20) Louis Gonda (up arrow)
Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Aircraft leasing
Net Worth: $900 million
Last Year's Rank: 20
Background: Born in Venezuela. Parents fled Hungary during World War II. Graduated from Beverly Hills High School and attended USC.
Money Track: Made millions in aircraft leasing. Founded Century City-based International Lease Finance Corp. in 1973 with father Leslie and Steven Ferencz Udvar-Hazy (they each pitched in $50,000). The firm, acquired by American International Group Inc. nine years ago, is the largest lessor of commercial jets in the world.
Buzz: No longer a full-time employee of ILF (but a member of the board), Gonda has moved into other areas, including commercial real estate and movie producing. Credits include "Men With Guns." Quietly acquired several "creative space" buildings in Santa Monica last year (after his investment firm Lexington Commercial Holdings Inc. sold the two-tower Figueroa Plaza downtown for $77 million). Spearheading Beverly Lane retail-office-cinema project in Beverly Hills' Golden Triangle (which is working its way through city approvals). Shuns business suits for jeans and loafers. Personable and down to earth, but very private. Was major donor to Gray Davis' campaign for governor last year and hosted him at a dinner party. Donated 50 trees to city of Beverly Hills last year to commemorate his parents' wedding anniversary. Supports educational, cultural and Beverly Hills organizations, including American Place Theatre in New York.
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