Five years after the financial crisis sent the fortunes of many in the U.S. and around the world tumbling, the wealthiest as a group have finally gained back all that they lost. The 400 wealthiest Americans are worth just over $2 trillion, roughly equivalent to the GDP of Russia. That is a gain of $300 billion from a year ago, and more than double a decade ago. The average net worth of list members is a staggering $5 billion, $800 million more than a year ago and also a record. The minimum net worth needed to make the 400 list was $1.3 billion. The last time it was that high was in 2007 and 2008, before property and stock market values began sliding. Because the bar is so high, 61 American billionaires didn’t make the cut.
There are 20 newcomers to the list. Among the notables are Michael Rubin, whose online sports merchandise retailer Fanatics, recently attracted venture capital investors at a sky-high valuation; Jeff Sutton, who owns a number of the priciest store fronts on Fifth Avenue and Times Square, and 35-year-old Robert Pera, one of just nine under 40, whose wireless networking gear maker Ubiquiti Networks surged after a strong earnings announcement in August. At the time he tweeted this lyric from a Jay-Z song: “And as for the critics, tell me I don’t get it. Everybody can tell you how to do it, they never did it.”
Only 30 people from last year’s list are poorer than a year ago. Twenty-eight people dropped out of the ranks and six people died, including surround sound pioneer Ray Dolby. Of those 28, only 15 saw their fortunes drop, including T. Boone Pickens, whose costly bets on wind energy lost him his billionaire status, and Manoj Bhargava, whose 5-Hour Energy drink firm has been hit by lawsuits and falling revenues. The rest simply couldn’t keep up with the rising tide. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is one of the billionaires who didn’t qualify and, in his case, even with a rise in his fortune, just didn’t have enough to stay in the club.
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