Richard D. Colburn
Net Worth: $750 million
Source of Wealth: Construction equipment rentals
Residence: Beverly Hills
Richard D. Colburn’s wealth may come from buying into distressed companies and turning them around, but his passion has always been music.
He started violin lessons at the age of 7, but then switched to the viola. As a teenager, he played in the San Diego Symphony’s inaugural performance in 1927, but when his music teacher told him he would not make the top ranks, Colburn decided music would be his hobby, not his occupation.
Colburn dropped out of Antioch College in Ohio after three years. Later, an investment banking firm where he worked put up some money for him to purchase small electrical utilities and foundries. He soon started his own business as a construction equipment distributor.
In 1975, Colburn bought a 100 percent stake in Modesto-based Leasing Enterprises Inc., a then-struggling construction equipment leasing firm. He renamed it U.S. Rentals, and today it’s the second-largest construction equipment leasing firm in the nation.
In February 1997, Colburn raised $100 million through an IPO, although he still retained a 67.5 percent share. U.S. Rentals stock recently climbed to $33, making Colburn’s stake worth $667 million.
Colburn never gave up his love of music. He has played with several local orchestras, amassed a collection of rare Stradivarius violins, and co-founded the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
In the late 1970s, he began financing what was then called the Community School of Performing Arts, a division of the USC School of Music. By 1986, the school was renamed in his honor. More recently, he put up $25 million to move the school to a campus directly across from the Music Center and the proposed Disney Concert Hall.
Colburn has been married nine times to eight wives and has six children. A seventh child with his newest wife, Jacqueline, is due in September.