Thanks to a remarkable payday last year, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong vaulted to the top of the Business Journal? list of Wealthiest Angelenos this year.

Soon-Shiong pushed aside longtime No. 1 Kirk Kerkorian, who sustained a sickening $5.3 billion loss in wealth. Of course, during this tumultuous year, 41 of the 50 Wealthiest Angelenos also took big hits.

The Business Journal's annual special report includes rankings, profiles and an interview with a surprise billionaire who bought a mansion so immense he doesn? see parts of it for months at a time.

Though their pain may not inspire much sympathy, Los Angeles County's richest residents suffered through their worst year on record.

The 50 Wealthiest Angelenos collectively lost more than $32 billion as the deepening recession took a toll on virtually every major industry. Los Angeles now has just 29 billionaires, the lowest total in five years.

Forty-one people on last year? list lost at least $100 million; eight lost more than $1 billion. The tumult also upended the order of the Business Journal? rankings.

Maverick investor Kirk Kerkorian, who held the top position for three years, lost more money than anyone. The majority owner of casino operator MGM Mirage lost half his fortune as tourism in Las Vegas dropped dramatically. Still, with $5.3 billion, he only fell two spots.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, the new No. 1, former surgeon Patrick Soon-Shiong, derives his wealth from pharmaceuticals and biotech, two industries that performed relatively strongly. The developer of a nanotechnology-based cancer drug nearly doubled his net worth after selling his other business, generic-drug maker APP Pharmaceuticals, in July. The timely deal earned him $3 billion, pushing his total net worth to $6 billion.

Like Kerkorian, Sumner Redstone, the media mogul who has perennially ranked among the very richest Angelenos, lost more than $5 billion. Amid declining revenue throughout the entertainment industry, Redstone was forced to sell stock holdings in CBS and Viacom at low prices to settle debt covenants, dropping him from No. 2 last year all the way to 14.

David Geffen, Haim Saban and Stephen Bing each took hits due to their exposure to the entertainment industry.

One of the drivers of the economic crisis was the financial industry. Indeed, some of the steepest drops came as a result of exposure to American International Group, the financial services conglomerate that has been at the center of the storm in the economy.

Steven Udvar-Hazy, who sold his aircraft leasing company to AIG in 1990, owns millions of AIG shares, which have become nearly worthless. As a result, Udvar-Hazy fell from the ranks of billionaires, taking the No. 49 spot with a net worth of $520 million.

Father and son entrepreneurs Leslie and Louis Gonda, who teamed with Udvar-Hazy to start International Lease Finance Corp., did even worse because of their exposure to AIG. The Gondas, who held down the Nos. 47 and 35 spots, respectively, in last year? rankings, fell off the list.

Even the savviest investors were hit hard.

Charles Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which he has run with renowned investor Warren Buffett for the past three decades, saw his net worth drop to $1.6 billion; but he actually climbed three spots to No. 17 as others lost even more.

Distressed debt, which had been going strong before the economy collapsed, took its lumps, too. That knocked Howard Marks and Bruce Karsh, who jointly founded distressed debt investment firm Oaktree Capital Management, from the ranks of billionaires, though they remain on the list.

Franklin Otis Booth Jr., who had a net worth last year of $2.4 billion, fell off the list after the investor and philanthropist died in June at 84.

The changes left room for several newcomers to claim spots on the list, including Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who? had a string of blockbusters, and real estate entrepreneur Robert Maguire, who provided the Business Journal with details of his wealth.

Jeff Greene debuted on the list at No. 18 thanks to an enormously successful bet against the housing market. Greene bought credit default swaps that rose in value as subprime mortgage-backed securities defaulted, pushing his net worth to $1.6 billion.


Editor's Note: The Wealthiest Angelenos are ranked by net worth in descending order. In the case of ties, the members are ranked alphabetically. Percentage changes in net worth reflect estimates prior to rounding. Calculations are based on publically available data and information provided by list members or their representatives. Lead writer on the package was Richard Clough. The net worth estimates were researched and compiled by Richard Clough, Deborah Crowe, Alexa Hyland, Daniel Miller, David Nusbaum, Charles Proctor and Joel Russell.


THE LIST
Rank Name 2009* 2008* %Chge
1 Patrick Soon-Shiong $6,000 $3,700 +62%
2 Eli Broad 5,400 6,900 -22%
3 Kirk Kerkorian 5,300 10,600 -50%
4 David Murdock 3,700 4,500 -18%
5 Ron Burkle 3,650 3,500 +4%
6 David Geffen 3,600 4,800 -25%
7 Steven Spielberg 2,900 3,300 -12%
8 Haim Saban 2,800 4,200 -33%
9 A. Jerrold Perenchio 2,400 3,250 -26%
10 Tom Gores 2,250 2,500 -10%

Rank Name 2009* 2008* %Chge
11 Alan Casden $2,050 $2,250 -9%
12 John E. Anderson 2,000 2,800 -29%
13 Ed Roski Jr. 1,900 2,540 -25%
14 Sumner Redstone 1,800 7,000 -74%
15 William Barron Hilton 1,730 2,300 -25%
16 Alec Gores 1,650 1,650 0%
17 Charles Munger 1,600 2,200 -27%
18 Jeffrey Greene 1,580 na. na.
19 Alfred Mann 1,550 1,750 -11%
20 Rick Caruso 1,530 1,700 -10%

Rank Name 2009* 2008* %Chge
21 Stewart & Lynda Resnick $1,500 $1,600 -6%
22 Donald Sterling 1,450 2,000 -28%
23 Gary Michelson 1,440 1,800 -20%
24 Anthony Pritzker 1,400 2,530 -45%
25 David Whitmire Hearst Jr. 1,350 1,700 -21%
26 George Randolph Hearst Jr. 1,350 1,700 -21%
27 Frank & Jamie McCourt 1,290 1,210 +7%
28 Michael Milken 1,050 1,400 -25%
29 Robert Maguire 1,040 na. na.
30 George Joseph 950 1,200 -21%

Rank Name 2009* 2008* %Chge
31 John Tu $800 $2,600 -69%
32 Jeffrey Katzenberg 790 1,050 -25%
33 Neil Kadisha 780 925 -16%
35 Bruce Karsh 765 1,500 -49%
34 Howard Marks 765 1,500 -49%
36 Lowell Milken 750 1,020 -26%
37 Frederick "Ted" Field 745 995 -25%
38 Marc Nathanson 740 990 -25%
39 Robert Addison Day Jr. 730 1,000 -27%
40 Barbara Davis 725 1,450 -50%

Rank Name 2009* 2008* %Chge
41 Aubrey Chernick $716 $895 -20%
42 John Shea 634 975 -35%
44 Tom Werner 620 914 -32%
43 Michael Eisner 615 780 -21%
45 Jerry Bruckheimer 600 na. na.
46 Stephen Bing 590 1,010 -42%
47 Ming Hsieh 540 na. na.
48 Peter Lowy 530 880 -40%
49 Steven Udvar-Hazy 520 2,900 -82%
50 Mel Gibson 510 na. na.

* - In thousands
na. - Not on last year's list

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