edited by Jodi Summers
Donald Trump may be the most outspoken real estate billionaire, but he’s not the richest. The 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate had a net worth of $3.7 Billion at election time; in real estate terms, that ties him tied with local developer Rick Caruso at #156 on the Forbes list of billionaires. With Caruso being the 3rd richest local real estate mogul, you’d expect the SoCal real estate players who made the Forbes 400 to be among the country’s richest individuals. You know this men’s club, you’ve met them before, now let’s get reacquainted with California’s richest real estate investors:
Forbes Billionaire List: #27
Net worth: $15.2 billion
As usual, Irvine Company’s Donald Bren of Newport Beach, beat out every other American billionaire in real estate. Bren has a reported net worth of $15.2 billion – all self-made. The Irvine Co chairman commands a portfolio with 110M SF all across SoCal, including 500 office buildings, 40 shopping centers, 50,000 apartments, three hotels and several golf clubs and marinas. In addition, Bren’s extending his reach into Silicon Valley with a 100-acre development in Santa Clara—which includes office campuses, shops and apartments and will be completed in 2019. He also owns 97% of the MetLife Building in Manhattan. Currently, the Irvine Company is involved in the Villas at Playa Vista, one of the biggest new residential construction projects in L.A.
The Irvine Company is to be commended for their charitable work. Bren’s business has donated 55,000 acres of Orange County property for conservation and has pledged $22 Million through 2016 to arts, science and music education.
Forbes Billionaire List: #110
Net worth: $4.9 billion
Edward Roski Jr. serves as president and chairman of the board of Majestic Realty Co, a company his father started in 1948. He is a former Marine Corps officer and has two Purple Hearts. A native of Oklahoma, Rosk is a graduate of USC and chairs its Board of Trustees. This year, Mr. Roski ascends to No. 110 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $4.9 billion.
Majestic, headquartered in Southern California, has a 76.5-million square-foot portfolio scattered throughout the country. The portfolio includes several well-respected properties including Majestic Airport Center Dallas-Fort Worth, Mountain Grove at Citrus Plaza in Redlands, CA as well as additional industrial, office, and retail space, as well as sports, entertainment and hospitality projects.
The company recently broke ground on a 239,400 SF warehouse and manufacturing/production facility for Melmarc at the former Sunkist factory at 752 Campus Ave in Ontario.
Not only is Roski committed to real estate, he is also known as a philanthropist, launching the Majestic Realty Foundation 14 years ago. He sits on the boards of LACMA, the Bowers Museum, the California Science Center, the Natural History Museum of LA County, the LA Sports & Entertainment Commission, and the National Geographic Society. He is the co-owner of both the LA Kings and the Lakers. He is admired for his critical role in getting Staples Center in DTLA.
- Rick Caruso
Forbes Billionaire List: #156
Net worth: $3.7 billion
Perhaps most famous and best appreciated of the SoCal real estate billionaires to those outside the industry is Caruso. Tied with Trump at No. 156, the Grove developer, who lives in Brentwood, boasts a net worth of $3.7 billion. These days, the retail mogul is working on a complete overhaul of downtown Pacific Palisades to create Palisades Village, which will comprise retail buildings, restaurants, a supermarket, a movie theater and a park.
Another mogul to be admired for his philanthropic ventures, the Caruso Family Foundation, is dedicated to supporting organizations that improve the lives of children in need of healthcare and education. In 2013, the Foundation pledged $5 million to Operation Progress, a Watts-based non-profit originally founded by Los Angeles Police Department officers, which will guide more than 200 students from elementary school through college graduation. Caruso serves on the board of Para Los Niños, a nonprofit family and child welfare agency in South Los Angeles. He is a trustee of the University of Southern California, is on the Pepperdine School of Law Board of Visitors and on the Board of Trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. The Caruso Catholic Center and Our Savior Parish Church on the USC campus was endowed by and named after Caruso following his contribution of $9 million. In 2015, Caruso and his wife Tina donated a further $25 million to USC, to endow and name the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, one of the nation’s largest and most highly ranked for research and treatment of diseases of the ear, nose and throat. He sits on the board of the National Institute of Transplantation and is on the Board of Saint John’s Hospital and The California Medical Center Foundation.
Caruso was named by the Los Angeles Business Journal as “Developer of the Year” and its 2012 Ernst & Young LLP Master Entrepreneur of the Year.
- Donald Sterling
Forbes Billionaire List: #190
Net worth: $3.4 billion
Donald Sterling, the controversial former owner of the L.A. Clippers, lands at No. 190 on the list, Sterling has a net worth of $3.4 billion. Sterling amassed his fortune over several decades. He got started when he purchased a 26-unit apartment building in Beverly Hills. He then purchased Lesser Towers, a pair of large apartment buildings in Westwood and renamed them the Sterling Towers (now the Sterling International Towers). His portfolio now spans from the Westside to Koreatown in L.A. as well as Orange County, San Diego and Las Vegas.
In August 2014, Sterling was forced to seller the basketball team he owned to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. You remember, Sterling gained notoriety due to racist remarks he made in 2014 in relation to the L.A. Clippers, the evolution of struggling San Diego-based NBA team he bought in 1981 for $12.5 million.
Forbes Billionaire List: #335
Net worth: $2.1 billion
George Argyros made his fortune in real estate investments as chairman and CEO of Arnel & Affiliates, which manages about 5,500 apartments and more than two million square feet of commercial space in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County. He started his business career running a grocery store and moved on to buying and selling real estate to gas stations.
His Argyros Foundation gives to various causes in Southern California, including the South Coast Repertory, the Eisenhower Medical Center Foundation and Argyros’ alma mater, Chapman University – his name is all over Chapman. In 2011, he and his wife gave $5 million to University of California, Irvine’s Gavin Herbert Eye Institute.
His illustrious career includes owning the Seattle Mariners baseball team from 1981 to 1989. As well as a stint as Ambassador to Spain and Andorra under President George W. Bush.