Seven billionaires on the new Forbes list control half of the wealth of the 54 richest Palm Beach residents identified by the Palm Beach Daily News.
By: Darrell Hofheinz – Palm Beach Daily News
Fifty-four billionaires with homes in Palm Beach amassed a staggering collective net worth of $408.6 billion, according to a deeper dive into the Palm Beach Daily News’ analysis of the latest Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people.
As previously reported by the Daily News, the Forbes list released April 5 includes a record number of billionaires with strong residential ties to Palm Beach, the newspaper’s annual analysis shows.
By way of comparison, the Palm Beach billionaires’ total wealth exceeds the 2021 gross national product of Denmark.
World’s wealthiest:Palm Beach sees increase in billionaires, analysis of 2022 Forbes data shows
The Palm Beach residents are among the world’s 2,668 billionaires — worth a collective $12.7 trillion — on the Forbes list, which was based on a March 11 snapshot of their wealth. Of the billionaires on the global list, 735 are American, according to Forbes.
The number of Palm Beach billionaires may exceed the 54 identified by the Daily News, because homebuyers’ identities are often cloaked behind the entities they use to buy their homes.
Last year, the Daily News identified 47 billionaires in town.
Some of the billionaires have their primary homes on the island, while others own vacation retreats, property records show.
Reflecting wealth trends across the globe, the Palm Beach billionaires’ assets are not evenly distributed. More than half of their wealth — $208.4 billion — is held by the seven billionaires who landed at the top of the Palm Beach rankings.
Those seven include Julia Koch (widow of industrialist David Koch) and her family, with an estimated net worth of $60 billion; private-equity specialist Stephen Schwarzman ($34.8 billion); hedge fund manager Ken Griffin ($27.2 billion); cosmetics mogul Leonard Lauder ($23.1 billion); mortgage-loan magnate and NBA Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert ($22 billion); money manager Abigail Johnson ($21.2 billion); and digital trading pioneer Thomas Peterffy ($20.1 billion).
The seven wealthiest Palm Beachers are also the only ones whose net worth was reported at more than $17 billion each.
Of the seven richest, only Peterffy has identified Palm Beach as his primary residence in the latest Palm Beach County tax rolls. Peterffy owns his lakefront house on South Ocean Boulevard through a trust, property records show.
On the global Forbes list, Koch and her family ranked in 21st place. Reebok founder Paul Fireman took the last spot among his Palm Beach neighbors, tied in 2,448th place on the global list with $1.1 billion.
Twenty-six of the Palm Beach billionaires saw their fortunes increase over the last year, with the three at the top of the list enjoying the biggest increases. Koch and her family’s wealth jumped by $13.6 billion, tying her on the world list with one of her husband’s brothers, Koch Industries Chairman and CEO Charles Koch, who does not own a home in Palm Beach. Another Koch brother, Palm Beach resident and industrialist Bill Koch, is much farther down on the list, with a net worth of $1.6 billion
In second place on the Palm Beach list, Schwarzman saw a year-over-year hike of $12.9 billion, while Griffin’s wealth grew by $11.2 billion, the Forbes list showed.
Palm Beach’s most famous billionaire, former President Donald Trump, saw his wealth rise from $2.4 billion in 2021 to $3 billion on the new list.
Another 13 billionaires on the Palm Beach list saw a drop in their wealth, while 12 saw their fortunes remain flat. Three others were new to the 2022 Forbes list, so a year-over-year comparison of their assets wasn’t possible.
A number of newer-to-Palm Beach billionaires bought homes in Palm Beach during the frenzied real estate market that accompanied the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years, the Daily News has confirmed.
Among the newer homeowners were Gilbert; hedge fund manager David Tepper, with a net worth of $16.7 billion; discount brokerage pioneer Charles Schwab ($12.2 billion); private-equity specialist Josh Harris ($5.8 billion); real estate tycoon Neil Bluhm ($5.5 billion); Scott Shleifer ($5 billion); hedge fund manager John Paulson ($4 billion); hedge fund manager James G. Dinan ($1.9 billion); and private-equity specialist J. Christopher Flowers ($1.2 billion).