Richest dynasties back in the money after crunch

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The top of the list of US billionaires is still dominated by dynastic wealth, according to the latest annual survey by Forbes magazine, while 272 of the 400 richest Americans are self-made.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, tops the list once again with a fortune of $54bn, but six of the Top 10 are heirs to company founders from the past.

This distribution of wealth is being highlighted in a campaign by Mr Gates and his friend Warren Buffett, who is No 2 on the list, to urge billionaires to give at least half of their fortunes to charity before they die, instead of handing them to their children.

And Mr Buffett even tells the latest issue of Forbes that he uses their annual Forbes 400 list as a recruiting tool for his Giving Pledge, to which 40 members of the elite billionaires' club have signed up.

"The way I got the message out was to look down that 400 list and start making phone calls," Mr Buffett said. "Bill and Melinda [Gates] did the same thing. So keep publishing the list so I can milk it."

The rebound by the economy and by financial markets has helped to swell the fortunes of the richest 400 Americans, among whom the total wealth has risen to $1.37 trillion, up 8 per cent in a year. In 2009, the price of admission to the list fell below $1bn for the first time since 2006, but it rose back into 10 figures this year.

New entrants include two with ties to Facebook, co-founder Eduardo Saverin, who is worth $1.15bn, and Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard University room-mate, Dustin Moskovitz. Mr Moskovitz left Facebook in 2008 but still has a stake in the social networking giant that is worth $1.4bn on the private market where the company's shares trade. At 26, eight days younger than Mr Zuckerberg, Mr Moskovitz is now the youngest billionaire on the list.

Mr Zuckerberg, meanwhile, enjoyed the biggest percentage increase in his fortune of anyone on the list, more than tripling to $6.9bn. Now No 35 on the list, he has leapfrogged the established media and technology moguls Rupert Murdoch and Steve Jobs, who are worth $6.2bn and $6.1bn respectively.

Some of the biggest losers in the past 12 months have been clobbered by declining share prices in their companies. Stephen Schwarzman, founder of the private equity group Blackstone, lost $600m from a net worth of $4.7bn a year ago. The mobile phone entrepreneur Craig McCaw, founder of Clearwire, dropped off the list, despite having been worth $1.65bn last year.

The heirs to the retail magnate Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, and of Fred Koch, founder of the industrial conglomerate Koch Industries, dominate the top of the list once again this year. David Koch, jointly at No 5 with his brother Charles, joked about his wealth on giving a gift to his former university in 2003: "One day, my father gave me an apple. I soon sold it for five dollars and bought two apples and sold them for ten. Then I bought four apples and sold them for twenty. Well, this went on day after day, year after year, until my father died and left me $300m."

Forbes magazine asked the 400 billionaires for their favourite pastimes, and the top five were: education (73), art (64), sports (56), science (31) and the Giving Pledge (28).

Forbes Rich List: Top 25

1 Bill Gates, 54, Microsoft, $54bn

2 Warren Buffett, 80, Berkshire Hathaway, $45bn

3 Larry Ellison, 66, Oracle, $27bn

4 Christy Walton, 55, Walmart, $24bn

5= Charles Koch, 74, KS manufacturing, energy, $21.5bn

5= David Koch, 70, manufacturing, energy, $21.5bn

7 Jim Walton, 62, Walmart, $20.1bn

8 Alice Walton, 61, Walmart, $20bn

9 S. Robson Walton, 66, Walmart, $19.7bn

10 Michael Bloomberg, 68, Bloomberg, $18bn

11= Larry Page, 37, Google, $15bn

11= Sergey Brin, 37, Google, $15bn

13 Sheldon Adelson, 77, casinos, hotels, $14.7bn

14 George Soros, 80, hedge funds, $14.2bn

15 Michael Dell, 45, Dell, $14bn

16 Steve Ballmer, 54, Microsoft, $13.1bn

17 Paul Allen, 57, Microsoft, investments, $12.7bn

18 Jeff Bezos, 46, Amazon, $12.6bn

19 Anne Cox Chambers, 90, GA Cox Enterprises, $12.5bn

20 John Paulson, 54, hedge funds, $12.4bn

21 Donald Bren, 78, real estate, $12bn

22 Abigail Johnson, 48, Fidelity, $11.3bn

23 Phil Knight, 72, Nike, $11.1bn

24= Carl Icahn, 74, leveraged buyouts, $11bn

24= Ron Perelman, 67, leveraged buyouts, $11bn

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
booksCatton said New Zealand was run by profit-obsessed politicians
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee