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Bezos sells $2 billion of Amazon shares

This week marked a significant move by Jeff Bezos, as he divested 12 million shares of Inc., his first sale of the company’s stock since 2021. The transactions, conducted over Wednesday and Thursday, generated proceeds exceeding $2 billion, as detailed in a regulatory filing.

Despite relinquishing his role as CEO of Amazon two years prior, Bezos maintains a significant presence within the company as its chairman and foremost individual shareholder, holding 9.4% of its equity. This sale slightly reduced his holdings, amounting to about 1% of his total 976 million shares in the multifaceted e-commerce and cloud computing giant. The timing of the sale coincided with Amazon’s stock reaching a two-year peak, surpassing its value at the point of Bezos’s last stock sale.

On February 2nd, Amazon announced Bezos’s intention to offload up to 50 million shares within the upcoming year, capitalizing on a robust uptick in the company’s stock value. This strategic sale positions him on the cusp of reclaiming the world’s wealthiest individual title. As the Bloomberg Billionaires Index reported, Bezos’s net worth has surged by $22.6 billion this year, reaching $199.5 billion as of this Friday.

According to Forbes, since Amazon’s public debut in 1997, Bezos has liquidated $32 billion of its stock and donated approximately $4.7 billion, reducing his ownership from 42% to the current 9.4%. With a substantial portion, approximately $20 billion, sold in 2020 and 2021. MacKenzie Scott, Bezos’s ex-wife who obtained a quarter of his Amazon stake in their 2019 divorce settlement, has significantly diminished her holdings, selling 61 million shares valued at $10 billion in 2023.

His transactions have not solely been for personal gain; notably, he donated Amazon shares valued at around $230 million to various charitable organizations in November.

The reasons behind Bezos’s recent stock sale remain undisclosed, as representatives have yet to comment on whether the move is linked to his relocation to tax-advantaged Florida. Historically, Bezos has channeled substantial funds from Amazon stock sales into his aerospace venture, Blue Origin, with investments nearing $20 billion by mid-2023.

Bezos has intensified his philanthropic efforts and real estate acquisitions in recent years. In 2023 alone, he donated roughly $500 million, primarily to climate change initiatives through the Bezos Earth Fund and to support families facing homelessness. His real estate portfolio has also grown, with notable acquisitions including two properties in Indian Creek, a prestigious Miami-Dade County community, for $170 million last fall, a $78 million home in Maui in 2021, and the Warner Estate in Beverly Hills for $165 million, marking California’s largest private residential transaction at the time.