David Mayer de Rothschild(1978-), English adventurer, eco-activist banker & environmentalist
The Vatican is said to be the largest private gold owner in the world. The Catholic church is estimated to have $15 billion to $20 billion in gold assets stored in underground vaults beneath the Vatican. The exact size of the Vatican’s gold holdings has never been revealed, and no one likely knows how much gold the Catholic Church has.
The Central Banks
The world’s central banks are the largest holders of gold, with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in the first place. As of September 2018, the Fed’s gold reserves stood at 8,133.5 metric tons, valued at $363.6 billion. That’s more than five times the amount of gold held by the second-largest holder, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had 2,814 metric tons valued at $132 billion. The IMF is an organization of 189 countries that work together to promote global economic growth and financial stability.
Other major central banks with significant gold holdings include the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB). The ECB has 2,451 metric tons of gold valued at $109 billion, while the SNB has 1,040 metric tons valued at $44 billion.
Why Do They Own So Much Gold?
The Gold Elite is a small group of people who control most of the world’s gold. They own over 50% of the world’s gold supply. Why do they own so much gold? Some say it’s because they are preparing for an economic collapse. Others say it’s because they want to control the world’s economy. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that they have a lot of gold.
Gold as a Store of Value
Gold has been used as a store of value for thousands of years. It is durable, portable, and has a relatively low level of volatility compared to other commodities. Gold is also scarce, but not too scarce – there are enough gold mines worldwide to bring new supplies online to meet growing demand without too much difficulty. For all these reasons, gold is an attractive option for investors looking for a safe place to store their wealth.
Two main ways to invest in gold are owning physical gold or investing in gold-related securities. Physical gold can be bullion (bars or nuggets of pure gold) or coins. Gold bullion is typically purchased by investors interested in holding their investment for the long term or who believe that the price of gold will rise sharply in the future. They want to benefit from that price increase. Gold coins are purchased more for their collectible value than for their intrinsic worth, although some investors do believe that gold coins will hold their value better than other forms of physical gold (such as jewelry) in the event of a sharp drop in the price of gold.
Gold-related securities take two forms: shares of companies engaged in mining and processing gold and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that track the price of gold. Investing in mining companies is risky – these companies are vulnerable to gold price changes and face operational risks such as labor disputes or bad weather that can impact their bottom line. ETFs offer a more diversified way to invest in gold, as they tend to track a basket of different gold-related investments rather than just holding physical bars or coins.
Gold as a Hedge Against Inflation
Gold is often seen as a hedge against inflation, one of the main reasons central banks hold it in their reserves. When prices rise, the value of paper money falls, and people tend to turn to gold as a store of value. This demand drives up the price of gold, offsetting some of the effects of inflation.
Gold as a Currency
Gold has been used as a currency for thousands of years. The first gold coins were minted in Lydia, a country in Asia Minor, in 600 BCE. Gold was used as currency because it was rare, durable, and easy to transport. It was also easy to divide into small units or coins.
In the past hundred years, gold has been replaced by paper currency as the primary form of currency in most countries. Paper currency is easier to transport and can be divided into smaller units more easily than gold. However, some countries still use gold as a form of currency.
Gold is also seen as a good investment. The value of gold goes up when the economy is doing poorly and goes down when the economy is doing well. This makes it a good way to preserve wealth during economic downturns.
The statistics show that central banks and other official institutions hold the lion’s share of gold reserves, with around two-thirds of the world’s gold being held this way. However, a significant proportion of this gold is stored on behalf of other central banks, meaning that the relative importance of central bank holdings may be overestimated.
In terms of private ownership, it is estimated that around 190,000 tonnes of gold are held in private hands, with the majority being held in jewelry. The USA has the largest privately held gold, followed by India and China.