NET WORTH: $1.86 billion, up 40 percent
LAST YEAR: $1.33 billion
RESIDENCE: Beverly Hills
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Hardware retailing
THE MONEY: Majority owner of discount hardware retailer Harbor Freight Tools, co-founded by parents in 1968. Serves as chairman and chief executive. Purchased parents’ stake in 1999. Company has more than 500 stores. Benefitted from strong growth in hardware industry. Private company valued well over $2 billion, based on comparisons with publicly traded competitors.
THE BUZZ: Known as big spender, namely on art collection and pricey mansions. Sold flashy Beverly Park estate last year for nearly $40 million. Bought and renovated the Knoll, massive estate formerly owned by late billionaire Marvin Davis. Registered Democrat, donated $100,000 to Senate Majority PAC month before last election. On board of Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art. 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 owed them millions, bilked company to fund lavish lifestyle. Harbor Freight has taken out larger and larger loans, used to pay off old debt and give Smidt dividend. Company borrowed $1 billion in 2013, likely paying dividend of more than $200 million.
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