THE MONEY: Majority owner of discount hardware retailer Harbor Freight Tools, co-founded by parents in 1968. Bought his parents out in 1999 (more on that below). Company had revenue of more than $2 billion last year and has 500 stores nationwide. Company’s value estimated at nearly $2 billion, based on comparisons with publicly traded competitors. Since taking control of company, has repeatedly taken out huge loans to pay dividends to himself, presumably adding to his pile.
BUZZ: Amazing that Smidt has stayed off this list for so long. Big spender around town, known for major art collection and buying pricey mansions. Bought and renovated the Knoll, massive estate once owned by late billionaire Marvin Davis, and had separate, almost equally posh pad in exclusive Beverly Park. On board of Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art and rumored to own Andy Warhol’s iconic painting “Eight Elvises.” Public got its first glimpse into Smidt and privately held Harbor Freight’s finances in 2010, when he was sued by his parents. Said son wrested control from them improperly, owed them millions and had looted the company to pay for his lavish lifestyle. Since 2008, Harbor Freight has taken out larger and larger loans, each one used to pay off old debt and give Smidt dividend. Company last year borrowed $1 billion, likely paying dividend of more than $200 million.
NET WORTH: $1.17 billion
LAST YEAR: Not on list
RESIDENCE: Beverly Hills
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Hardware retailing
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