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Big hearts but even bigger bank balances: Forbes announces list of America’s richest people… and the billionaires planning to spread their wealth around
By Daniel Bates and Louise Boyle
PUBLISHED:22:37 EST, 19 September 2012| UPDATED:22:57 EST, 19 September 2012
Congregated behind closed doors of the grandiose Trustees Room at New York Public Library, this group of individuals made for the wealthiest gathering in the world.
The twelve – Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Bill and Melinda Gates, Pete Petersen, Leon Black, Jon Bon Jovi, Marc Benioff, David Rubenstein, Steve Case, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and Marc Andreessen – may have made their billions from as diverse pursuits as rock music to microchips, but they have united to dedicate vast portions of their wealth to philanthropic causes.
Their combined wealth totals a staggering $126billion – with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in first and second place respectively. The two leaders of the billionaire pack supported the Summit on Philanthropy – where 161 of the richest people in America met to share ideas on how the wealth might be spread across education, poverty, religion, medicine and the environment.
The billionaires posed at the library in Manhattan on June 26 this year for the 30th anniversary cover of Forbes 400, published on October 8.
The United States still has the largest share of billionaires of any nation with 480. The top ten richest in the Forbes 400 reads: Bill Gates ($66 billion); Warren Buffett ($46 billion); Larry Ellison ($41 billion); Charles Koch ($31 billion); David Koch ($31 billion); Christy Walton & family ($27.9 billion); Jim Walton ($26.8 billion); Alice Walton ($26.3 billion); S. Robson Walton ($26.1 billion) and Michael Bloomberg ($25 billion).
Mark Zuckerberg made the list but lost nearly half of his $17.5bn fortune after the disastrous Facebook stock market flotation. The founder of the social network is now worth $9.4bn having seen $8.1bn vanish from his personal worth over the last 12 months.
The stock market price fell by nearly half to below $20 a share amid a flurry of lawsuits, finger pointing and recriminations that will linger for years to come.
Celebrity do-gooders: Rock star Jon Bon Jovi (left) and chat show queen Oprah are just two of the super-rich committed to a broad range of philanthropic causes
According to the Forbes list of 400 Richest Americans for 2012, Zuckerberg has lost more money than anybody else, sending him down from 14th to 36th place.
In a sign of how volatile Facebook has become, last year he was the biggest gainer on the list having added $10.6bn to his fortune. In its analysis, Forbes says that Facebook has ‘performed poorly’ and that it reported a net loss of $157m in July, which drove the stock price down even more.
However it also said that Zuckerberg’s personal fortune was still ‘impressive’ and that he remained committed to the future of the company.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates remains at the top of the Richest Americans list with a fortune of $66bn, followed by investor Warren Buffett on $46bn.
Something to smile about: Gates topped Forbes’ annual list of the U.S. Uber-elite for the 19th year in a row with $66 billion, up $7 billion from a year earlier while investor Warren Buffett, the head of Berkshire Hathaway, again took second place with $46 billion
Oracle founder Larry Ellison is third and is worth $41 billion, up $8 billion which is the biggest rise this year.
Forbes put it down to getting rid of unprofitable parts of the business, although he did spend $500m buying the entire Hawaiian island of Lanai.
The combined wealth of America’s richest is $1.7 trillion, up from $1.5 trillion in 2011, in due part to the rising stock market, a rebound in real estate values – especially in cities like Los Angeles and New York, and rising values for art works
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