Robert Einar Petersen
Net Worth: $600 million
Source of Wealth: Publishing
Residence: Beverly Hills
Robert Petersen parlayed a young man's love of a fast car into half a billion dollars. Not bad for someone who started his publishing career with less than $500 in seed money and who hawked magazines at racing events.
Petersen's premier title, Hot Rod, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Since its start in 1948, the Petersen empire has grown to more than 100 titles including Mountain Biker, Motor Trend and Guns & Ammo. Most Petersen magazines target testosterone-fueled audiences and reflect Petersen's hobbies.
Petersen essentially cashed out in October 1996, selling his privately held publishing empire for a price estimated at between $400 million and $450 million. He still retains a 10 percent stake in the company and sits on the Petersen Publishing board, holding the title of chairman emeritus.
Under the new ownership group, which includes D. Claeys Bahrenburg, former president of Hearst Corp.'s magazine division, Petersen Publishing's breadth of titles has grown substantially.
In the last year, the new management has acquired over a dozen publications, including Stereophile magazine, the sports magazine Slam, and InLine Publications, which produces several titles dedicated to inline skating. The new management also decided to fold Sassy, aimed at teen-aged girls, into its similar holding, 'Teen.
While Petersen is no longer involved in day-to-day magazine operations, he is said to stay busy running Petersen Aviation, his jet-chartering operation as well as operating his real estate holding company, Petersen Properties, and overseeing the Petersen Automotive Museum. The Miracle Mile museum opened in 1994, the same year he started Petersen Aviation.
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