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The 400 Richest Americans

September 23, 2005 10:48 IST

For the third consecutive year the rich got richer. In this, the 24th annual edition of The Forbes 400, the collective net worth of America's wealthiest climbed $125 billion, to $1.13 trillion.

All but 26 people on our roster are billionaires. Surging real estate and oil prices drove up several fortunes and helped pave the way for 33 new members (and 9 retreads).

Google Inc's mammoth initial public offering has netted its two co-founders an interesting side benefit: an entry into the upper echelons of Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans.

Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp's Co-founder and Chairman, was the wealthiest person in the United States for the 11th straight year with a net worth of $51 billion, followed again by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Warren Buffett's $40 billion, according to Forbes, which released its annual rankings on Thursday.

Rank

Name

Net Worth ($mil)

Age

Residence

SourceĀ 

1

Gates, William Henry III

51,000

49

Medina, WA

Microsoft

2

Buffett, Warren Edward

40,000

75

Omaha, NE

Berkshire Hathaway

3

Allen, Paul Gardner

22,500

52

Seattle, WA

Microsoft, investments

4

Dell, Michael

18,000

40

Austin, TX

Dell

5

Ellison, Lawrence Joseph

17,000

61

Silicon Valley, CA

Oracle

6

Walton, Christy

15,700

50

Jackson, WY

Wal-Mart inheritance

6

Walton, Jim C

15,700

57

Bentonville, AR

Wal-Mart

8

Walton, S Robson

15,600

61

Bentonville, AR

Wal-Mart

9

Walton, Alice L

15,500

56

Fort Worth, TX

Wal-Mart

10

Walton, Helen R

15,400

86

Bentonville, AR

Wal-Mart

Perhaps more noteworthy is the ascent of Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who were ranked 16th by Forbes with $11 billion each, up from No. 43 last year when they each had a net worth of $4 billion.

Google went public last year, but the Internet search engine returned to the capital markets this month with a follow-up offering of shares that raised $4.18 billion. The company has earned $1 billion since going public.

Gulf Coast oilman Tracy Krohn landed on the list after taking his W&T Offshore drilling operation public in January.

According to Forbes, whose reporters assembled the list through a series of interviews and company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Brin's and Page's post-IPO wealth is accruing at speeds faster than Gates' wealth after Microsoft went public.

Collectively, the top 10 richest Americans saw their collective net worth climb $125 billion, the magazine said.

The poorest members of the list each had a net worth of $900 million.

Developers Jorge Perez and Steven Roth are two of the six real estate tycoons added to the list. Another newcomer: James Leprino, who built a $1.3 billion fortune supplying cheese to pizza joints Little Caesars and Papa John's.

The year's biggest gainer was casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, whose net worth jumped $8.5 billion on a big bet he's making on the peninsula of Macau, China. Gambling is also the source of wealth for Ruth Parasol and Russell DeLeon, a husband-and-wife team who run their online casino, PartyGaming, from Gibraltar.

For every arrival, there is an exit. Eight members of last year's list died, including Wal-Mart heir John Walton, in a plane crash in June. He is replaced by his wife, Christy.

Thirty-three fortunes simply couldn't keep pace with the rising minimum needed to get on the list, which this year was $900 million, a $150 million jump from 2004. Among the notables on whom the curtain descended: DreamWorks cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg.

With inputs from AP