Source of Wealth: Homebuilding, financial services
Net Worth: $5.5 billion
Last Year: $4.3 billion
Background: Became a millionaire before the age of 30 by co-founding Kaufman & Broad Home Corp., one of the nation’s largest residential developers. Parlayed that success into the founding of financial services giant SunAmerica Inc. Big mover and shaker in national Democratic Party circles (President Clinton has been a house guest) and in local civic affairs. Very close with L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, with whom he frequently vacations. But in the upcoming race to replace Riordan as mayor, Broad has chosen not to endorse Riordan’s pick but rather the former Speaker of the Assembly, Antonio Villaraigosa.
Money Track: After making millions by selling low-cost homes to baby boomers through Kaufman & Broad, Broad went on to sell financial retirement plans to that same group through SunAmerica Inc. and he cleaned up thanks to the success of SunAmerica stock. In 1998, he agreed to sell SunAmerica to American Insurance Group Inc. The $1.6 billion in stock that Broad then owned in SunAmerica was converted to AIG stock, and Broad’s AIG holdings have since appreciated to $3.1 billion. Meanwhile, Broad’s venture capital investments in Internet companies have brought in another $200 million over the past year. And his sizeable art collection, which includes works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, has increased $50 million in value over the past year.
Buzz: Broad’s name is everywhere in L.A. these days but his traditional winning record in civic affairs has been mixed of late. After using his influence to bring this summer’s Democratic National Convention to L.A., he became the dominating force on the private-sector host committee charged with raising $35 million in funds to help stage the event. The committee, however, stumbled during the winter, and Mayor Riordan was called in to get the effort back on track. Broad was also the primary financial backer behind last year’s failed bid to bring professional football back to a renovated Coliseum. On the plus side, Broad was successful in backing Riordan’s efforts to remake the L.A. school board and revamp the city charter. Broad says his next big civic project will be his education foundation, which aims to improve management, governance and labor relations in large urban school districts. “I am convinced the education crisis is the biggest problem confronting our nation,” he says.
Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Oil, real estate, entertainment, gaming
Net Worth: $4.9 billion
Last Year: $4.7 billion
Background: Took Horace Greeley’s advice and went west from New York to Denver to Los Angeles to become a billionaire. Born on the shabby Lower Eastside of Manhattan, he made first million drilling oil wells, but linked himself to the Hollywood charity scene by flying stars into Denver for a ball devoted to raising money for children’s diabetes. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s, when he bought 20th Century Fox. He has unloaded the studio, but continues to wheel and deal in real estate, buying and selling properties like the Beverly Hills Hotel and Fox Plaza in Century City. One example of the shrewdness of Davis’ deal making was his sale of Fox to Rupert Murdoch. He sold the studio, but kept two other valuable Fox assets: Pebble Beach Co., which he later sold to Japanese investors for $80 million, and the Aspen ski resort, which he also sold off. Aside from the Oscars, one of the L.A. area’s most star-studded events is the Davis family’s biannual Carousel for Hope ball, which years ago was moved from Denver to Los Angeles.
Money Track: Davis’ fortune bumped up an estimated $200 million over this time last year, mainly from his oil deals, which he said gave him his biggest year ever in 1999. Along with soaring oil prices, he benefited from gains in his stock portfolio and real estate transactions, one of which was a 15-year lease on 350,000 square feet of space at Fox Plaza to News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch. An old-fashioned oil wildcatter at heart, Davis has since diversified into real estate, entertainment, gaming, and more recently, the Internet. Davis Cos., his venture capital group, is the lead investor in ThinkBox Media, with a $10 million round of financing for the children’s entertainment and education Web site. Davis briefly dabbled in bringing an NFL team to Inglewood before pulling out. On the gaming front, he has a deal for Davis Gaming to open a riverboat casino in Boonville, Mo., and is involved in a battle for another at Rosemont, Ill.
Buzz: Davis is considered the leading philanthropist in Hollywood and his daughter Nancy Davis is following in his footsteps. Nancy, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has begun her own battle to find a cure for the neuromuscular disease with her annual galas and fund-raisers. (The Race to Erase MS recently raised $2.3 million at the Century Plaza Hotel.) His son, John, runs his own company, Davis Entertainment, which has produced such hits as “Dr. Doolittle.” His other son, Greg, is second in command of Davis Petroleum in Houston. As a businessman, Davis likes to kick the tires and often walks away when he is not satisfied. One example of this was when he backed out a deal to expand the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, after the Indian tribe, the National Indian Gaming Commission and Wisconsin governor balked at his terms. Nonetheless, Davis’s coffers are swelling from a huge strike made by a venture with TransTexas Corp. near Galveston Bay, Texas. Another strike off the Texas coast, a spokesman said, is considered equal to or larger than the TransTexas discovery. “It’s the biggest strike in the history of the company,” a spokesman for the billionaire said. Davis also recently struck oil in Louisiana. When Davis is not scrutinizing a new deal, he can be seen almost every night holding court at Spago, where he has a special table and chair in the center of the dining room.
Source of Wealth: Telecommunications, investments
Net Worth: $3.8 billion
Last Year: $6.2 billion
Background: Winnick first tasted financial success as one of the top lieutenants of junk-bond financier Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham Lambert. He moved across the street from Drexel in 1985 to form his own investment firm, now called Pacific Capital Group. After some modest success investing in ventures like retail furniture chains and real estate development, he and three partners bought an undersea fiber-optic cable operation from AT & T; for $750 million in 1996, renaming it Global Crossing Inc.
Money Track: Dethroned from last year’s spot as richest Angeleno after Global Crossing’s stock fell from a peak of $64.25 a share to around $33 as of last week. Given that his initial investment in the telecommunications company was $15 million, however, he remains well ahead. Winnick is still the largest shareholder in Global, with close to 90 million shares; he has sold around $500 million in stock in past year. Global has grown by leaps and bounds, acquiring Frontier Corp. last year. And although its bid to buy U.S. West fell through, it did a major deal with Microsoft Corp. and Japan’s Softbank Corp. to build an advanced Asian telecommunications network. Through his investment firm Pacific Capital Group, Winnick recently purchased a 70 percent interest in Beverly Hills real estate investment company Colony Capital Inc., which has about $6 billion in real estate investments.
Buzz: Winnick recently bought a one-acre, $10 million Bel-Air home next to the four-acre estate he bought in 1998 and is tearing it down to expand into one estate. He remains a devoted philanthropist, having just donated $40 million for a $120 million peace and tolerance institute to be named after him in Jerusalem, to be built by L.A. architect Frank O. Gehry. He helped son Adam set up Pacific Capital’s $50 million venture fund in January; other Global Crossing executives such as Lod Cook and Thomas Casey also invested in it.
Source of Wealth: Entertainment
Net Worth: $2.8 billion
Last Year: $2.3 billion
Background: The Brooklyn-born, youngest son of an immigrant family talked his way at age 20 from the William Morris Agency mailroom to the job of music agent and manager. By age 27, he had founded the Asylum record label and wooed big-name talent, including the Eagles and Jackson Browne, to sign. After a six-year stint as vice chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures, he returned to music and founded Geffen Records, which would become home to Aerosmith, Guns ‘N’ Roses, and John Lennon. He sold Geffen to MCA Records in 1990. In 1994 he founded a multi-purpose entertainment company with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, becoming the ‘G’ in DreamWorks SKG and running the company’s DreamWorks Records division. The label had two albums in the top 200 in 1999.
Money Track: Billionaire status gained primarily from building and selling record labels. MCA paid a reported $550 million for Geffen Records in 1990. Because most of his money is now in a wide variety of investments, he benefited greatly from last year’s strong economy.
Buzz: Geffen was the subject of a controversial biography released this year for which the music mogul gave eight interviews, then stopped speaking to the author, a Wall Street Journal reporter. He assailed the book, which contained numerous tales of ruthless behavior as well as brilliant strategizing and generosity, for containing inaccuracies, but did not specify mistakes. DreamWorks scored a coup with Oscar-behemoth “American Beauty,” but the company’s record label hasn’t turned its artists’ critical acclaim into sales. He is one of L.A.’s most active philanthropic donors, being highly involved in AIDS-related organizations, funding for the arts and fund-raising for the Democratic Party. He serves as a co-chair of the Democratic Convention host committee, but the DreamWorks partners announced they will cool off their political fund-raising activities after this year’s elections.
A. Jerrold Perenchio
Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Entertainment, media
Net Worth: $2.5 billion
Last Year: $1.9 billion
Background: A former Hollywood talent agent schooled by Lew Wasserman at MCA, this vintner’s son teamed with Mexico’s Televisa and the Venezuelan TV company, Venevision, to buy Univision Communications Inc. in 1992 for $550 million, about $33.5 million of that coming out of his pocket. Perenchio had become a multimillionaire six years earlier when he and Norman Lear sold their Embassy Communications to Coca-Cola for $485 million. He is now chairman and controlling shareholder of Univision, the fastest growing television network in the United States.
Money Track: Univision’s stock price has nearly doubled in the past year, trading last week at around $105 a share and accounting for much of Perenchio’s $600 million jump in net worth. The savvy investor also owns extensive real estate holdings on the Westside and in Malibu, where rising property values have further added to his take. Univision’s annual revenue now approaches $1 billion, up from less than $250 million four years ago. Last year for the first time it began selling its daytime advertising for the same cost per thousand viewers as the English-language networks charge.
Buzz: Perenchio is one of California’s biggest political donors and was a contributor to the campaign of Republican John McCain before he dropped out of the presidential race. He is renowned among Hollywood’s elite for his lavish entertaining. He is also known for his crooning whether it’s a medley of Italian folk songs while gondola riding in Venice, or belting out a rendition of “Blue Moon” at the beginning of a conference call with investment bankers. His future plans include Internet expansion and feature-length film production.
Source of Wealth: Aircraft leasing
Net Worth: $2.3 billion
Last Year: $1.6 billion
Background: Came up with the idea for his company while a student at UCLA, after noticing airlines were spending a fortune to upgrade their fleets from propeller craft to jets. He founded International Lease Finance Corp. in 1973 with Lou and Leslie Gonda, with all three partners chipping in $50,000. The men convinced a bank to loan them $1.7 million, bought a DC-8, and leased it to the Mexican government. Since then, the company’s business has exploded, thanks in part to airline industry deregulation. ILFC, the world’s largest lessor of commercial aircraft, was acquired by American International Group in 1990.
Money Track: As a major AIG stockholder with close to 10 million shares, Hazy’s wealth has skyrocketed over the past year. Other investments include an independent investment portfolio and some agricultural land holdings.
Buzz: Though he’s president and CEO of an aircraft leasing behemoth, Hazy rarely appears in news reports. The accomplished small-craft pilot made sure ILFC was one of the first to own a Gulfstream V, the latest version of the top-of-the-line private jet. Hazy and his top executives are all licensed pilots, meaning they can fly themselves to meetings with clients across the globe.
Residence: Pacific Palisades
Net Worth: $2.0 billion
Last Year: $1.5 billion
Background: Simply put, Steven Spielberg is Hollywood’s most successful filmmaker. Not bad for someone who dropped out of Cal State Long Beach before graduating. Born in Cincinnati, his family later moved to New Jersey and Arizona. He began making movies as a child and at age 13 won a contest with a 40-minute war movie, “Escape to Nowhere.” Even so, Spielberg was ignored years later by every major film school and wound up enrolling at Cal State Long Beach, where he made five films during his studies. His professional debut came with the 1969 short film “Amblin” at the Atlanta Film Festival. He later directed TV shows for $275 a week before doing “Jaws,” his first blockbuster.
Money Track: When it comes to making movies, Spielberg has Hollywood’s golden touch. Seven of his films, including “E.T.” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” are among the top 20 highest-grossing films of all time. “Jurassic Park” grossed more than $300 million and its sequel, “The Lost World,” pulled in nearly the same. As a businessman, Spielberg is a lot tougher than his affable public persona. His approach is simple: when doing a film, he takes a small, up-front salary along with a big chunk of back-end profits. In 1994, he used part of his fortune to co-found DreamWorks SKG, Hollywood’s first major new studio in the past 50 years. Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg each put in $33 million. Since then, the studio has found mixed success. Its “Saving Private Ryan” made $215.9 two years ago but the number of films produced by the studio has since slowed to a trickle. Its biggest hit in recent months was “American Beauty,” which won the Oscar for best picture while grossing $130 million. The studio does appear to have this summer’s first blockbuster with “Gladiator,” which pulled in about $60 million in its first two weeks of release. On another front, DreamWorks this year dumped its sluggish interactive game unit for a reported $10 million after a string of lackluster products.
Buzz: Spielberg’s next film will be “A.I.” for Warner Bros., a sci-fi project developed with late director Stanley Kubrick. That means that Fox’s “Minority Report,” a futuristic yarn starring Tom Cruise, has been pushed back along with Sony’s “Memoirs of a Geisha.” The director is a longtime philanthropist when it comes to Jewish causes, especially the Holocaust. His World War II film, “Saving Private Ryan,” rekindled so much interest in the war and the sacrifices made by GIs that he was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. The director joked, “I’m in the Army now.”
Net Worth: $1.7 billion
Last Year: $1.4 billion
Background: The black sheep of Chicago’s Marshall Field family, Ted Field came to Los Angeles in 1974 and set out on a career as a racer, winning the grueling 24 Hours of Daytona. He also mangled his left hand in an accident at the Riverside International Raceway in 1975. In 1983, Field left racing and set up Interscope Communications, a film production company that made a name for itself by producing very successful middle-of-the-road fare such as “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” “Three Men and a Baby,” and more recently “Runaway Bride.” Field’s other venture, Interscope Records, has gained him the most notoriety, however. In the early ’90s, Interscope Records teamed up with local Marion “Suge” Knight’s Death Row Records and released albums by gansta rappers Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, which transformed rap music, sold millions of copies, and had the establishment up in arms. Now a cash cow for the Seagram Co., Interscope Records has not lost its knack of landing controversial artists like Marilyn Manson and Limp Bizkit.
Money Track: Field inherited $260 million of the Marshall Field & Co. estate. He has been successful in selling stakes in his film production and record companies to the big players. In 1992, PolyGram paid $35 million for a 51 percent share of Interscope Communications, which has now been passed on to Barry Diller’s USA Networks. In 1995, Field sold a 50 percent stake in Interscope Records to Time Warner for $125 million, only to buy it back at a discount when TW got heat for selling gangsta rap. He resold it to Seagram’s Universal Music Group for $200 million later that year. Field is still co-chairman of Interscope Records, which now includes Geffen and A & M; after Seagram pushed through a reorganization.
Buzz: Publicity shy and security sensitive, Field is a crusader against the Republican Party in general and the Religious Right in particular. But he has gotten into trouble with the Democratic Party, to which he used to be a major contributor, because of Interscope’s affiliation with Death Row Records. He pays to play chess with champions, such as Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov.
Source of Wealth: Technology
Net Worth: $1.6 billion
Last Year: Not on list
Background: Born in Tokyo in 1958, Gross grew up primarily in Fort Lee, N.J., and Encino. His entrepreneurial instincts shone through at age 12, when he sold candy bars to his school chums, rivaling the local shop with lower prices. In high school, he launched a solar energy products company and, while a mechanical engineering student at Caltech, patented a new loudspeaker design. He founded educational software company Knowledge Adventure and sold it for $100 million to Cendant Corp. in 1997. But it’s his 4-year-old incubator, Idealab, which has landed Gross on the richest list. Idealab has launched more than 30 companies, most of them dot-coms and five of them now publicly traded.
Money Track: The chairman and chief executive of Idealab pulls in a relatively modest $250,000 a year in salary. What gives Gross billionaire status is his ownership of more than 350 million shares of stock, about a 45 percent stake, in Idealab. The incubator filed in April for an initial public offering in hopes of raising $300 million, but a price per share has not yet been decided.
Buzz: While most people just dream about doing big things, Gross actually acts on his dreams. He is known as a savvy and sharp entrepreneur. Insiders say running an incubator is ideal for Gross, a certifiable bundle of energy who constantly generates ideas, but is not as strong at running the day-to-day operations of a single company. He brings his methodical engineering training to evaluating Idealab’s businesses. He has likened his company’s incubation process to Thomas Edison’s inventing, recognizing that you have to accept failures if you want to have successes.
Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Supermarkets, investments
Net Worth: $1.5 billion
Last Year: $1.8 billion
Background: A native of Claremont and son of an executive who worked for the Stater Bros. grocery chain, the younger Burkle started out as a supermarket box boy but went on to become one of the nation’s wealthiest supermarket moguls. After building the Ralphs chain into the biggest supermarket group in L.A., he sold his holdings to Kroger Co. in 1998, retaining ownership of about 4 percent of the stock. Burkle, a Republican, is a savvy political power broker. He has donated heavily to the campaign of Gov. Gray Davis, and is credited with helping to bring this year’s Democratic National Convention to Los Angeles.
Money Track: Burkle and his father teamed up with Berkshire Hathaway in the early ’80s in an effort to buy Stater Bros., but they were rebuffed. In 1986, the younger Burkle formed the Yucaipa Cos., an investment vehicle that went on to consummate 16 mergers and acquisitions valued at $30 billion. Among his purchases were the Jurgensen’s gourmet chain, Ralphs Grocery Co. and Dominick’s Finer Foods. In 1998 he acquired Portland, Ore.-based Fred Meyer Inc., and folded several of his supermarket holdings into that company. He sold Yucaipa’s 14 percent stake in Dominick’s to Safeway for $1.85 billion and then sold Fred Meyer to Kroger for about $13 billion. The two deals boosted his net worth to $1.8 billion in 1999. However, his net worth has declined somewhat over last year due to a decline in Kroger Co. stock. Burkle has bought into Web-based grocer Peapod Inc. and recently acquired Alliance Entertainment Corp., one of the nation’s largest distributors of music, videos, DVDs and games, but the Internet plays have yet to pay off. He also picked up an unfinished oceanfront home in La Jolla last year, for a cool $16 million. His main residence is Greenacres, the Beverly Hills estate formerly owned by silent screen star Harold Lloyd.
Buzz: Burkle joined billionaires Eli Broad, David Geffen and lawyer Bill Wardlaw as the original co-chairs of the Democratic National Convention, but competing political agendas and personal conflicts led to delays in planning the event. Mayor Richard Riordan, a personal friend of Burkle, brought in his press aide Noelia Rodriguez to get the effort back on track, and Burkle has reportedly taken a back seat in preparing for the event. On another front, Burkle had been backing Michael Ovitz in his bid to attract a professional football team to Los Angeles. However, when Ovitz recently announced he was interested in rekindling his effort, Burkle was noticeably missing from his camp. Burkle has a reputation for being tough, unyielding and consistently direct.
Last Year: $900 million
Background: Gonda was born in Venezuela after his parents fled Hungary during World War II. He graduated from Beverly Hills High School and attended USC. One of the triumvirate that founded Century City-based International Lease Finance Corp., the major lessor of jet aircraft to the commercial airline industry. (The other co-founders were his father Leslie Gonda, No. 12 on the list, and Steven Ferencz Udvar-Hazy, No. 6.)
Money Track: In 1990, ILFC was acquired by insurer American International Group. Gonda remains on the board of directors of ILFC, which is now a wholly owned AIG subsidiary, but he no longer works for the company. He now heads Beverly Hills-based real estate investment firm Lexington Commercial Holdings Inc., which is responsible for Gonda’s net worth soaring along with the ongoing surge in real estate values.
Buzz: Plans for Lexington Commercial Holdings’ 295,000-square-foot Beverly Lane retail-movie theatre complex in Beverly Hills fell through in February. After two years in development, the project was scrapped due to approval delays and the requirement that the project be downsized, which made it economically unfeasible. Lexington still owns the property. Gonda underwrites his own Gonda Family Foundation, which subsidizes programs that incorporate arts into education, such as the American Place Theatre’s Literature to Life program. Gonda keeps an extremely low profile and avoids public honors and interviews. (His office even declined to confirm that Lexington is headquartered in Beverly Hills.) He supported Gray Davis and has contributed to Steve Soboroff’s mayoral campaign.
Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Aircraft leasing
Net Worth: $1.4 billion
Last Year: $1.3 billion
Background: Gonda and his wife survived the Hungarian Diaspora and moved to Venezuela in 1947, then emigrated to the United States in 1963. He formed International Lease Finance Corp. in 1973 with his son Louis Gonda and Steven Ferencz Udvar-Hazy with an initial $150,000 investment $50,000 from each partner.
Money Track: IFLC is well regarded by analysts for its consistent operating performance and is the world leader in leasing commercial jet aircraft to airlines. The company’s inventory consists of more than 450 jet aircraft with a market value of $19 billion. Century City-based ILFC was bought out by insurer American International Group in 1990. Though he has little involvement with the company’s day-to-day affairs these days, Gonda is still a member of AIG’s board.
Buzz: A family friend describes Gonda as a real “humanitarian” of the old school, who is very discreet, low-key and loyal to old friends. His namesake foundation, the Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Foundation, supports medical research, patient care, Holocaust museums and monuments, and various programs in Israel. (Goldschmied was the Gondas’ original family name before they emigrated from Europe.) His foundation has also funded the construction of two neuroscience buildings at medical schools. Its donations total more than $100 million over the past eight years.
Source of Wealth: Television, real estate, hotels
Net Worth: $1.3 billion
Last Year: $1.1 billion
Background: Merv Griffin started out crooning on the radio in the 1940s and has gone on to run a global entertainment/hotel/real estate empire that includes a movie and TV company, an Arizona dude ranch and the Beverly Hills Hotel. He came to national prominence as the host of his own eponymous syndicated TV talk show, but it was his ability to create game shows “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” that got Hollywood to look at him as a serious businessman. His production company was purchased by Columbia Pictures’ TV arm for $250 million in 1986. He is currently shooting “Murder at the Cannes Film Festival” at the French movie gala for E! Entertainment Television. He is also developing an hour-long talk show based on the best seller, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” Another division, the Griffin Group his investment and management company formed Griffin Advertising, which will market and promote companies in the hospitality, entertainment and gaming fields. Merv Griffin Productions handles corporate events and produced the city of Beverly Hills’ millennium party.
Money Track: Because many of Griffin’s businesses particularly hotels, dude ranches and other hospitality or entertainment venues are the sort that tend to thrive in a strong economy, he had a very good year in 1999. He is getting out of the gaming business, however, having sold his last riverboat gambling casino earlier this year because he believes that gaming in this country is overdeveloped. At one point, Griffin owned five gambling boats plus casinos and hotels in Atlantic City and four casinos on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Still the performer, Griffin recently released “It’s Like a Dream,” his first album in 25 years. It’s still too soon to gauge consumer response to the album, but don’t expect it to go platinum.
Buzz: Griffin, who dabbled with a movie career before launching his TV talk show, is now producing a feature film on the adventures of actor George Hamilton as a teenager. Also in development is a game show and “Celebrity Secrets,” hosted by KTLA-TV Channel 5’s Barbara Beck. Griffin, who lives on the top floor of the Beverly Hilton Hotel when he is in Los Angeles, has been spending more and more time on his new yacht, the 170-foot Griff II, which recently was parked at the Chelsea pier in Manhattan. The ocean-goer comes complete with an elevator and heliport. When he is not on the high seas or at the Hilton, he lives in Carmel and Palm Springs.
Roy E. Disney
Residence: Los Angeles
Source of Wealth: Inheritance, entertainment, investments
Net Worth: $1.2 billion
Last Year: $930 million
Background: Roy E. Disney was instrumental in the Walt Disney Co.’s renaissance in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The son of Roy O. Disney, Walt’s older brother and the company’s financial mastermind, Roy E. went to work for his uncle in 1961 as film editor, writer, and producer. In 1967, after Walt’s death, Roy E. was made a member of the Disney board by his father. He left Disney in 1977 as the studio was going through a creative slump and resigned from the board in 1983. He teamed up with the Bass family from Texas, who took a controlling share in Disney and reinstalled Roy E. as vice chairman. The old management team was sent home and the triumvirate of Michael Eisner, Frank Wells and Jeffrey Katzenberg was brought in, overseeing Disney’s successful string of animated features such as “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King.”
Money Track: Aside from his large inheritance of Disney stock, Roy E. Disney’s financial fortunes are tied up with Shamrock Holdings Inc., a vehicle he set up in 1978 to diversify his investments. The mastermind behind Shamrock is Stanley Gold, who started out as an attorney at Disney and who now also sits on the studio’s board. Shamrock’s holdings include a network of radio and television stations and real estate. The company also has been active in corporate takeovers both in the United States and overseas. Among its successful investments was Koor Industries in Israel. Shamrock bought a 20 percent stake in it for $256 million in 1995 and sold it for $375 million two years later.
Buzz: This year’s grand marshal of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses recently fulfilled a lifelong dream to create the sequel to Disney’s classic “Fantasia.” When he’s not overseeing Disney’s animation division, he is an avid sailor, taking part in long-distance races with his 12-member yacht crew. Disney is rumored to be a key figure behind the scenes in Katzenberg’s controversial departure from the studio. Apparently, Disney felt that Katzenberg was getting too much credit for the spectacular success of Disney’s animated features and blocked his path to succeed Frank Wells as the company’s president.
Donald T. Sterling
Residence: Beverly Hills, Malibu
Source of Wealth: Real estate
Last Year: $950 million
Background: Born Donald Tokowitz in Chicago and raised in what was then the Jewish enclave of Boyle Heights in East L.A., Sterling went to Cal State L.A. and graduated cum laude from Southwestern University School of Law in 1961 at age 23. Worked at a furniture store to pay his way through law school and married daughter of the boss. Changed name to Sterling because he thought it inspired confidence. Hung his shingle in Boyle Heights and worked tirelessly as a divorce and personal injury lawyer. Became so successful that he moved to Beverly Hills and began amassing real estate.
Money Track: The rise in high-priced real estate has boosted his portfolio this year. Among other things, he owns Malibu Beach Club, the Beverly Comstock Hotel and nearly half the apartment buildings in Beverly Hills. Bought what had been the San Diego Clippers for $13.5 million in 1981 and three years later moved the team to L.A. (without the permission of the NBA, which cost him $6 million in fines). Through lucrative TV deals, NBA franchises have appreciated to the extent that the lowly Dallas Mavericks were sold earlier this year for $280 million. Given that price, it’s estimated that the Clippers would fetch at least $200 million on the open market today.
Buzz: Remains the sole tenant of Sterling Plaza in Beverly Hills, a building originally constructed 70 years ago by MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer. Doesn’t own the land but has a 99-year lease requiring him to pay the Mayer estate a relatively small annual fee and 15 percent of any rental income. “Some people think I’m eccentric for keeping Sterling Plaza to myself,” he recently told Sports Illustrated in the first interview he has granted in nearly 10 years. “I like riding up and down the elevators alone. It’s a luxury I’ve earned.” Continues to be feted by all sorts of charitable institutions, which he announces by taking out ads in local papers. Clippers’ move this past year from the Sports Arena to Staples Center has resulted in higher ticket prices but has failed to inspire the lackluster team, which went a woeful 17-65 this season. Sterling pays less for his talent than any other NBA owner, which works to his own financial benefit but to the detriment of the team, which is so bad that Sports Illustrated last month dubbed it the worst franchise in sports history.
Franklin Otis Booth Jr.
Source of Wealth: Investments
Net Worth: $1.1 billion
Background: The precocious heir of Harrison Gray Otis attended Caltech at age 16 and eventually earned his MBA from Stanford. Booth did a stint with the Los Angeles Times, which was founded by Otis, his great-grandfather, and rose to vice president. Despite the connections afforded by the newspaper, many members of his family didn’t mingle in society circles. Booth’s father chose to become a rancher after working for a talc-mining company.
Money Track: Booth knew he wasn’t going to get rich working at Times Mirror Co., which was controlled by his wealthier cousins, so he left to launch his own printing company. To advise him on launching the company, Booth hired a law firm and became acquainted with one of its attorneys, Charlie Munger. The printing company never got off the ground, but Munger and Booth remained friends and developed a 40-unit Pasadena condominium project for $1 million, doubling their investment in two years. Munger later introduced Booth to Warren Buffett, then a relative unknown. Booth invested $1 million with Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway that eventually grew into a billion-dollar fortune. However, Berkshire Hathaway’s stock has had its troubles during the past year, which accounts for the $500 million decline in his Booth’s fortune. But that paper loss has been dwindling in recent months, as Wall Street’s attention shifts away from momentum and back toward value stocks.
Buzz: Honored this month by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for his 1977 endowment of $350,000 that has since grown to roughly $80 million. Sits on several boards, including Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, Good Samaritan Hospital, Harvard/Westlake School and the Natural History Museum. Has lived in the same Bel-Air home for more than 30 years and loves to fish in Argentina, hunt partridges in Uruguay and go big-game hunting in Africa.
Last Year: $1.6 billion
Background: Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is arguably best known as the taciturn sidekick of famed value investor Warren Buffett. Munger was an early partner and investor in Berkshire Hathaway and came to Los Angeles in the 1950s. Annual meetings of his investment firm Wesco Financial draw loyal investors eager for advice. In addition to being nameplate partner of Munger Tolles & Olson (the 13th biggest law firm in Los Angeles County), Munger owns a stake in the Daily Journal Corp., which produces 18 publications, including the legal newspapers Los Angeles Daily Journal and San Francisco Daily Journal.
Money Track: With virtually no technology investments and profits sliding in its key insurance holdings, Berkshire’s stock took a beating last year, shedding 20 percent of its value in its worst performance in 35 years. So far this year, with tech stocks falling and value stocks back in favor, prospects are looking a little brighter. But it may be some time before Munger recovers the estimated half-billion dollars he lost over the past year.
Buzz: Buffett and Munger have repeatedly told investors that Berkshire won’t invest in technology companies because the firm can’t predict the future of that business. “If we don’t understand something, we’re perfectly willing to let it rage on with lots of people making lots of money while we don’t,” Munger said at the annual meeting. He suggested the recent tumble of Internet company share prices may not be over, and compared their earlier success to a Ponzi scheme. He also told investors to reduce their expectations about returns from stock. “If you have very unreasonable expectations, it makes life much more miserable. It’s much better to reduce expectations than to expect to get super-human achievements.”
Alfred E. Mann
Residence: Mulholland Estates
Source of Wealth: Biotechnology
Net Worth: $1.0 billion
Last Year: $700 million
Background: Mann learned his ethic for hard work from his immigrant parents, who ran a grocery store. At age 5, he started his own lemonade stand, soon graduated to magazines and newspapers and by high school was trading in silver. With $21,000 scraped together from family and friends, he started his own defense-contracting firm in 1956, Spectrolab Inc. It was the first of seven aerospace and biotechnology firms he would found over 44 years. He now serves as CEO of Sylmar-based MiniMed Inc., which controls 80 percent of the U.S. market for external insulin pumps for diabetics.
Money Track: Used his engineering background and aerospace know-how to invent a rechargeable pacemaker. The invention led to his founding Pacesetter Inc. in 1972. He sold the business to Siemens AG in 1985 for $150 million. Mann owns 32 percent of MiniMed, and his personal wealth increased $300 million from last year as the company continues to prosper, propelling him to billionaire status. MiniMed saw its market cap nearly double over the past year to $3.6 billion as the stock shot up from about $60 to $115 a share, thanks to strong earnings growth and the release of a breakthrough glucose-monitoring device.
Buzz: At age 74, there’s no sign of Mann letting up. He still jets around the globe selling his wares and reportedly puts in marathon 80- to 90-hour workweeks. Mann is building a new $85 million biotech complex at Cal State Northridge that is well underway. But he’s not content just battling diabetes; Mann has taken a fledging Toronto biotech startup called CTL ImmunoTherapies Corp. under his wing. The company, which has a Nobel laureate on staff, believes it has a vaccine that could cure cancer. Mann has certainly demonstrated he has a Midas touch. If the vaccine actually works, he could end up looking like Bill Gates, at least on paper.
Edward Roski Jr.
Residence: Toluca Lake
Source of Wealth: Real Estate, sports
Net Worth: $925 million
Last Year: $800 million
Background: L.A.-born and bred. Graduated from USC, where he played linebacker on the junior varsity football team and earned a degree in finance and real estate. Went to work for his father, the founder of Majestic Realty Co., and eventually succeeded him as president of the firm, now the largest commercial real estate developer in L.A. County. Owns just under 30 percent of L.A. Kings hockey team, which he bought with Denver multibillionaire Philip Anschutz in 1995. With Anschutz also owns 25 percent of L.A. Lakers basketball team.
Money Track: Founded in 1948, Majestic Realty keeps building on its impressive track record of large industrial projects. Roski’s reputation for shrewd deals has been enhanced in recent years by two deals in the City of Industry. One involved an agreement to develop a prime 425-acre site. In the other, Roski secured a master lease from the city on the money-losing Industry Hills Sheraton Resort & Conference Center at a base annual rent of only $300,000. With partner Anschutz built the $400 million Staples Center in downtown L.A., which opened last fall and houses the Lakers and Clippers pro basketball teams and Kings hockey club. While Roski bought into the Kings and Lakers for undisclosed amounts, it’s a good bet that his investments have appreciated: the Kings are worth an estimated $125 million, while the Lakers are worth at least $400 million, given that the lowly Dallas Mavericks recently went for $280 million.
Buzz: With partner Eli Broad, Roski failed in a high-profile bid last fall to land an expansion team from the National Football League. Though “very disappointed,” he is continuing efforts to bring pro football back to the L.A. Coliseum, having just submitted a $400 million renovation plan to lure an existing team (L.A. Cardinals, anyone?). His football campaign, as well as his key role in making Staples Center a downtown reality, have increased his public profile to levels he admits are sometimes uncomfortable. “Nobody would pay much attention to me if I was just doing real estate deals,” he says. Roski still takes time out from his deal making to actively pursue his passion for travel and adventure, having just this month returned from a mountain-climbing excursion with his wife in Bhutan.
George R. Hearst Jr.
Residence: Los Angeles
Source of Wealth: Inheritance
Net Worth: $905 million
Background: One of 10 grandchildren of William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate whose life and career inspired “Citizen Kane.” George Hearst was previously publisher of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Los Angeles Evening Herald Express. After serving as vice president, he became chairman of the board of Hearst Corp. in 1996 when uncle Randolph A. Hearst stepped down. He remains president of the Hearst Foundation and director of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
Money Track: Family-owned, professionally run Hearst Corp. long ago expanded beyond its humble beginnings as the San Francisco Examiner, the company’s flagship paper acquired by William Randolph Hearst’s father in 1880 as payment for a gambling debt. The privately owned company’s holdings now include glossy consumer magazines (Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Town & Country), business media, television and radio stations, interests in cable networks (A & E;, Lifetime), interactive media (StarMedia, Women.com) and real estate. Forbes ranked the company No. 59 on its list of 1999’s top 500 private companies, with estimated revenues of $2.2 billion.
Buzz: Widowed, divorced, and remarried, Hearst has four children. As a family trustee of the Hearst estate, he opposes his uncle, William Randolph Hearst II, who has petitioned to appeal the disinheritance clause in patriarch William Randolph Hearst’s will. Meanwhile, Hearst Corp. is currently making its own headlines, thanks to the controversy surrounding its recent attempt to sell the San Francisco Examiner and buy the San Francisco Chronicle. News of the proposed sale prompted an antitrust lawsuit. Court proceedings have unearthed allegations that the Examiner’s editor and publisher offered to “horse-trade” favorable editorial coverage of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in return for mayoral support of the sale. Also impinging on the Hearsts’ privacy is the trial of Sara Jane Olsen. Last week, Patricia Hearst, a witness in the case, apparently violated a gag order by giving an interview to Talk magazine, which is owned by Hearst Communications.
Last Year: $825 million
Background: One of 10 grandchildren of media titan William Randolph Hearst and the daughter of David Whitmire Hearst. She is married, has three children. Fiercely private, she has avoided media attention a particular challenge after the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst in Berkeley in 1974. Since that incident, all court documents pertaining to the Hearst family have been sealed.
Money Track: See David Hearst Jr. below.
Buzz: See entry below.
David Hearst Jr.
Residence: Los Angeles
Source of Wealth: Inheritance
Net Worth: $905 million
Last Year: $815 million
Background: One of William Randolph Hearst’s 10 grandchildren, David Hearst Jr. is single, and like sister Millicent Boudjakdji he keeps a very low profile. Father David Whitmire Hearst was a newspaper reporter and publisher before becoming vice president and a director of Hearst Corp.
Money Track: The Hearst Corp. media empire’s holdings include newspapers, newspaper syndication and merchandise licensing, magazines (including “O,” the Oprah magazine), broadcast outlets, cable networks, Avon books, and real estate. As one of 11 direct heirs, David Hearst receives an estimated $3.1 to $12.6 million a year in income from the Hearst estate as a life beneficiary. His grandfather’s will gave 99 percent of Hearst Corp.’s common stock to the Hearst Foundation and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation rather than letting his sons inherit directly. Management of the family estate was left in the hands of 13 trustees, eight Hearst Corp. executives and Hearst’s five sons, only one of whom is still living. Boudjakdji and her cousin George R. Hearst are now family trustees.
Buzz: As the Hearst will stands, any attempts by family members to interfere with the corporate management of Hearst Corp. will result in them being disinherited. David Hearst’s uncle, William Randolph Hearst II, and fellow life beneficiaries Joanne Hearst Castro, Debra Hearst Gay and Phoebe Hearst Cooke, are in the process of petitioning this clause in court. They claim that Hearst executives are using the clause to keep family members from having oversight of their assets. As family trustees, Boudjakdji and George Hearst oppose their uncle’s efforts to shed light on the inner workings of the family estate. David Hearst’s position on the matter could not be ascertained.
Bradley Wayne Hughes
Source of Wealth: Personal storage facilities
Net Worth: $875 million
Background: Hughes started out in real estate in the 1970s, but switched to building storage space when he discovered that rent for storage space was the same price per square foot as the garden apartments he was intending to develop and with a lot less overhead. The name of his company, Public Storage, originated during a 1972 road trip. He stopped at a self-storage warehouse with signs advertising “Private Storage,” but realized that many customers thought that meant it was off-limits to them.
Money Track: Hughes’ net worth has suffered a major blow over the past year as his company, along with most other real estate-related public companies, fell out of favor with Wall Street. Despite the fact that Public Storage is enjoying enviable earnings, tech-crazed investors apparently don’t believe it has enough growth potential. With the stock in a slump, the value of Hughes’ 33 percent share of Public Storage has slipped badly. Public Storage operates 1,316 properties in 37 states with more than 700,000 customers.
Buzz: The Glendale-based company and its two development partnerships opened seven facilities in the first quarter of 2000, with 562,000 net rentable square feet at a cost of $34 million. Public Storage reported net income for the first quarter ended March 31 of $72.6 million (34 cents per share), up from $61.8 million (34 cents) for the like period a year ago. That kind of growth is why some analysts think Public Storage has a bright future once REITs come back into favor meaning Hughes may well rank higher on next year’s list.
Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Mail-order merchandise
Last Year: $750 million
Background: Resnick worked his way through law school by running a janitorial company and washing windows. With wife Lynda, he founded Roll International, a holding company for Franklin Mint, Teleflora and Paramount Agribusiness one of the nation’s largest privately owned businesses.
Money Track: Philadelphia-based Franklin Mint, which industry insiders say has a worldwide customer base of more than 8 million, is thought to generate more than $800 million annually from its collector plates, dolls, sculptures and memorabilia, which are sold through retailers and a mail-order catalogue. But it’s Resnick’s portfolio of Westside real estate holdings that accounted for the major portion of his $125 million jump in estimated net worth over the past year, thanks largely to new-media tenants that have caused rents and property values in that part of town to soar.
Buzz: Resnick’s Franklin Mint won a major court victory in January over the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, permitting it to produce commemorative plates and porcelain figurines featuring Princess Di. The court decided the plates didn’t infringe on her publicity rights. In March, Resnick hosted a breakfast for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to raise money for her Senate bid against New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The Resnicks are avid art collectors, particularly contemporary works and French and Italian works from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Alan I. Casden
Net Worth: $850 million
Background: A USC graduate, Casden got into real estate development in 1975 with Coast Fed Properties. In 1990, he bought the company and renamed it Casden Properties.
Money Track: The king of apartment builders, he’s developed ultra-luxury to low-income housing across the country and is now one of the largest private apartment-building owners in the nation. Casden Properties currently owns direct or indirect interests in 70,000 multifamily units and the market couldn’t be better for apartment owners. With a strong economy causing apartment rents to skyrocket (particularly in high-demand markets like Southern California), Casden’s personal net worth has risen steeply as well.
Buzz: Flush with cash from a $390 million private stock offering in early 1999, Casden has plenty of new developments underway, including the 624-unit Villa Azure near Playa Vista. It’s one of the largest apartment complexes to be built in Los Angeles in the past decade. The “Four Seasons-like resort,” which will boast tropical landscaping and a lagoon-like pool, is to be completed by November. In Westwood Village, Casden is currently seeking city approvals and paying off existing loans for a revised Village Center Westwood project, acquired from retail developer Ira Smedra. The Spanish Revival-style project is designed to include 350 residential units, with retail space on the ground floor. “We’re trying to bring the village concept back to Westwood,” Casden said. “Our goal is to create better housing and in doing so increase the wealth of the company.”
Source of Wealth: Investments, educational products
Background: Milken graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from UC Berkeley, and got an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, becoming the first person to graduate with a 4.0 GPA. He was hired by Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., where he popularized the use of low-grade, high-yield “junk” bonds as a way to finance billion-dollar corporate takeovers. His high-wire finance act got him into trouble, and he pleaded guilty to six felony securities violations in 1990. He spent 22 months in prison and paid almost $1 billion in fines and civil settlements. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993, but is in full remission. He has donated millions of dollars to cancer research, dating back to the 1970s. Now he heads Knowledge Universe Inc., which he co-founded in 1996 with brother Lowell and Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison. It operates, incubates and invests in Internet and educational companies.
Money Track: Milken made huge sums during his career as a financier, including $1.2 billion between 1985 and 1987 at the height of the junk-bond boom. Drexel awarded his department a $700 million bonus in 1986, of which Milken got $550 million. Fines and philanthropy have each tempered his fortune, but Knowledge Universe is doing quite well, having reported 1999 revenue of $1.75 billion. The stock of its first venture to go public, Nextera Enterprises Inc., has languished, but the company recently reported its third consecutive quarter of profits.
Buzz: Milken has let neither incarceration nor his battle with cancer slow him down, and remains peripatetic in both business and philanthropy. Along with his duties at Knowledge Universe, he is chairman of the nonprofit Milken Institute think tank. He also heads CaPCure, which funds the search for a prostate cancer cure, and has authored two cookbooks, one of which is Mike Milken’s Favorite Recipes for Fighting Cancer. The ex-fast-food junkie is now a strict vegetarian, and does meditation and yoga to relax. He seems relatively sanguine about his incarceration, telling a San Francisco audience late last year, “It just helped give me a good education, though I’d prefer the education had been a bit shorter.” He was recently named by Worth magazine as No. 6 on the list of leading philanthropists, behind Bill Gates (No. 4), but ahead of the Rockefeller family.
Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Real estate
Net Worth: $825 million
Last Year: $700 million
Background: Educated in Israel after escaping Nazi occupation of Poland. Came to U.S. in 1953 and worked construction jobs in Los Angeles until forming his own construction cleanup business in 1954. Partnered with Sol Kest to form Goldrich & Kest Industries and built a 22-unit North Hollywood apartment building in 1956. Went on from there to become one of the biggest landlords in town. Currently serves as chief executive of the firm and majority stakeholder after retirement of Kest.
Money Track: Goldrich’s Culver City-based firm owns 20,000 apartment units, 38 retirement and convalescent facilities and 21 commercial and industrial developments totaling more than 2 million square feet. The company has the largest number of federally subsidized housing units known as Section 8 housing in Los Angeles. Stands to cash in handsomely as those Section 8 contracts expire and buildings convert to market-price rents. Firm is also under consideration by the city to develop an industrial park at the 16-acre former Crown Coach site along the L.A. River.
Buzz: Described as a true mover and shaker in business, philanthropy and politics. Close to Gov. Gray Davis and Mayor Richard Riordan. Known as a tough negotiator. Shuns the media limelight, although he is known by many of his tenants. Played a major role in establishing L.A. Holocaust Memorial. Avid supporter of Israel and a member of the Hineni Society, the highest gift-giving tier of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
John E. Anderson
Source of Wealth: Law, investments
Net Worth: $800 million
Background: Anderson graduated from UCLA and has since donated $15 million to the graduate school of management, which bears his name and regularly is ranked among the top 10 business programs in the nation. Anderson calls it a “pretty humbling” experience. The highly successful attorney earned a law degree from Loyola University and founded the law practice of Kindel & Anderson LLP in 1953. It soon grew to include more than 100 lawyers. He invested his money wisely and subsequently founded Kayne-Anderson Investment Management.
Money Track: His holding company, Topa Equities Ltd., invests in insurance, beverage distribution, real estate, agriculture and auto dealerships. Topa generated more than $800 million in revenues in 1999 and holds more than $500 million in assets. It’s now in the process of buying three Hawaii-based businesses, two coffee manufacturers and a rum maker. Anderson also retains a seat on the board of the newly renamed Mellon 1st Business Bank, an entity he sold to Mellon Bank Corp. in 1998 for $300 million in cash.
Buzz: Still works 12-hour days while insisting he’s not successful. “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” Anderson says. A big believer in real estate, he likes to quote Mark Twain’s maxim: “Buy land, they stopped making it.” His three grandsons worked for Kayne-Anderson last summer and hope to come back this year. “I talk to them about leveraging and compound interest,” Anderson says. “I tell them it’s the eighth wonder of the world.” Still finds time for the family’s annual summer retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho, with his wife, children and grandchildren.
Source of Wealth: Entertainment
Last Year: $750 million
Background: He’s the K in DreamWorks SKG, but his roots have nothing to do with Hollywood. The son of a stockbroker grew up on tony Park Avenue in New York, just a few blocks away from his boyhood friend Michael Eisner, now chairman of Walt Disney Co. The brilliant but quirky Barry Diller hired Katzenberg as his personal assistant when Diller was an executive at ABC. When Diller moved to Paramount in 1974 to make movies, Katzenberg joined him and raced through the ranks of the company. At 31, he became president of the studio before joining Eisner at Disney in 1984 and heading the studio division. He quit Disney in a huff in 1994 when Eisner refused to make him second-in-command and formed DreamWorks SKG in 1995 with David Geffen and Steven Spielberg. Had to mortgage his house to come up with his $33 million buy-in for DreamWorks.
Money Track: Katzenberg made $100 million in salary and bonuses throughout his tenure at Disney but sued the company for $250 million after leaving, claiming Disney owed him 2 percent in perpetuity from profits on projects done during his tenure. The case was settled last year, with Katzenberg reportedly walking away with between $250 million and $275 million. Meanwhile, Katzenberg has seen DreamWorks undergo its share of growing pains. Thus far, its biggest hit has been “Saving Private Ryan,” which pulled in $216 million in 1998. The studio won its first Oscar for best picture this year with “American Beauty,” which grossed $130 million, and appears to have its first blockbuster in two years with this summer’s “Gladiator,” co-produced with Universal. The movie raked in about $60 million at the box office during its first two weeks.
Buzz: As head of the film division of DreamWorks, Katzenberg is one of Hollywood’s leading workaholics. As a studio boss, he is intimately involved in the creation and marketing of every DreamWorks project and often goes on location to see how a project is faring. Katzenberg remains a leading proponent of big-budget animated films, but achieving a major success has been elusive at DreamWorks. The recent “Road to El Dorado,” which reportedly cost close to $70 million to make, pulled in about $50 million at the domestic box office but is expected to do better overseas. Under Katzenberg’s direction, DreamWorks is expected to have a strong summer led by “Gladiator” and the upcoming golf drama, “Legend of Bagger Vance,” starring Will Smith, and “What Lies Beneath,” starring Harrison Ford and directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Net Worth: $800 million
Last Year: $770 million
Background: Started his career as a writer in the 1950s for the “Colgate Comedy Hour” and then moved into making films like “Cold Turkey” and “Start the Revolution Without Me,” both of which were box-office disappointments in the early 1970s. But when Lear and his partner, Bud Yorkin, turned to TV sitcoms, things changed dramatically. Lear’s comedic vision was that of social realism real people in real situations, not picture-perfect families telling jokes. No one personified this dramatic change better than Archie Bunker, the loudmouth bigot in “All in the Family.” It turned out to be just one of many hits for Lear like “The Jeffersons, “Maude,” “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” “Sanford and Son” and “Good Times.” Time magazine called Lear the “Eugene O’Neill” of TV.
Money Track: Although Lear used the dizzying profits from his TV sitcoms to diversify his holdings into TV stations and movie theaters, the liberal activist was quick to put his money where his causes are. He founded “People for the American Way,” a response to the Moral Majority and its founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell. He sold Boston-based ABRY Broadcast Partners in 1994 for $500 million and Act III theaters for $660 million. He was later hit with a $112 million divorce settlement by his wife, Frances, who died of cancer in 1996. While he has not been active in TV production for some years, Lear still retains Act III Communications as a holding company.
Buzz: Last year, President Clinton, of whom the producer has been a loyal supporter, awarded Lear the National Medal of the Arts. The U.S. Postal Service also honored Lear with an “All in the Family” stamp. Last January, Lear pledged $5 million to the USC Annenberg School for Communication for the Norman Lear Center, a multidisciplinary research and public policy center to explore the effects of entertainment on commerce and society. The center will sponsor scholarships, seminars and conferences.
Source of Wealth: Entertainment
Last Year: $650 million
Background: Born in Israel, Milchan was raised outside of Tel Aviv. He attended the London School of Economics and the University of Geneva. After inheriting $61,000 and a failing fertilizer business, Milchan transformed the family enterprise into a $100 million chemical business called Milchan Brothers. By his mid-20s, he was featured on Israeli TV as a promising young businessman. He later became one of Israel’s largest arms dealers, procuring Hawk and Patriot missiles for Israel and weapons for South Africa. In his early 30s, he began producing movies. One of his first was Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America.” He was also the financial guarantor and producer of the television miniseries “Masada.” He has produced more than 60 feature films, including “Pretty Woman,” “The King of Comedy,” “The War of the Roses” and “Fight Club.”
Money Track: Owns 50 percent of New Regency Productions, a successful independent film company valued at about $1 billion. When the company’s distribution deal with Warner Bros. expired in 1998, Milchan signed a 15-year distribution and equity agreement with Twentieth Century Fox and moved his company to the Fox lot in Century City. Milchan created Regency Television, a joint venture between New Regency and Twentieth Century Fox Television, producing three pilots for the 1999-2000 season. Two of those are “Malcolm in the Middle” for the Fox network and the teen sci-fi series “Roswell” on the WB network, both of which have been hits. Branching out into the field of athletics, Milchan in 1996 bought an equity stake in Puma, a German-based manufacturer of athletic apparel and shoes. Puma has expanded rapidly in the past year, accounting for another chunk of Milchan’s $150 million gain in net worth.
Buzz: Milchan projects in post production include the thriller “Squelch” and Joel Schumacher’s “Tigerland.” Production begins soon on “Freddie Got Fingered,” a comedy written by and starring Tom Green, “High Crimes” starring Ashley Judd, and the comedy “Black Knight.” He owns a 300-year-old hunting lodge outside of Paris and is an avid tennis player whose serves have been clocked at 90 mph.
Source of Wealth: Real estate, agriculture, leasing
Net Worth: $800 million
Last Year: $620 million
Background: A private man who doesn’t like government interfering with his businesses, Murdock made a fortune in real estate development deals. He is cont