May 2, 2011 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Who secretly, and LEGALLY, has amassed the most wealth?

Kennedys and Rockefellers, their wealth also came with the curse of famous-for-being-wealthy. Forbes 400 and Forbes 500 and Forbes 1000 lists make it their business to "suss out" the fortunes of others. But, who has made the most money largely in perfect privacy?

I'm thinking about stuff like the grandma who died and it was discovered that somehow she owned Ty Inc. and had earned several billions of dollars without anyone knowing. Or, those unknown owners of UPS and ETS (fabulously wealthy private companies). Any other examples?
posted by shipbreaker to Work & Money (4 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The Cargill family
posted by jchaw at 2:05 PM on May 2, 2011

One of the sources for the wikipedia page linked to by jchaw may be of interest: a Forbes article on "The Richest People You've Never Heard Of."
posted by wuzandfuzz at 2:12 PM on May 2, 2011

A guy you never really hear about very often is Donald Bren, who owns a great deal of Orange County, California, and is the wealthiest real estate developer in the U.S.

To a very real extent, Donald Bren defined the Southern California model of a "planned community," which was copied in many other places.

He's a big philanthropist, but you don't hear about him often.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:49 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Most fairly rich people also have fairly low profiles, especially if you're judging on the basis of national exposure. I think I recognize about 5% of the names on a typical list of attendees to the kind of political fundraisers that cost $50k/plate, for instance. An example of someone who has a low profile but whose wealth is no secret: Les Wexner, who I never hear about outside of finance/Columbus circles. Per Wikipedia/Forbes, there are 1,210 billionaires in the world; I doubt I can name twenty of them with any great confidence. It looks like Forbes couldn't get a photo of about half a dozen of the first 100 people on that list.
posted by SMPA at 3:40 PM on May 2, 2011

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