According to Bloomberg, Rich had a stroke on Wednesday and died in hospital near his house in Lucerne.
Rich founded what is now Glencore Xstrata, but is also famous for being pardoned by former US president Bill Clinton of all charges brought against him.
Rich was born in 1934 in Belgium before his Jewish family, fearing persecution, fled to the US in 1941.
He joined trading house Philipp Brothers in 1954 and worked his way up from the mail room to being groomed for the role of president.
He left in 1974 and set up Marc Rich + Co in Switzerland, which was one of the world's leading trading houses by the early 1980s.
In 1983, Rich was indicted in the US on charges of tax evasion, false statements, racketeering and illegal trading with Iran, but he was never tried or convicted.
In January 2001, Rich was pardoned by president Clinton of all charges, but only after Rich spent two decades trying to evade authorities while continuing to grow his company.
In 1993, Rich sold his interest in the $US30 billion per year commodity trading part of the Marc Rich Group to the senior managers of the company, which was renamed Glencore.
One of the managers, current Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg, told Bloomberg via email that he was saddened to hear of Rich's death.
"He was a friend and one of the great pioneers of the commodities trading industry, founding the company that became Glencore," he said.
Following the creation of Glencore, Rich set up a smaller commodities business, which was sold to the management in 2003
According to his website, Rich's foundations have donated $150 million to charity over the past 20 years.