Billionaires — they’re just not what they used to be.
When Forbes started tracking the world’s billionaires 25 years ago, they were rare birds indeed, only about 44 of them in the U.S. Today, according to the Forbes ranking issued Thursday, there are 425 in the U.S. and 1,226 worldwide. Including the lady who invented Spanx!
But have they become less, you know, special? Consider: Our region’s most flamboyant moneybags, Jack Kent Cooke, never made it to ten figures before his 1997 death. Now we’ve got a dozen billionaires kicking around the Washington area, but most you wouldn’t recognize on the street. Who are they, and what are they doing with all that extra cash?
• Jacqueline Mars, The Plains, Va., $13.8 billion.
How she made it: The family candy company (Milky Way, M&Ms, etc.).
How she spends it: The Washington National Opera
• Mitchell Rales, 55, Potomac, and Steven Rales, 60, D.C., $3.7 billion and $3.3 billion.
How they made it: Buying up manufacturing plants.
How they spend it: Art. Mitch is a major donor to the National Gallery and collects for his own private museum; Steven produces indie films like “Young Adult” and “Moonrise Kingdom.”
• Ted Lerner, 86, Chevy Chase, $3.3 billion.
How he made it: Real-estate development.
How he spends it: Bought the Washington Nationals in 2006.
• David Rubenstein, 62, Bethesda; William Conway, 62, McLean; and Daniel D’Aniello, 65, Vienna; $2.8 billion each.
How they made it: Buying and flipping companies via their Carlyle Group private equity firm.
How they spend it: Rubenstein writes jumbo checks to the Kennedy Center (he chairs the board), National Archives and, most recently, for the repair of the Washington Monument. Also, owns a copy of the Magna Carta. His partners keep much lower profiles.
How they made it: The family hotel empire.
How they spend it: Recently, in support of Mitt Romney .
• Steve Case, 53, McLean, $1.5 billion.
How he made it: AOL, venture capital projects.
• Bernard Saul II, 79, Chevy Chase, $1.1 billion.
How he made it: The family real estate company; founded Chevy Chase Bank.
How he spends it: Quietly.
• Dan Snyder, 47, Potomac, $1.1 billion.
How he made it: A marketing business, then the Washington Redskins.
How he spends it: Marquee players, a superyacht.