Every Thursday, Francis Storrs will take an inside look at high-stakes finance and dealmaking. This week: The Forbes 400 shortchanges Bostonians.
Forbes has just published it list of 400 Richest Americans and, according to the magazine’s estimates, a mere seven billionaires call our state home. That’s embarrassing. California has 25. So do New York and Texas. And yet we’re stuck between Washington state (6) and Connecticut (9). Can’t we do better than that? I think we can.
First, it’s worth catching up with the list’s usual suspects. Abby Johnson and her father, Ned, are the state’s wealthiest people (with fortunes estimated at $15 and $11, respectively). Don’t look for that to change.
As a private company, Fidelity is largely immune to the investor panic that helped torpedo public firms like Lehman Brothers. If anything, Fidelity is actually busier as investors move their dwindling accounts from sinking public ships to the old Ironsides that is the Johnson family business.
Rounding out the Mass. list are Beacon Hill resident Amos Hostetter ($2.8 billion); New Balance’s Jim Davis ($2.5 billion); Bob Kraft ($1.5 billion) who should see a bump next year thanks to Patriot Place; the indomitable Amar Bose ($1.5 billion) and EMC-cofounder Dick Egan ($1.5 billion).
All of these guys are perennials on the Forbes list. Yet there are others that still have homes here—or have fortunes closely tied to our state—that should grant them at least honorary citizenship in our state.
Las Vegas’s Sheldon Adelson has lost an estimated $13 billion, more than anyone else on Forbes‘ list. His net worth is still pegged at $15 billion, though, so don’t feel too bad for him. And don’t for a minute think that Dorchester-born gaming titan has taken his eyes off developing the mother of all casinos right here in the Bay State. He could stay in the home he still owns in Newton.
IDG chairman Patrick McGovern ($4.1 billion) is listed as a New Hampshire resident, but he spends plenty of time at his tech publishing company’s offices in Boston and Framingham. (He also finds time to occasionally dine with Ned Johnson, who he considers a mentor.)
New Hampshire’s John Abele ($1.5 billion) co-founded Boston Scientific and likely stays at his Cambridge pied-a-terre when he’s in town for board meetings. Jeremy Jacobs ($1.6 billion) lives in New York, where he donated $10 million to the University of Buffalo earlier this year, yet his TD Banknorth Garden, Boston Bruins, and son Charlie are all here. He must visit occassionally, right?
Bill Koch ($3 billion) has his fulltime residence is Palm Beach, Florida, but summers on the Cape, where he collects a few of his favorite things. Ed Ansin lives in Florida, too, but the bulk of his broadcasting empire is now here with Channel 7 (which he bought from David Mugar) and 56 (which he spent $114 million on a couple of years ago). And that empire has demanded a little extra attention lately, what with that whole Goldklank situation.
So what’s that? Fifteen billionaires? We’re still far back from New York, but at least we can say we beat Michigan’s ten.