2) Marvin Davis (up arrow)
Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Oil, real estate, entertainment
Net Worth: $4.7 billion
Last Year’s Rank: 2
Background: New York native turned Rocky Mountain oil baron turned Los Angeles billionaire, Davis was raised on modest means on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan. Made his first fortune drilling oil wells. Ventured to Hollywood in the ’80s, buying Twentieth Century Fox. Has been buying and selling trophy properties ever since. Has moved with limited success into casinos. A leading contributor to charitable causes (especially childhood diabetes), Davis’ Carousel of Hope Ball is one of the high points of L.A.’s social calendar.
Money Track: Once known as “Mr. Wildcatter,” Davis made his fortune through prospecting for oil. Davis Petroleum Corp. has drilled more than 10,000 oil wells. Diversified into entertainment and real estate just as oil prices were starting to decline in early ’80s. Bought Twentieth Century Fox, then sold most of it to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for a healthy profit. Bought Fox Plaza in 1997 for $284 million $36 million less than the amount he sold it for in 1988.
Buzz: Still a major player in Hollywood social scene. Frequent diner at Spago, where he has special table at center of room. Great storyteller, especially in describing business conquests. Hosted party in honor of Roberto Benigni before the Italian actor won an Oscar for best actor. Was recently spotted at a White House banquet given in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. Also a big-time fund raiser for President Clinton. Son John is movie producer; another son Gregg recently sold his six-bedroom house in Holmby Hills and moved to Houston to manage Davis Petroleum.