Gates and Buffett Remain Atop the Forbes 400


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Edited by Andrew Ross Sorkin, September 22, 2010, 9:20 pm

Bill Gates
Warren E. Buffett

Once again, Bill Gates is ranked the richest person in the United States, with $9 billion more than Warren E. Buffett. Mr. Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, topped the annual Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans with $54 billion, an increase of $4 billion from last year.

Mr. Buffett, the legendary investor who runs Berkshire Hathaway, easily held on to the No. 2 spot on the Forbes list with $45 billion, and he proved better than Mr. Gates at amassing wealth, gaining $5 billion over last year as the financial crisis ebbed.

Still, the fortunes of Mr. Gates, Mr. Buffett and other billionaires remain noticeably below their levels in 2008, right before the financial crisis reached full force.

This year’s top 10 on the Forbes 400 list included Lawrence J. Ellison of Oracle, who stayed even at No. 3 with $27 billion, and the two Koch brothers, Charles and David, who shared fifth place with $21.5 billion apiece, as they each pulled in gains of $5.5 billion.

Also in the top 10 are four Walton family members — Christy, Jim C., Alice and S. Robson — heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, who had wealth ranging from $19.7 billion to $24 billion and gains ranging from $500 million to $2.5 billion.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York took 10th place with $18 billion, a gain of $500 million. Since most of his wealth is tied up in his company, which develops and markets the seemingly ubiquitous Bloomberg terminals, Mr. Bloomberg has apparently benefited as the financial industry bounced back. But Mr. Bloomberg is no longer the richest person in New York City. That honor goes to David Koch.

Among other Wall Street notables, the financier George Soros ranked No. 14 with $14.2 billion. Another hedge fund manager, John A. Paulson, is No. 20 with $12.4 billion. And the financiers Carl C. Icahn and Ronald O. Perelman tied for 24th place, with $11 billion apiece.

The biggest gainer on the Forbes list was Mark Zuckerberg, a founder of Facebook, whose wealth more than tripled to $6.9 billion, putting him in 35th place.

Among the 34 people who fell off the Forbes list this year is Raj Rajaratnam, the hedge fund manager of the Galleon Group, who has been accused of insider trading and indicted on charges of securities fraud. If convicted, Mr. Rajaratnam could face a sentence of up to 185 years in prison.

As for Mr. Gates, his $54 billion appears to make him the richest person in the world — at least until next Forbes billionaire list comes out. In March, the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú took the top spot in the Forbes rankings of the world’s richest people, with $53.5 billion.

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