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The Seven Wealthiest People in Orange County : DONALD LEROY BREN, 55, Newport Beach

October 13, 1987

Like 72% of Orange County's super-rich, Bren made his money in real estate. He currently owns 99% of the Irvine Co., which owns 68,000 acres of prime Orange County real estate, most of it undeveloped. As the county's largest landowner, Bren is worth $1.25 billion which makes him No. 30 in his fourth appearance on the Forbes list.

Bren is a former collegiate ski star, the son of producer Milton Bren and stepson of actress Claire Trevor. He began his career as a home builder in 1958. He was a co-founder--along with fellow-Forbes 400 members Richard O'Neill and Alice O'Neill Avery--of the Mission Viejo Co., which developed the 11,000-acre planned community of the same name.

Bren first bought into the Irvine Co. in 1977. In 1983, he secured control of the company with a legendary $525-million leveraged buy-out. He is Orange County's only billionaire, according to Forbes' estimates.

DAVID MICHAEL KOLL, 54, Newport Beach

Commercial real estate developer Koll came to Newport Beach in 1958 with little more to his name than a Stanford University degree in economics, a three-year stint as an Air Force jet pilot and, he once said, a burning desire to live in Newport Beach "even if it meant pumping gas."

Instead, he went to work in his cousin's home-building business, where he spent four years getting his contractor's license. In 1962, Koll struck out on his own. Twenty-five years have passed, and he now resides at No. 277 on the Forbes list, a newcomer with an estimated fortune of $300 million.


Hoiles, an heir to the Freedom Newspaper chain, placed 291st on the list with $300 million in assets.

He is the youngest and only surviving son of R.C. Hoiles, who bought the Orange County Register in the 1920s and turned it into the flagship of a chain that owns 29 newspapers and five television stations.

After several attempts to buy out his family members' shares of the $1-billion chain, Harry Hoiles filed suit against the family to dissolve the company. Three months ago, a judge ruled against him. Hoiles' sister, Mary Jane Hoiles Hardy, of Marysville in Northern California, follows him on the Forbes list, also with an estimated fortune of $300 million.

RICHARD JEROME (DICK) O'NEILL, 64 San Juan Capistrano

O'Neill is principal co-owner of Rancho Mission Viejo with his sister Alice O'Neill Avery of West Los Angeles. Forbes places the siblings at No. 317 and No. 318 on the list and figures their fortunes at $275 million each, down from the $375 million at which their bankrolls were valued last year.

Rancho Mission Viejo, which consists of 38,000 acres of land in southern Orange County, once included what now is the community of Mission Viejo. It was founded in 1882 by Nevada silver king James Flood, who purchased 230,000 acres and hired the O'Neills' grandfather as its first manager. To lure O'Neill from San Francisco to the huge ranch, in what was then considered the boondocks, Flood gave him a half interest.

JOHN DAVID LUSK, 79, Newport Beach

Lusk, a real estate developer and active philanthropist, squeaks in near the bottom of the list, making his first appearance on the Forbes 400. He entered the roll in 375th place with assets estimated at $225 million--the 1987 cutoff for the Forbes-anointed rich and famous.

Lusk is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Lusk Co., a major residential developer. He also is a founding trustee of Presbyterian Community Hospital in Whittier and a leading supporter of Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, an orphanage in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

HUGH BANCROFT III, 28, Newport Beach

With an estimated $225 million in assets and the No. 393 position on the list, media heir Bancroft is Orange County's youngest megamillionaire, as defined by Forbes.

Bancroft is a great-grandchild of Clarence Barron, who owned Dow Jones & Co. Dow Jones publishes the Wall Street Journal, Barron's and Ottaway newspapers. Bancroft owns Bancroft Motorsports in Costa Mesa and designs and builds antique car replicas. He also travels widely.

WILLIAM LYON, 64, Newport Beach

Another newcomer to the Forbes 400, residential developer Lyon--owner of the William Lyon Co.--reportedly is worth $225 million and is ranked No. 382. He was AirCal's hands-on chairman from 1982 to 1986, guiding the airline through the financial turbulence caused by five years of fare wars, a strike by air traffic controllers and soaring fuel prices.

On Sept. 2, Lyon agreed to buy all of Pacific Lighting Corp.'s land-development subsidiaries, including Irvine-based Presley Cos., for $325 million in cash.

A retired Air Force brigadier general, Lyon pilots his own jet and owns an extensive collection of antique and classic automobiles.

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