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California and the West

Forbes List of Top 400 Now All Billionaires

September 22, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — These days, it takes a billion, at least.

For the first time, Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans consists exclusively of people worth $1 billion or more. As a group, the people who made the rankings released Thursday are worth a record $1.25 trillion, compared with $1.13 trillion last year.

In the billionaire-athon, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson pole-vaulted to No. 3 from No. 15 in last year's ranking, finishing behind the mainstays at Nos. 1 and 2: Microsoft Corp.'s Bill Gates and Warren E. Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Adelson is estimated to have $20.5 billion, Buffett $46 billion and Gates $53 billion. Gates has held the No. 1 spot for the last 13 years, and Buffett has been No. 2 every year since 1994 except 2000, when Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp. held that spot.

Adelson's expanding net worth is related in no small part to his decision to open a casino two years ago on the island of Macao, an emerging gambling haven off the southeastern coast of China. Adelson personally and through family trusts controls 60% of the company that owns the establishment, Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Forbes estimates Adelson earned about $1 million an hour over the last two years. In the second quarter alone, Sands' Macao property saw net revenue jump to $310.4 million from $205.1 million a year earlier. To tap the growing demand from gamblers in Asia, Sands plans a second property on Macao and a casino in Singapore.

The two Google Inc. founders were also big earners. Sergey Brin and Larry Page gained about $13 million a day over the last two years, according to Forbes. That puts them in 12th and 13th places, up from a tie for 16th last year.

Page and Brin also share the distinction of being, at 33 years old, the two youngest people on the list and two of only eight who are younger than 40.

The list was led by technologists, such as Gates, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Dell Inc.'s Michael Dell and Ellison, and was rounded out by five members of the Walton clan, whose fortunes were amassed from the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Software magnate Ellison, with $19.5 billion, moved to fourth place from fifth, and Allen, last year's No. 3, was fifth this year with $16 billion. Dell, with a net worth of $15.5 billion, fell to a tie at ninth place from fourth in last year's list.

Adelson's ascension knocks Helen Walton, the wife of Wal-Mart's late founder, Sam Walton, into 11th place with a net worth of $15.3 billion. Her children, Jim, S. Robson and Alice, along with Christy Walton, the widow of her son John, ranked in the bottom half of the top 10 this year.

Each was worth $15.5 billion to $15.7 billion, the upper-crust magazine reported.

Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., fell off the list, having lost $395 million over the last year.

The state with the largest number of people on the list is California, home to 90 of the 400.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The rich get richer

Top five

1. Bill Gates; age: 50; net worth: $53 billion; home: Medina, Wash.; source of wealth: Microsoft

2. Warren Buffett; 76; $46 billion; Omaha; Berkshire Hathaway

3. Sheldon Adelson; 73; $20.5 billion; Las Vegas; casinos, hotels

4. Larry Ellison; 62; $19.5 billion; Redwood City, Calif.; Oracle

5. Paul Allen; 53; $16 billion; Seattle; Microsoft, investments

Others in California

12. Sergey Brin; 33; $14.1 billion; Palo Alto; Google

13. Larry Page; 33; $14 billion; San Francisco; Google

26. Kirk Kerkorian; 89; $9 billion; Los Angeles; investments, casinos

27. Donald Bren; 74; $8.5 billion; Newport Beach; real estate

35. Sumner Redstone; 83; $7.5 billion; Beverly Hills; Viacom

42. Eli Broad; 73; $5.8 billion; Los Angeles; investments

45. Eric Schmidt; 51; $5.2 billion; Atherton; Google

49. Steve Jobs; 51; $4.9 billion; Palo Alto; Apple Computer, Pixar

50. David Geffen; 63; $4.6 billion; Malibu; DreamWorks

50. Charles Schwab; 69; $4.6 billion; Atherton; discount stockbrokerage

52. Charles Johnson; 73; $4.5 billion; San Mateo; Franklin Resources

59. David Murdock; 83; $4.2 billion; Los Angeles; investments

61. B. Wayne Hughes; 73; $4.1 billion; Malibu; Public Storage

68. Rupert Johnson Jr.; 65; $3.7 billion; San Mateo; Franklin Resources

70. George Lucas; 62; $3.6 billion; Marin County; "Star Wars"

Source: Forbes

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