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Richest US landlords see their wealth surge in 2023

Despite higher interest rates weighing on property prices, the wealth of the richest real estate tycoons in the US continues to skyrocket.

According to Forbes, the nation’s richest landlords are wealthier now than in 2022, with 25 real estate billionaires named on the 2023 Forbes 400.

Together, the top 25 property moguls are worth a collective US$139 billion, or about US$5 billion more than in 2022.

Donald Bren, through his Irvine Company, was named the richest landlord in the US with a net worth of US$18 billion up from US$17.4 billion in 2022.

Bren controls a real estate empire that includes office buildings, apartments and shopping centres across California, as well as a 97.5 per cent stake in the MetLife Building in Manhattan, three office towers in Chicago and two golf courses.

Stephen Ross, founder of the Related Companies, came in second, with a net worth of US$10.1 billion.

His company built the Hudson Yards development in New York, but notably his net worth actually shrank by US$1.5 billion in the past 12 months.

Leonard Stern was the third wealthiest billionaire with a net worth of US$8.1 billion, building his fortune on the back of Hartz Mountain, a firm that owns more than 260 properties—largely industrial properties, plus offices, hotels and apartments.

Stern’s wealth increased an estimated $500 million over the past year.

Igor Olenicoff, who owns office space and over 17,000 residential units came in fourth with a net worth of US$7.7 billion.

Jeff Greene was fifth, with a net worth of US$7.5 billion after making the bulk of his fortune, buying credit default swaps on subprime mortgage-backed bonds during the housing crisis in 2007 and 2008, netting US$800 million. 

He then turned that profit into a portfolio of apartments, condo buildings, hotels and office properties.

Overall there were 25 billionaires who made their fortune in property with two new names entering the top 400 list.

One of the two newcomers to the list who made their money in real estate, Los Angeles-based developer Geoffrey Palmer, largely draws his wealth from residential properties in LA.

The other new entry, Annette Lerner, inherited her late husband Ted Lerner’s fortune, mostly made up of apartments in the Washington, DC area.

Notably, former President Donald Trump dropped off the list for the second time in three years, with much of his wealth tied up in office buildings, which have seen a sharp decline this year.

Topping the overall Forbes 400, was entrepreneur Elon Musk, with a staggering net worth of US$251 billion.

Musk co-founded six companies, including electric car maker Tesla, rocket producer SpaceX and tunnelling startup Boring Company.

The other names at the top of the rich list include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (US$161 billion), cofounder of software giant Oracle, Larry Ellison (US$158 billion) and famed investor Warren Buffett (US$121 billion).

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.