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Elon Musk loses $15B in a day after Bitcoin warning

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A COLLECTION of Bitcoin (virtual currency) tokens are displayed in this picture illustration, in Paris, France, Dec. 8, 2017. — REUTERS

ELON Musk is no longer the world’s richest person after Tesla, Inc. shares slid 8.6% on Monday, wiping $15.2 billion from his net worth.

Tesla’s biggest decline since September was fueled in part by Mr. Musk’s comments over the weekend that the prices of Bitcoin and smaller rival Ethereum “do seem high.” His message — via his favored medium of Twitter — came two weeks after Tesla announced it added $1.5 billion in Bitcoin to its balance sheet.

Mr. Musk also tweeted earlier Monday that the company’s Model Y Standard Range SUV would still be available “off the menu,” backing up reports from electric vehicle news site Electrek that the model had been removed from its online configurator.

Mr. Musk drops to second on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index of the world’s 500 richest people with a net worth of $183.4 billion — down from a peak of $210 billion in January. Amazon.com, Inc. founder Jeff Bezos reclaimed the top spot even as his fortune fell by $3.7 billion to $186.3 billion Monday.

The two billionaires have been swapping places since January as the value of Tesla fluctuated. The stock surged as much as 25% to start 2021 before wiping off almost all of this year’s gain. Mr. Musk briefly overtook Mr. Bezos after his rocket company SpaceX raised $850 million earlier this month, valuing the company at $74 billion, a 60% jump from August.

Mr. Bezos occupied the top spot on the ranking for three straight years prior to January, when Mr. Musk eclipsed the e-commerce titan thanks to a 794% rally in Tesla shares.

The market selloff on Monday hit many of the world’s ultra-rich. Zhong Shanshan, Asia’s wealthiest person, was the second-biggest decliner on the Bloomberg index, dropping by $5.1 billion as his bottled-water company fell 4.5%. Colin Huang of Pinduoduo, Inc., Reliance Industries Ltd.’s Mukesh Ambani and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Pony Ma all lost more than $2.5 billion each. — Bloomberg

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