The much maligned former owner of NUFC has seen his fortune increase by £277m in the last year, helped in part by the sale of the club for £305 to a Saudi Arabia backed consortium in October.
Ashley, who owns 58.44 per cent of Frasers Group, is now ranked as the 59th wealthiest person in the UK.
He overtakes 102-year-old Tony Murray, chairman of fire protection business London Security plc, who is ranked second with a net-worth of £2.53 billion.
John Reece, who grew up in Sunderland, is ranked number five in the regional list. The 65-year-old director of the chemicals and energy giant Ineos has seen his fortune drop £93m to £2.107 billion.
The the Rich List reveals the wealth of the 250 richest people and families in the UK. The 34th edition shows there are now a record-breaking 177 billionaires in the UK, up six from 2021.
The combined wealth of the UK billionaires is £653.122 billion, up £55.853 billion, or 9.4 per cent, on the total wealth of the billionaires in last year’s Rich List.