The Aussie real estate magnates among Forbes’ top billionaires

Eight Australian real estate and property development magnates have made Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires List for 2023.

Real estate developer and Meriton founder Harry Triguboff is the highest ranked at number 137 with a net worth of $13.1 billion.

First published in 1987, this year’s list counted more than 2600 10-figure fortunes, with the world’s billionaires now worth $12.2 trillion.

Bernard Arnault, the owner of brands such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, knocked Elon Musk from top spot on the list.

He has a net worth of $211 billion, while Elon Musk is worth $180 billion.

But, for those of you keen to see what the upper echelons of the real estate sector can produce, here are the top Aussies that made their fortune from property.

Harry Triguboff

Ranking: 137

Net worth: $13.1 billion

Born in China, Harry Triguboff came to Australia as a teenager and was educated at Scots College in Sydney before heading to Leeds University in England where he graduated with a degree in textile engineering.

He worked in textiles in Israel and South Africa before returning to Australia, where he owned a taxis fleet and milk runs.

It wasn’t until 1963 that he built his first block of apartments and established Meriton in the process.

Since then, Harry has become Australia’s most successful property developer and has overseen the construction of more than 76,000 residential dwellings.

John Gandel

Ranking: 878

Net worth: $3.3 billion

An Australian businessman and property developer, John Gandel largely made his fortune in the development of commercial real estate and shopping centres.

In the 1950s, John took control of his Polish Immigrant parent’s retail clothing business, Sussan, and helped grow it into a chain of more than 200 shops before selling it to his brother-in-law in the mid ‘80s.

He now owns half of the Chadstone Shopping Centre, which is the largest mall in the Southern Hemisphere with more than 500 shops.

John also maintains one of Australia’s largest charitable funds – Gandel Philanthropy – which donated $1 million to the nation’s bushfire appeal in 2019.

Lang Walker

Ranking: 1312

Net worth: $2.3 billion

Lang Walker is the cofounder and executive chairman of Walker Corp, which owns industrial estates, office towers and residential projects.

Founded with his father Alec in 1964, Walker Corp has delivered more than 1000 projects, including national landmark destinations such as King Street Wharf in Sydney and Collins Square in Melbourne.

The Walker Family Foundation supports a range of charities, including the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

In 2015, Lang was awarded an Order of Australia Officer for his philanthropic efforts.

Bob Ell

Ranking: 1434

Net Worth: $2.1 billion

Bob Ell made his fortune through property development after starting his career as a builder in the 1970s.

He founded the Leda Group in 1976 and for more than 40 years has been active in residential, retail, industrial and commercial property markets, mostly in NSW and Queensland. 

Some of the company’s most notable projects include Trinity Point development on the NSW Central Coast and the Seachange Lifestyle Resorts.

Leda also owns shopping centres in Queensland and Canberra, as well as large-scale land developments comprising more than 12,000 housing blocks. 

Bob briefly listed Leda before taking it private in 1990 and over the years he has developed more than $3 billion worth of property.

Bruce Mathieson

Ranking: 1905

Net worth: $1.5 billion

Pub baron Bruce Mathieson made his fortune in the hospitality industry, starting his career as a hotelier working in his family’s pub in Victoria.

He now operates his poker machine and pub empire ALH Hotels, which is part of Endeavour Group, with venues including hotels, bars and restaurants. 

In March it was revealed Bruce had built up a 9.97 per cent stake in Star Entertainment Group.

He has also invested in banking, mining and real estate over the years and is known for his philanthropic efforts, particularly in healthcare and education.

Terry Snow

Ranking: 1905

Net worth: $1.5 billion

Terry Snow is the executive chairman of Capital Airport Group, which operates the Canberra Airport, after acquiring the 99-year lease from the Australian Government in 1998 for $65 million.

Over the years he has invested more than $2 billion in developing the airport and built office and industrial parks on the surrounding land.

In the residential space, Terry is the owner of Capital Property Group and Capital Estate Developments which is responsible for the master-planned community of Denman Prospect.

Terry also cofounded The Snow Foundation in 1991 and it has grown significantly from an initial commitment of $1 million, to a corpus of $145 million. The foundation has supported community charities, social justice and social change projects as well as minority, vulnerable and neglected groups with its philanthropic endeavours. 

John Van Lieshout

Ranked: 2133

Net worth: $1.3 billion

John Van Lieshout arrived in Australia with his parents and 12 siblings from the Netherlands in 1960.

He is the founder and former owner of the Super A-Mart furniture chain, which he sold for $500 million in 2006, but retained the freehold to some stores.

John now has a large property portfolio, including shopping centres, and he also owns the Unison Projects Group, which has interests in tourism, residential, industrial and commercial assets.

Other members of John’s family have also founded their own businesses, including Chevron and Empire Office Furniture.

Sam Tarascio

Ranked: 2259

Net worth: $1.2 billion

Salvatore ‘Sam’ Tarascio owns a commercial and industrial real estate portfolio in Melbourne, including a large shopping centre, business park and distribution sites.

He got his start in property development after buying swampland and building a warehouse for German pharmaceutical company Hoechst in the 1960s.

He then established Salta Properties, a logistics and industrial-development company, which his eldest son now runs.

  • Figures correct at time of publication.

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