America's super rich are getting poorer according to the latest ranking from Forbes magazine. The collective net worth of The Forbes 400 (the annual tally of the nation's richest people) fell $300 billion over the last 12 months from $1.57 trillion to $1.27 trillion. Faltering capital markets and real estate prices are largely to blame, along with divorce and fraud, pushing the fortunes of 314 members down and driving 32 plutocrats off the rankings.
This year membership to this exclusive list was made easier as the price of admission dropped $350 million, from $1.3 billion last year to $950 million this year, paving the way for 19 new members and 19 returnees.
The 10 richest Americans lost a combined $39.2 billion in the past 12 months, a 14% decline. America's richest man Bill Gates saw his net worth decline by $7 billion. Warren Buffett, America's second-richest was hurt the most, dropping $10 billion from his personal balance sheet as shares of Berkshire Hathaway fell 20% in 12 months. He is now worth $40 billion. Other that have lost out include Kirk Kerkorian casino mogul. Shares of his gambling giant MGM Mirage have fallen 90% from their October 2007 high. Enterprise Rent-A-Car founder Jack C. Taylor also saw his fortune drop by $7 billion in a year as the travel industry slows and private-company valuations fall. The biggest gainer is banker Andrew Beal, who tripled his net worth to $4.5 billion buying up cheap loans and assets as the markets crumbled last fall.
Newcomers to the list include Marvel Entertainment chief Isaac Perlmutter, whose net worth soared to $1.55 billion after Disney agreed to buy the superhero outfit in August for $4 billion in cash and stock. Charles Zegar, co-founder of Bloomberg LP debuted at number 371 with $1 billion. Among those returning is venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who rode Amazon's purchase of online shoe retailer Zappos and surging Google stock back onto the list.
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Photo from Creative Commons: Flickr: rutty