aspen billionaires made their fortunes in many ways. they are tech wizards, oil and gas tycoons, real estate tycoons, financiers, and producers of everyday things. their collective net worth is more than $335 billion, and their real estate in the aspen area is worth at least $750 million.
and many of them have gotten substantially richer lately. the richest men in aspen and the sixth richest in the world, brothers charles and david koch, for example, are worth $6 billion more than a year ago, and $17 billion more than in 2012. each of their fortunes, in $41.6 billion, is greater than the gdp of more than half of the countries in the world.
While many fly well below the local radar, most of these billionaires make an impact in Aspen, through their investments in luxury properties and their often generous donations to local nonprofits.
On the other hand, the second-home industry and rising property values have replaced once-vibrant aspen neighborhoods with large, lifeless blocks of houses; marred once-pristine landscapes; exacerbated traffic, congestion and pollution; and drove many locals down or out of the valley.
The power of money is often blamed for Aspen’s growth struggles, and some locals feel that the culture of wealth has become the dominant culture in Aspen. But whether welcomed or shunned, at least fifty of the world’s super-rich are members of the aspen community.
Here, then, are the Aspen 50: the fifty richest people in the world with property in Pitkin County, and there are almost certainly more than make our list. All but three are on the 2014 Forbes World’s Billionaires list. Two are listed as billionaires by the Los Angeles Business Journal, but not by Forbes. And we’ve included the Crown family, owners of the Aspen Ski Company and several local homes, who recently made Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s Richest Families.
Using those lists as a starting point, Aspen Journalism, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization that produced this story for Aspen Sojourner, then used public ownership records and outdated reporting to verify the billionaires’ holdings in Aspen . community. (Links to public records are at aspenjournalism.com).
Property values listed are from the County Assessor’s most recent valuation period, which reflects the market as of June 30, 2012 and formed the basis for property tax bills for 2013 and 2014. Net Assets of billionaires, which Forbes now tracks daily, are listed as estimated by Forbes on June 9, 2014 and as of May 2014 by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
#1Name: Charles KochNet worth: $41.6 billionAge: 78Primary residence: Wichita, KansasForbes 400 ranking: 4Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 6Source of wealth: Diversified, including energy, agricultural materials, and pulp and paperStake in Aspen: $5.9 million West End homeNotes: Liz Koch, Charles Koch’s wife, described skiing with her husband as “flying down mountains, staring at the back of his head, feeling terrified,” according to a 2012 Wichita Eagle article.
the powerful trio: the koch brothers
Although the Koch brothers are collectively known for their conservative politics, each has a somewhat different relationship with Aspen. Charles, CEO of Koch Industries, the nation’s second-largest private company with sales of $115 billion, was an avid skier until his knees gave out. David, who used to throw elaborate Christmas parties at his Aspen home, is a member of the Aspen High School Board of Trustees, where a building is named after him. bill is perhaps the highest profile locally. He has made headlines for being a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the City of Aspen over its desire to use the water from Castle and Maroon Creek for hydroelectric power; for buying, and now trying to sell, for $90 million, the former Elk Mountain Lodge in Upper Castle Creek Valley, a 32,500-square-foot complex used for weddings and corporate events that he converted into a 15-bedroom single-family home. ; and for suing his interior designer for not properly decorating the house with a western theme. maybe bill is retiring to his paonia ranch, where he recreated an old west town.
But Aspen isn’t just a vacation spot for the Kochs. Charles and David, who hold meetings twice a year for like-minded ultra-wealthy investors who are politically active in the brothers’ conservative agenda, hosted one such meeting at the St. regis in 2010. Attendees included Aspen billionaires Ken Griffin and Richard Devos.
#1Name: David KochNet worth: $41.6 billionAge: 74Primary residence: New York City, New YorkForbes 400 ranking: 4Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 6Source of wealth: Diversified, including energy, agricultural materials, and pulp and paperStake in Aspen: Two West End homes together worth $12.8 millionNotes: Koch, with his brother Charles, has tried to reshape the political landscape of America by giving millions to conservative and libertarian causes and candidates through various business and political networks.
#3Name: Jeff BezosNet worth: $30.2 billionAge: 50Primary residence: Seattle, WashingtonForbes 400 ranking: 12Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 20Source of wealth: Amazon.comStake in Aspen: His parents’ $16.5 million home in Pitkin GreenNotes: Bezos’s parents, Jackie and Miguel, own a 10,600-square-foot home where their close-knit family gathers. They also sponsor the Bezos Scholars Program at the Aspen Institute.
#4Name: Michael DellNet worth: $18.5 billionAge: 49Primary residence: Austin, TexasForbes 400 ranking: 25Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 46Source of wealth: Dell, Inc.Stake in Aspen: His father’s $9.5 million Red Mountain homeNotes: Dell, like Jeff Bezos, doesn’t actually own an Aspen home; his father does. But his local stake includes, through his MSD Capital investment firm, an interest in the Related Companies, which has extensive holdings in Snowmass Village.
#5Name: John PaulsonNet worth: $13.5 billionAge: 58Primary residence: New York City, New YorkForbes 400 ranking: 36Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 84Source of wealth: Hedge fundsStake in Aspen: $52.6 million Starwood estateNotes: Paulson vacationed in Aspen for 25 years before buying a home here, according to his spokesman, who added that Paulson plans to “reduce the scale of” the 56,000-square-foot main house on the Starwood estate he bought in 2012.
#6Name: Richard KinderNet worth: $9.8 billionAge: 69Primary residence: Houston, TexasForbes 400 ranking: 39Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 133Source of wealth: Energy, pipelinesStake in Aspen: $10.8 million riverfront home in Woody CreekNotes: Kinder Morgan, which services the Roaring Fork Valley with natural gas, claims to be the fourth-largest North American energy company, with 82,000 miles of pipelines. Richard Kinder was once president of Enron, under the late Ken Lay, another prominent local homeowner.
#7Name: Roman AbramovichNet worth: $9.5 billionAge: 47Primary residence: MoscowForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 139Source of wealth: Steel, investmentsStake in Aspen: Two Snowmass homes together worth $29.2 millionNotes: The once-wealthiest man in Russia (now 14th) also has homes in London, St. Barts, Sardinia, France, and New York (a $75 million Fifth Avenue mansion), plus the world’s largest yacht, a Boeing 767, the Chelsea soccer team—and seven children.
#8Name: Hasso PlattnerNet worth: $8.5 billionAge: 70Primary residence: Heidelberg, GermanyForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 162Source of wealth: SoftwareStake in Aspen: Two homes on Red Mountain valued at $19.3 millionNotes: Plattner is a sports enthusiast who, according to Forbes, likes to ski and snowboard. He’s also pledged to give away half his fortune to philanthropic causes.
pure class: the lauds
aspen has long been a haven for the heirs of the estee lauder queen of cosmetics, an elegant and beloved family that has been a part of aspen society and philanthropic circles since the 1970s. son leonard lauder , 81, has owned a family compound in the West End for years. After Leonard’s wife, Evelyn, died in November 2012, the family made a substantial donation to Aspen Valley Hospital, where the new Evelyn H. the lauder patient care ward, with sixteen private patient rooms, is named for her. (Evelyn’s photos from the Alamos area are also on display at the hospital.) Leonard’s son Gary, a venture capitalist who also owns a home here, co-created the Aspen Institute Socrates Society, and Gary’s wife Laura sits on the Aspen Institute board, a role formerly held by Leonard (who was recently appointed life trustee). Leonard’s niece, Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer, a newcomer to the Forbes World Billionaires List, bought her own aspen house in 2009, a 5,500-square-foot house in Mountain Valley, where, according to fashion, she likes to lounge with Sorel boots and men’s shoes. flannel shirts “We love having cakes from the most amazing place called Paradise Bakery,” she told the magazine in 2011.
#9Name: Leonard LauderNet worth: $8.4 billionAge: 81Primary residence: New York City, New YorkForbes 400 ranking: 56Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 164Source of wealth: Estée LauderStake in Aspen: Four West End properties collectively worth $19.8 millionNotes: Lauder, who last year donated his $1 billion Cubism collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also collects vintage skiing posters. In 2011, he lectured at the Aspen Institute (he is a trustee) on the art of the poster to launch his exhibit there.
#10Name: Richard DeVosNet worth: $7.3 billionAge: 88Primary residence: Holland, MichiganForbes 400 ranking: 60Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 188Source of wealth: Amway/AlticorStake in Aspen: Ski-in, ski-out home worth $4.4 million in Snowmass VillageNotes: DeVos, who cofounded Amway in high school, and his wife, Helen, are donors to the Aspen Music Festival and School, as well as conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
#11Name: Crown familyNet worth: $7.3 billionAge: N/APrimary residence: Chicago, IllinoisForbes 400 ranking: not currently rankedForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: not currently rankedSource of wealth: Inherited, investmentsStake in Aspen: Aspen Skiing Company, multiple propertiesNotes: Besides the four Aspen/Snowmass ski areas, the Crown family’s investments include defense contractor General Dynamics, the New York Yankees, Chicago Bulls, and Rockefeller Center.
the first family of aspen: the crowns
Lester Crown of Chicago fell off the Forbes Rich Lists because he spread his wealth among his seven children. However, the Crown family recently made it onto Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s Richest Families, ranking 35th with a fortune of $7.3 billion. The owners of Aspen Ski Company have a big local impact, employing 3,600 people at the height of the ski season, running the Little Nell and Limelight hotels, and supporting many nonprofit organizations. Henry Crown (1886-1990), Lester’s father and son of a garage worker, built the family fortune with a sand and gravel company and is the namesake of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Scholarship, a development program for leadership. Several members of the Crown family own homes in the Aspen area, including Lester and his wife, Renee, Jim (Managing Partner of Aspen Skico and Vice President of the Aspen Institute), his wife Paula, and Steve and susan. but their policies sometimes differ markedly. Lester was an early Obama supporter, and Jim and Paula were big fundraisers for the presidential candidate in 2008 and also hosted Michelle Obama at their hillside buttermilk house. Susan Crown, on the other hand, supported Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid and headed his Illinois finance committee.
#12Name: Graeme HartNet worth: $7 billionAge: 58Primary residence: Auckland, New ZealandForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 197Source of wealth: Packaging (including Reynolds Wrap)Stake in Aspen: McLain Flats mansion worth $16.4 millionNotes: The richest New Zealander, who dropped out of school at 16 and once drove a tow truck, “snaffled” (got a great deal on) his Aspen home, according to New Zealand’s National Business Review. He bought it in February 2011 for $16 million; it was once listed for $32 million.
#13Name: Jeffery HildebrandNet worth: $6.3 billionAge: 55Primary residence: Houston, TexasForbes 400 ranking: 77Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 233Source of wealth: Oil and gasStake in Aspen: Multiple properties in downtown Aspen and Old Snowmass collectively worth $20.6 millionNotes: Hildebrand built a polo field on his Snowmass Creek estate, telling Pitkin County it was a just very level hay field. He bought the late John Denver’s Windstar property for $8.5 million in 2013, which some Denver fans saw as the final nail in the coffin for the environment-loving crooner’s legacy.
#14 Name: Leslie WexnerNet worth: $5.8 billionAge: 76Primary residence: New Albany, OhioForbes 400 ranking: 73Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 256Source of wealth: Retail (including Victoria’s Secret)Stake in Aspen: $28.5 million Red Mountain estateNotes: The “bra billionaire” stirred up heated debate around a federal land swap to privatize land around his 3,900-acre estate near Mount Sopris in exchange for making public other holdings that have recreational value. The BLM approved the deal in June.
#15Name: Stanley KroenkeNet worth: $5.7 billionAge: 66Primary residence: Columbia, MissouriForbes 400 ranking: 84Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 265Source of wealth: Sports, real estateStake in Aspen: Adjoining Red Mountain properties, an Aspen Mountain townhome, and a commercial building on Galena Street—total value of $28.7 millionNotes: Kroenke, who made the most expensive Aspen real estate purchase of 2011, got rich partially by developing shopping centers anchored by Walmarts—after marrying Walmart heiress Ann Walton. He’s also America’s eighth-largest private landowner, according to Forbes.
aspen has been home to some great moments in digital history, including bill joy (who is notably absent from forbes rich lists) working on the java programming language at aspen and talking about it on the gondola with john doerr, a venture capitalist investing in internet companies who also has a home here. One of Joy’s partners at Sun Microsystems, Andreas von Bechtolsheim, bought the house of Joy at Red Mountain in 1999. Also at Red Mountain is German Hasso Plattner, co-founder of the world’s third largest software company, SAP. /p>
#16Name: Stephen RossNet worth: $5.7 billionAge: 74Primary residence: New York City, New YorkForbes 400 ranking: 94Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 267Source of wealth: Real estateStake in Aspen: Base Village and other Snowmass propertiesNotes: Ross, founder and head of New York’s Related Companies, got his start as a tax attorney. His knowledge of tax law helped him build his fortune by developing federally subsidized affordable housing.
#17Name: Ken GriffinNet worth: $5.2 billionAge: 45Primary residence: Chicago, IllinoisForbes 400 ranking: 103Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 295Source of wealth: Citadel hedge fundsStake in Aspen: Home at base of Tiehack worth $8.5 millionNotes: Griffin, who gets invited to the Crown family’s Aspen parties, is politically fickle. In 2008, he raised an estimated $200,000 for Obama’s presidential campaign; four years later, he backed a Karl Rove super PAC.
Although Stephen Ross does not appear to have any personal property here, his $15 billion related businesses, which in particular developed the Time Warner Center, came to town in 2007 to develop the base village and other Mass Village properties. of snow. Just as he lost control of Base Village to foreclosure during the economic downturn, Ross became a 95 percent owner of the Miami Dolphins in 2009 in a $1.1 billion deal. a subsidiary of the related repurchased base village in 2012 and is expected to start the land use process soon to determine how to complete it. Other billionaires with ties to Aspen who got rich through real estate include John Sobrato, Mortimer Zuckerman, Herbert Simon, and Neil Bluhm.
#18Name: Ann Walton KroenkeNet worth: $5 billionAge: 65Primary residence: Columbia, MissouriForbes 400 ranking: 95Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 307Source of wealth: WalmartStake in Aspen: Four properties worth $28.7 million (see Stanley Kroenke, no. 15)Notes: In a perfect billionaire love story, Ann Walton met her husband, Stan Kroenke, on a ski trip to Aspen. Sometimes she’s worth more than he is; currently, Ann’s net worth is $700 million less.
#19Name: Bruce HalleNet worth: $4.9 billionAge: 84Primary residence: Paradise Valley, ArizonaForbes 400 ranking: 103Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 315Source of wealth: Discount TireStake in Aspen: 600-acre Wildcat ranch valued at $31.6 millionNotes: Bruce and Diane Halle have supported local nonprofits, including the Aspen Institute (endowing the Halle Scholarship program with $400,000), the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and the now defunct Aspen Valley (Medical) Foundation.
#20Name: Daniel ZiffNet worth: $4.8 billionAge: 42Primary residence: New York City, New YorkForbes 400 ranking: 98Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 330Source of wealth: Investments, inheritance (Ziff-Davis publishing)Stake in Aspen: A $44 million collection of local property, including four homes in StarwoodNotes: Daniel is the youngest of the three Ziff brothers, heirs of a family publishing empire and investors with ties to fellow Aspen residents and hedge funders Daniel Och and Edward Lampert.
As the hedge fund industry has grown, so has the industry’s share of Aspen. John Paulson, one of the most prominent of the bunch, is a former Bear Stearns executive who became a self-made billionaire by betting against the subprime mortgage industry in 2007. Paulson made a splash when he bought a 24.5 million dollars worth of McLain Flats, but then doubled down and bought Prince Bandar’s huge estate for $49 million, making world news. Others who have invested in Aspen have made less of an impact: Ken Griffin, Paul Singer, The Ziff Brothers, Daniel Och and Edward Lampert.
#20Name: Dirk ZiffNet worth: $4.8 billionAge: 50Primary residence: North Palm Beach, FloridaForbes 400 ranking: 98Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 330Source of wealth: Investments, inheritance (Ziff-Davis publishing)Stake in Aspen: A $44 million collection of local property, including four homes in StarwoodNotes: The eldest Ziff brother, Dirk is married to a former Forbes reporter. In striking out on his own (the brothers split up their hedge fund), he is reportedly backing a sports agency founded by Roger Federer.
#20Name: Robert ZiffNet worth: $4.8 billionAge: 47Primary residence: New York City, New YorkForbes 400 ranking: 98Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 330Source of wealth: Investments, inheritance (Ziff-Davis publishing)Stake in Aspen: A $44 million collection of local property, including four homes in StarwoodNotes: Robert Ziff, the middle brother, has contributed to Republican legislators supportive of gay marriage.
#23Name: John A. SobratoNet worth: $4.7 billionAge: 75Primary residence: Atherton, CaliforniaForbes 400 ranking: 110Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 336Source of wealth: Real estateStake in Aspen: Seven Timbers Club units worth $11.6 millionNotes: Sobrato’s Silicon Valley real estate firm owns 7.5 million square feet of commercial space, with tenants including Apple and Yahoo. The Sobrato family recently took the Giving Pledge—currently signed by more than 120 billionaires—promising to give most of their fortunes to charity.
#24Name: William KochNet worth: $4 billionAge: 74Primary residence: Palm Beach, FloridaForbes 400 ranking: 122Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 386Source of wealth: Oil, investmentsStake in Aspen: Four properties in upper Castle Creek Valley, including former Elk Mountain Lodge, worth $36.6 millionNotes: David Koch’s less wealthy twin owns a coal mine near Paonia, two hours from Aspen, as well as an energy company that is a significant player in the region’s natural gas industry. While a major employer in Paonia, he has angered some there by proposing a federal land swap that locals claim will block access to public lands.
sports team owners
It’s only fitting that the Institute of Sports Leadership has held its World Sports Summit in Aspen for the past four years, as several major sports franchise owners have homes here. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, whose refusal to change the team’s name remains controversial, spends much of his summers in Aspen, as do his mother and sister, according to a 2006 Washington Magazine profile. Stanley Kroenke oversees a diverse sports empire: St. Louis Rams (football), Colorado Avalanche (hockey), Denver Nuggets (basketball), and Colorado Rapids (soccer), and he is a majority shareholder in Arsenal Football Club (soccer) in England. Other billionaire sports team owners/investors who own homes in Aspen include Richard Devos (Orlando Magic), Stephen Ross (Miami Dolphins), Herbert Simon (Indiana Pacers), Hasso Plattner (San Jose Sharks), Roman Abramovich (Chelsea Football club), the crown family (new york yankees and chicago bulls), and gustavo cisneros (leones del caracas baseball team).
#25Name: Gustavo Cisneros and familyNet worth: $4 billionAge: 69Primary residence: La Romana, Dominican RepublicForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 402Source of wealth: MediaStake in Aspen: $13.7 million compound at base of Shadow MountainNotes: One of Latin America’s most powerful businessmen, Cisneros sold Univision—a small portion of his media and entertainment empire—to a private equity consortium led by Haim Saban, a fellow Aspen 50 homeowner (see no. 30), for $13.7 billion in 1997.
#26Name: Andreas Von BechtolsheimNet worth: $4 billionAge: 58Primary residence: GermanyForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 406Source of wealth: GoogleStake in Aspen: Two homes on Red Mountain together worth $14.5 millionNotes: An early Google investor whose shares are now worth $2 billion, von Bechtolsheim developed the SUN Workstation and cofounded Sun Microsystems with Bill Joy, whose Aspen home he bought in 1999.
#27Name: Daniel OchNet worth: $3.8 billionAge: 53Primary residence: Scarsdale, New YorkForbes 400 ranking: 157Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 435Source of wealth: Hedge fundsStake in Aspen: $16 million home on lower Red MountainNotes: The CEO of Och-Ziff Capital Management, one of the world’s only publicly traded hedge fund firms, with assets of over $41 billion, got his start at Goldman Sachs with fellow Aspen homeowner Edward Lampert, then struck out on his own with a reported $100 million in seed money from the Ziff brothers (see nos. 20).
#28Name: J. Christopher ReyesNet worth: $3.8 billionAge: 60Primary residence: Lake Forest, IllinoisForbes 400 ranking: 134Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 439Source of wealth: Food and beer distributionStake in Aspen: $21.6 million home near ButtermilkNotes: Reyes’s $22 billion distribution company moves more beer than any other distributor in the country. A Chicagoan, he attended Lester Crown’s Fourth of July party on Aspen Mountain last year.
#29Name: Stewart and Lynda ResnickNet worth: $3.5 billionAge: Both over 70Primary residence: Beverly Hills, CaliforniaForbes 400 ranking: 134Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 482Source of wealth: Agriculture, Pom, Fiji waterStake in Aspen: $15.5 million home east of AspenNotes: The Resnicks made headlines when the Aspen Institute proposed—but public outcry quashed—putting their name on Paepcke Auditorium after the family’s donation to renovate the landmark building. Aspen Valley Hospital will name a new emergency department for the Resnicks after a recent gift.
#30Name: Haim SabanNet worth: $3.4 billionAge: 69Primary residence: Beverly Hills, CaliforniaForbes 400 ranking: 143Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 500Source of wealth: TelevisionStake in Aspen: $6.4 million home near the Aspen ClubNotes: Owner of the fifth largest U.S. television network—Univision—Saban’s first hit was the children’s show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He also has the Paul Frank brand, whose cartoon Julius the Monkey adorns clothing, accessories, and other products.
#31Name: John DoerrNet worth: $3.3 billionAge: 62Primary residence: Woodside, CaliforniaForbes 400 ranking: 184Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 513Source of wealth: Venture capitalStake in Aspen: $11.6 million home on Hunter CreekNotes: An investor in Google, Facebook, and others, the Aspen Institute trustee was a founding funder of Aspen nonprofit For the Forest, which targeted beetle-infested lodgepole pines on Smuggler Mountain—Doerr’s backyard.
#32Name: Edward LampertNet worth: $3.2 billionAge: 51Primary residence: Miami Beach, FloridaForbes 400 ranking: 184Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 524Source of wealth: Hedge fundsStake in Aspen: $14.5 million Starwood homeNotes: Chummy with fellow Aspen homeowners and finance men Daniel Och and the Ziff brothers, Lampert’s highest-profile investments were Kmart and Sears (He is CEO of the latter, which used to have an outlet in Aspen.)
the gas men
aspen has its fair share of billionaire homeowners who have gotten rich off energy interests. Richard Kinder’s baby, Kinder Morgan, is the fourth largest energy company in North America, worth nearly $34 billion. has made multibillion-dollar acquisitions in recent years, relying on future shale development to create massive demand for its pipelines. Houston oil tycoon Jeffrey Hildebrand succeeded in 2011 with a $100 million investment in Texas shale that resulted in a $3.5 billion sale to Marathon Oil. his company, hilcorp, one of the world’s largest private oil companies, has been investing heavily in alaska’s cook inlet, ohio’s utica shale and the gulf coast region. The Wilks brothers, Farris and Dan, founded Frac Tech, which provides hydraulic fracturing services to large oil and gas companies. They hit it big when they sold the company for $3.5 billion in 2011, appearing on the Forbes 400 and buying their Aspen-area homes around the same time. Other Aspen homeowners in the oil and gas business include Fortworth resident Ed Bass, who with his four brothers turned a modest inheritance into a huge oil fortune, and the Koch brothers, whose rise to mega-wealth began with oil refining.
#33Name: Thomas PritzkerNet worth: $3.1 billionAge: 64Primary residence: Chicago, IllinoisForbes 400 ranking: 201Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 552Source of wealth: Hyatt hotels, investmentsStake in Aspen: $11.4 million Maroon Creek homeNotes: One of 11 members of the Pritzker family on the Forbes billionaires list, the cousin of Penny Pritzker (see no. 38) is in an ongoing feud with a neighbor who wants to build a home squarely in an avalanche path—and blocking Pritzker’s views. His wife, Margot, is an Aspen Institute trustee.
#34Name: David BondermanNet worth: $2.7 billionAge: 71Primary residence: Fort Worth, TexasForbes 400 ranking: 209Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 679Source of wealth: Private equityStake in Aspen: Wildcat estate and nearby land together worth $30.4 millionNotes: “Bondo,” a major Democratic donor, flies his Aspen pals to Las Vegas for milestone birthdays—he hired the Rolling Stones to play his 60th birthday party there and Paul McCartney for his 70th.
#35Name: Neil BluhmNet worth: $2.6 billionAge: 76Primary residence: Chicago, IllinoisForbes 400 ranking: 222Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 694Source of wealth: Real estate, casinosStake in Aspen: $21.5 million Red Mountain mansionNotes: The Chicago lawyer turned real estate investor and casino owner hosted President Obama’s 49th birthday and has funded several Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton.
#36Name: William Wrigley Jr.Net worth: $2.5 billionAge: 50Primary residence: North Palm Beach, FloridaForbes 400 ranking: 235Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 740Source of wealth: Chewing gumStake in Aspen: Luxury compound overlooking Rio Grande Trail worth $34.2 millionNotes: The fourth-generation gum manufacturer, who left the family firm in 2011 “to pursue philanthropic interests,” according to Forbes, got married in Aspen in 2007 to his second wife, Heather Ann Rosbeck.
#37Name: Mortimer ZuckermanNet worth: $2.5 billionAge: 77Primary residence: New York CityForbes 400 ranking: 243Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 745Source of wealth: Real estate, mediaStake in Aspen: Red Mountain home worth $5.6 millionNotes: The owner and publisher of New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report (and editor of the latter), Zuckerman is one of several Aspen residents who was ripped off by Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. He also, according to Wikipedia, enjoys spelunking and hunting for buried treasure.
the local oligarchs
Russia’s best friends and business partners, Roman Abramovich and Evgeny Shvidler are also residents of Snowmass Village. Abramovich paid $36.3 million for his wild estate in 2008, the second-highest amount ever paid for a home in the Aspen area. A few months later, Shvidler paid $14.5 million for a house that caught his eye on Two Creeks; It was not for sale, but they convinced the owner to sell it for double what he had paid for it. Abramovich and Shvidler have been in business together since the early 1990s. They founded an oil trading company and later took over the major Russian oil producer Sibneft during the era of privatization of Soviet state assets, and then they sold their holdings for billions. It eventually came to light that Abramovich had secured the business through bribes, according to the Times of London. Abramovich, who owns several houses and toys, gave Shvidler, who has a castle and vineyard in France, among other properties, a 370-foot yacht. in aspen, they’ve been low-key, but recently attended the opening of the chabad jewish community center on main street.
#38Name: Penny PritzkerNet worth: $2.4 billionAge: 55Primary residence: Chicago, IllinoisForbes 400 ranking: 252Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 761Source of wealth: Hotels, investmentsStake in Aspen: Paid $9.5 million for a Castle Creek propertyNotes: Commerce Secretary Pritzker, currently the highest-ranked political appointee on our list, is finishing a new home on her Castle Creek property. She was national finance chairwoman for Obama’s 2008 campaign and a key fundraiser in his reelection.
#39Name: Edward BassNet worth: $2.2 billionAge: 69Primary residence: Fort Worth, TexasForbes 400 ranking: 260Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 835Source of wealth: Oil and gas, investmentsStake in Aspen: A home east of Aspen and an Aspen Club condo, together worth $5.7 millionNotes: Bass backed the self-contained living experiment Biosphere 2 with $200 million and is devoted to using native grasses on his ranches. In Aspen, he won approval to dredge a portion of the Roaring Fork River fronting his home in order to improve trout habitat and help stem erosion.
#40Name: Herbert SimonNet worth: $2.1 billionAge: 79Primary residence: Indianapolis, IndianaForbes 400 ranking: 293Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 850Source of wealth: Real estateStake in Aspen: $5.9 million Mountain Queen condoNotes: The owner of Simon Property Group, the largest publicly traded real estate investment trust in the country, owns a relatively modest home—by Aspen standards: a 3,000-square-foot condo that he bought for $1 million in 1997.
#41Name: Howard SchultzNet worth: $2.1 billionAge: 60Primary residence: Seattle, WashingtonForbes 400 ranking: 273Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 865Source of wealth: StarbucksStake in Aspen: $17.2 million home on lower Smuggler MountainNotes: Raised in Brooklyn housing projects, the man who took Starbucks public paid $20 million for his Aspen house in 2011. The progressive executive also has investments in Lululemon, eBay, and Groupon.
#42Name: Dan WilksNet worth: $1.5 billionAge: 58Primary residence: Cisco, TexasForbes 400 ranking: 352Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 1,171Source of wealth: Natural gasStake in Aspen: Two Aspen homes, total value of $11.1 millionNotes: The son of a man who once housed the family in a goat shed, Dan and his brother Farris (see no. 44) did well with the family masonry business before turning to fracking. He bought his two Aspen homes around the time the brothers set off on a real estate buying spree that includes massive ranches across the west.
#43Name: Paul SingerNet worth: $1.5 billionAge: 69Primary residence: New York CityForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 1,172Source of wealth: Hedge funds/distressed debt investingStake in Aspen: Two homes in Two Creeks, Snowmass Village, together worth $12.7 millionNotes: A major Republican donor, Singer backed Mitt Romney to the tune of at least $1 million in 2011 and hosted a meeting of Republican funders in Aspen this past winter. He was also a major sponsor of the 2011 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village.
Women make up about 10 percent of the Forbes 400 and Forbes World’s Billionaires lists, but Aspen’s female billionaires number even fewer. only four of the fifty billionaires on this list, 8 percent, are women. and they all inherited their wealth or built it up with a husband. It’s a small but interesting group: a high-ranking government official, commerce secretary penny pritzker, marketing innovator lynda resnick, walmart heiress ann walton kroenke, and style maven aerin lauder zinterhofer, who is literally getting a name with its brand of aerin beauty products, fashion accessories and home decoration.
#44Name: Farris WilksNet worth: $1.5 billionAge: 62Primary residence: Cisco, TexasForbes 400 ranking: 352Forbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 1,178Source of wealth: Natural gasStake in Aspen: $12.2 million home in The Pines, Snowmass VillageNotes: Wilks bought the priciest ski-accessible home in Snowmass Village just one month after he and brother Dan sold their combined interest in their fracking company, Frac Tech, for $3.5 billion. Still the pastor of his hometown church, Wilks needs a big home—he has 11 children.
#45Name: Michael EisnerNet Worth: $1.5 billionAge: 72Primary residence: Beverly Hills, CaliforniaForbes 400 ranking: N/ASource of wealth: EntertainmentStake in Aspen: Owns a $10 million estate on Snowmass CreekNotes: The former chief of Disney had a lengthy, high-profile entertainment career before founding his investment company, Tornante, in 2005. The name, inspired by a cycling trip in the Italian mountains, means hairpin turn. An Aspen Institute trustee, Eisner is, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal, one of the 50 wealthiest Angelenos. Oddly, he isn’t ranked on the Forbes rich lists.
#46Name: Christopher “Kit” GoldsburyNet worth: $1.4 billionAge: 71Primary residence: San Antonio, TexasForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 1,271Source of wealth: SalsaStake in Aspen: $14.9 million lower Castle Creek propertyNotes: The Pace salsa king was a plaintiff in a lawsuit aimed at blocking a City of Aspen hydropower plant that would have diverted water from the creek that runs past his property, where Goldsbury has water rights. He once spent $20 million to tear down just-built condos overlooking his property.
#47Name: Aerin Lauder ZinterhoferNet worth: $1.3 billionAge: 44Primary residence: New YorkForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 1,388Source of wealth: Inherited, cosmeticsStake in Aspen: $4.36 million Mountain Valley homeNotes: The niece of Leonard Lauder (see no. 9), Zinterhofer, who launched her own eponymous lifestyle brand in 2012, apparently wanted a simple Aspen home. “She chose to avoid the billionaire neighborhoods like Red Mountain and go for something more local and low-key,” her interior designer told Vogue.
#48Name: Dan SnyderNet worth: $1.2 billionAge: 49Primary residence: Potomac, MarylandForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 1,444Source of wealth: Marketing, private equity, Washington RedskinsStake in Aspen: $14.42 million home near ButtermilkNotes: A college dropout who made his first million at age 20 marketing to college students, Snyder’s private jet can be easily identified at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport—it sports the controversial logo of the Washington Redskins, the third most valuable NFL team, which Snyder bought in 1999.
#49Name: Marc NathansonNet worth: $1.18 billionAge: 69Primary residence: Holmby Hills, CaliforniaForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: N/ASource of wealth: Communications, real estate, artStake in Aspen: Owns a $7.6 million home in AspenNotes: Nathanson, like Michael Eisner, doesn’t appear on Forbes’ s rich lists, but is one of L.A.’s wealthiest citizens, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal. The former cable company executive is an Aspen Institute trustee and his board bio notes that “he and his wife, Jane, reside in Los Angeles and Aspen.”
#50Name: Evgeny (Eugene) ShvidlerNet worth: $1.1 billionAge: 50Primary residence: LondonForbes 400 ranking: N/AForbes World’s Billionaires ranking: 1,493Source of wealth: Oil and gas, investmentsStake in Aspen: $6.8 million Two Creeks homeNotes: Russian-born Shvidler became a U.S. citizen in 1994 before returning to Russia to go into business with best buddy Roman Abramovich (see no. 7). Both bought homes in Snowmass in 2008, but Shvidler’s primary residence is now in England.