Steven Ferencz Udvar-Hazy
Age: About 50
Net Worth: $675 million
Source of Wealth: Aircraft leasing
Residence: Beverly Hills
An ambitious Steven Udvar-Hazy couldn’t even wait to finish college before starting his rise to the richest of the rich. He began his business career during his undergraduate years at UCLA, where he formed his own aircraft brokerage firm.
But it was his fortuitous partnership with a young Louis Gonda in 1973 that really sent Udvar-Hazy’s career skyward. That was the year the two friends established International Lease Finance Corp., a Century City-based aircraft leasing firm that has become one of the world’s biggest companies in its field.
Gonda and Udvar-Hazy each chipped in $50,000 to start their venture and were soon joined by Gonda’s father, Leslie, who pitched in another $50,000. The enterprise thrived in the 1980s as the airline industry was deregulated, bringing a huge windfall for all three partners.
ILFC went public in 1983 and was acquired by American International Group in 1990.
While Louis Gonda is less active at ILFC today, Udvar-Hazy remains very involved as the firm’s president and chief executive officer.
A certified pilot and father of four, the Hungarian-born Udvar-Hazy has developed a reputation as a demanding businessman and shrewd negotiator known for his sense of industry. He frequently flies around the world in a company jet looking for new business.