We provide the first estimate of the level and distribution of global household wealth. The level of assets and debts for 39 countries are measured using household balance sheet and survey data centred on the year 2000. Average wealth holdings are imputed to countries lacking direct evidence. Microdata on household wealth distribution are assembled for 20 countries. Wealth inequality is imputed to other countries from the observed relation between wealth and income distribution in these countries. We find that the top 10 per cent owned 85 per cent of world wealth, and the Gini coefficient was 0.893, greater than that for the global distribution of income. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.