These US real estate titans made Forbes’ billionaires list

Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann fell off

TRD NATIONAL /
Apr.April 08, 2020 06:05 PM
From left: Donald Trump, Jane Goldman of Solil Management, Jorge Perez of Related Group, Stephen Ross of Related Companies, Jeff Greene, Brian Chesky of Airbnb, Sam Zell of Equity Group Investments, Jeff Sutton of Wharton Properties with Adam Neumann, former WeWork CEO (Illustration by The Real Deal)

From left: Donald Trump, Jane Goldman of Solil Management, Jorge Perez of Related Group, Stephen Ross of Related Companies, Jeff Greene, Brian Chesky of Airbnb, Sam Zell of Equity Group Investments, Jeff Sutton of Wharton Properties with Adam Neumann, former WeWork CEO (Illustration by The Real Deal)

More than 2,000 people — and hundreds of U.S. real estate titans — cracked Forbes’ latest list of the world’s billionaires.

But in the last 12 days, 226 people saw their net worth fall below the $1 billion mark amid the global economic meltdown. And while few will shed any tears for them, a total of 267 people who made the list last year didn’t make the cut this year, including former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann.

Some of the wealthiest real estate names on the 2020 list are investors and developers from Hong Kong and China. Of the 10 richest people to make their fortunes in real estate, only two were from outside Hong Kong or China.

Overall, 51 percent of the people who made this year’s billionaires list are worth less in 2020 than they were last year.

The richest real estate tycoon in the U.S. is Irvine Company’s Donald Bren. His $15.5 billion net worth ranks him 63rd. His California company owns over 100 million square feet across the U.S., according to Forbes. While most of that is in California, some includes New York and Chicago.

Singaporean brothers Robert and Philip Ng rounded out the top 10 among real estate billionaires.

Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffett clocked in at No. 4 overall in the world with a net worth of $67.5 billion, though real estate — Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices — is only a piece of his vast empire. And that amount is actually down from the $80.8 billion he was worth on the list a year ago.

He ceded his No. 3 position to luxury goods baron Bernard Arnault. Jeff Bezos retained his rank as the world’s richest man, Bill Gates kept his second spot.

Stephen Ross, Related Companies chairman, had a $7.6 billion net worth, earning him the 185th spot overall.

Notably, the co-founders of Airbnb — now reeling from the worldwide decline in bookings — cracked the top 500. With net worths of $4.1 billion each, Brain Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia tied for No. 437. Being under 40, they’re also among the youngest billionaires on the list.

Another real estate standout was Jane Goldman. The Solil Management scion — who tied for spot 648 with her three siblings — is the only female billionaire running a real estate firm in the U.S.

President Trump tied for 1,001 on the list with Jay Paul, a Silicon Valley real estate developer. Both of them have a net worth of $2.1 billion. For Trump, that’s down from the $3.1 billion net worth Forbes pegged him at last year. Bloomberg estimated the President’s net worth at $3 billion last summer. According to the Guardian, Trump lost $1 billion over the past month from his Trump Organization-run properties.

Equity Group Investments’ Sam Zell, meanwhile, made the list at 349, with a net worth of $4.8 billion. A good chunk of that is reportedly cash, which is exactly what a self-described “professional opportunist” would want in a time when other investors are selling at steep discounts to raise money.

Neumann, who made the list last year with a net worth of $4.1 billion, lost big, in many ways. The WeWork co-founder and now former CEO is today worth around $750 million, according to Forbes. WeWork’s failed IPO and his resignation as its chief last fall significantly reduced his net worth. As part of the October deal that pushed him out of the company, Neumann had the right to sell nearly $1 billion in stock. Now, WeWork’s chief backer SoftBank, is backing out of its pledge to buy back $3 billion of shares from investors, among them, Neumann.

Speaking of SoftBank, its founder and CEO Masayoshi Son remains one of the world’s richest. Although Son took plenty of heat for his role in the WeWork debacle, he’s still worth $16.6 billion. That’s down from $24 billion last year, but still makes him the world’s 56th richest person.

Other real estate moguls that made the list include Sheldon Solow ($4.2 billion); Jerry Speyer ($4 billion); Jeff Sutton ($3.8 billion); Neil Bluhm ($3.7 billion); Jeff Greene ($3.7 billion); Donald Sterling ($3.6 billion); Ben Ashkenazy ($3.5 billion); Rick Caruso ($3.4 billion); John Catsimatidis ($3.3 billion); Jonathan Gray ($3.2 billion); Charles Cohen ($3.2 billion); Solil Management scions Allan Goldman, Amy Goldman Fowler and Diane Kemper (tied with Jane Goldman at $3.1 billion); Richard LeFrak & family ($2.8 billion); Herb Simon, who co-founded the predecessor firm to Simon Property Group ($2.5 billion); Mortimer Zuckerman ($2.5 billion); David Walentas ($2.3 billion); Jay Paul ($2.1 billion); and Related Group of Florida’s “condo king” Jorge Perez ($1.9 billion).


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