Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Forbes 400 Richest Americans

America's super rich are getting poorer. For only the fifth time since 1982, the collective net worth of The Forbes 400, our annual tally of the nation's richest people, has declined, falling $300 billion in the past 12 months from $1.57 trillion to $1.27 trillion.

Faltering capital markets and real estate prices, along with divorce and fraud, pushed the fortunes of 314 members down and drove 32 plutocrats off the rankings.

Hurt the most: Warren Buffett, America's second-richest citizen. The Oracle of Omaha dropped $10 billion from his personal balance sheet as shares of Berkshire Hathaway fell 20% in 12 months. He is now worth $40 billion.

Beating out Buffett for the 16th straight year as America's richest man is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Sluggish Microsoft shares and declining outside investments pushed the software visionary's net worth down $7 billion in 12 months.

Rounding out the top 10 on The Forbes 400: Oracle founder Larry Ellison ($27 billion); Wal-Mart ( WMT - news - people ) heirs Christy Walton ($21.5 billion), Jim C. Walton ($19.6 billion), Alice Walton ($19.3 billion), and S. Robson Walton ($19 billion); media maven Michael Bloomberg ($17.5 billion) and energy titans Charles and David Koch ($16 billion each).

The 10 richest Americans lost a combined $39.2 billion in the past 12 months, a 14% decline.

Here are some rankings that you might find interesting:

#97 George Lucas/Steven Spielberg (tie) at $3,000 million each

#141 Oprah Winfrey/Steve Wynn (tie) at $2,300 million each

#183 Five Siblings of S. C. Johnson & Sons at $1,900 million each

Also on the Forbes 400 list is owner of New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts.

Unfortunately, I didn't see my name or yours for that matter, but maybe next year.

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