Richest Rich Richer Still

Chris Brady cdbrady at
Fri Sep 19 01:55:14 MDT 2003

{"The rich get richer..."
does anybody not know this?  --cb}

Annual List of Richest Americans Released

By THERESA AGOVINO, AP Business Writer , Thu Sep 18, 6:53 PM ET

NEW YORK - The economy is improving for the super rich. After two years
of declines, the total net worth of America’s richest people rose 10
percent to $955 billion this year from 2002, according to Forbes
magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s 400 wealthiest individuals.

Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, who remained in the top spot,
personified the trend toward increasing wealth. His fortune increased by
$3 billion to $46 billion this year. Microsoftco-founder Paul Allen held
third place, with his net worth rising $1 billion to $22 billion.

Investor Warren Buffett kept the No. 2 position although his wealth was
unchanged at $36 billion.

Forbes said the surge in collective net worth was largely due to gains
in Internet stocks and tech fortunes.  For example,’s Jeff
Bezos saw his fortune expand by more than $3 billion to$5.1 billion as
the stock of the online retailer skyrocketed. Bezos was the top gainer
on the list, and holds spot 32.

David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo!, saw his net worth nearly triple to
$1.6 billion, tying him with 13 others for the 126th spot. Yahoo!’s
other co-founder, Jerry Yang, also nearly tripled his fortune, but he
shared the 162nd spot on the list with 16 others with a $1.4 billion

The gains are part of a continuing shift in wealth from the East to the
tech-centric West. When the list was first published in 1982, there were
81 members from New York and 56 from California.  Today, California
boasts 95 Forbes 400 members, while New York has 47.

“There’s been this enormous shift in the geographic distribution of
wealth,” Forbes senior editor PeterNewcomb said.

 Newcomb said the migration of high-tech businesses and their founders
to the West is a factor in this change, but he also noted that many
wealthy East Coast families such as the du Ponts and Rockefellers have
been passing on their fortunes to members of younger generations.

 The Walton family was again prominent on the list. Five members of
Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton’s family tied for the fourth spot, each with
a net worth of $20.5 billion.

 Rounding out the top 10 were Oracle Corp. chairman Larry Ellison with
an $18 billion fortune and Dell Inc. chief executive Michael Dell with a
net worth of $13 billion.

 Dell replaced Microsoft executive Steven Ballmer in 10th place. Ballmer
is now No. 11 with a nest egg of $12.2 billion.

 Notable drop-offs from the list include Global Crossing Ltd. founder
Gary Winnick, whose company is in bankruptcy, and Motorola Corp. CEO
Robert Galvin, whose company is suffering from the malaise afflicting
the wireless and chip-making  industry.

 Daniel Ziff, 31, is the youngest person on the list. He inherited his
$1.2 billion fortune. His father William Ziff Jr., built and sold a
publishing empire.

 The oldest person on the list is 95-year-old Max Fisher, who made his
$680 million fortune through investments.

 Newcomb said Forbes compiled its list by estimating the value of stock
and other assets held by the wealthiest Americans.  Forbes used the
stock prices of publicly held companies as of the end of August; for
privately held companies, the magazine estimated a fair market value
based on the stocks of their publicly traded peers. Real estate and
other assets also were included.

 Where exact prices were not known, “we try to determine what a prudent
shopper would pay for something,” Newcomb said. “We try to be
conservative with the estimates.”

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