Warsaw, Poland – Seven Poles count among the world’s 2.153 billionaires, according to the 2019 ranking of the world’s richest people, released by Forbes.
1. Michal Solowow
Michal Solowow, 56 years old, has a reported net worth of 3.2 billion dollars. The richest man in Poland, he’s the 691st wealthiest man in the world. He started his career with the construction company Mitex in the late 1980’s, which he sold to French investor Eiffage in the early 2000’s and used the proceeds to invest in the Polish stock market, making a fortune over the years and building an immense business empire. Last year, he took private his main listed asset, chemical group Synthos. An enthusiastic race car driver, Michal Solowow was previously a championship European rally racer, which he gave up in 2014 after his car overturned during a race.
2. Zygmunt Solorz-Zak
With an estimated wealth of 2.8 billion dollars, Zygmunt Solorz-Zak is the second richest man in Poland and 838th worldwide. Solorz-Zak, 62, has built an extensive business empire which includes energy, insurance, telecoms, banking and financial companies, and is slowly handing over the reins to his sons. Founder of Polsat, one of the first national commercial broadcasters in Eastern Europe in the early 1990’s, he made his fortune importing used cars from Germany into Poland. He’s also the owner of the Śląsk Wrocław football club.
3. Dominika Kulczyk
Dominika Kulczyk, the 1281st richest person on the planet, inherited, along with her brother Sebastian (see below), a fortune from their father, Jan, who died in 2015. She’s the only woman to make Forbes list of the world’s billionaires in Central Europe. The wealth of Dominika Kulczyk, 41 years old, rose after the 2016 sale of the family’s stake in SAB Miller. She also owns a share in renewable energy company Polenergia and is the president of the Kulczyk Foundation, created in 2013 to fight poverty.
4. Sebastian Kulczyk
Brother of Dominika, Sebastian Kulczyk, 38 years old, has a net worth of 1.7 billion dollars, making him the 1.349th richest man in the world. Like his sister, his fortune hails from their father inheritance. After divvying up the assets, he took control of several major companies, including in the chemical and mining sector. He also founded and runs Manta Ray, a VC tech fund.
5. Jerzy Starak
Jerzy Starak, Poland’s fifth richest man and the world’s 1.511th wealthiest, has a net worth of 1.5 billion dollars. Starak, 71, went into business in the 1970’s with chemical company Comindex. Today one of Poland’s most diversified investors, he specializes in pharmaceuticals and chairs the supervisory board of one of Poland’s largest drug manufacturers, Polpharma. The Warsaw-based Starak Foundation, which he co-manages with his wife, collects Polish art from the 20th century.
6. Tomasz Biernacki
The world’s 1.717th richest man, Tomasz Biernacki, known for being one of the most secretive billionaires in Poland, has a total wealth of 1.3 billion dollars, according to Forbes. At 46 years old, he’s the founder and chairman of the largest grocery chain in Poland, Dino Polska, which now comprises nearly 1.000 stores all across the country.
7. Dariusz Milek
Last but not least, Poland’s “King of Shoes”: Dariusz Milek, 51, is the founder of CCC, the second biggest footwear retailer in Europe, comprising over 1.100 shops in 18 different countries. With a net worth of 1 billion dollars, he ranks as the 2.057th richest man on the planet. Milek was also a member of Poland’s national youth cycling team.
To get an extensive overview of the richest people in Central and Eastern Europe, you can also read the stories of the two wealthiest Hungarians or check out the top 10 richest Czech and Slovak billionaires.