July 28, 2014

The Aspen 50: billionaires of Pitkin County

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ASPEN, 2014 – There are now more than 1,600 billionaires in the world, and at least fifty of them have stakes in the Aspen area — primarily through their ownership of real estate in Pitkin County.

Aspen’s billionaires came to their fortunes in many ways. They are tech wizards, oil and gas tycoons, real estate moguls, financiers, and producers of everyday stuff. Their collective net worth totals more than $335 billion, and the value of their real estate in the Aspen area is at least $750 million.

And many of them have grown substantially richer of late. (Also see, from 2012) “The Aspen 50 – Forbes billionaires in Pitkin County.”)

Aspen’s wealthiest men and the world’s sixth richest, brothers Charles and David Koch, for example, are worth $6 billion more than they were a year ago — and a mind-boggling $17 billion more than in 2012.

Each of their fortunes, at $41.6 billion, is greater than the GDP of more than half of the world’s countries.

While many fly well below the local radar, most of these billionaires do have an impact on Aspen, through their investments in luxury estates and their often-generous donations to local nonprofits.

On the other hand, the second-home industry and escalating property values have replaced once vibrant Aspen neighborhoods with blocks of large, lifeless houses; marred once-pristine landscapes; exacerbated traffic congestion, and pollution; and driven many locals down or out of the valley.

Moneyed power is often blamed for Aspen’s growth struggles, and some locals feel that wealth culture has become the dominant culture in Aspen. But whether welcomed or shunned, at least fifty of the world’s überwealthy are indeed members of the Aspen community.

Here, then, are the Aspen 50 for 2014: the fifty wealthiest people in the world with property in Pitkin County — and there are almost certainly more than those who appear on our list.

Aspen Journalism produced the Aspen 50 list in collaboration with Aspen Sojourner, using public property records to verify the billionaires’ stakes in the Aspen community.

All but three people on this year’s Aspen 50 list are on the 2014 Forbes World’s Billionaires list.

Two are listed as billionaires by the Los Angeles Business Journal, but not by Forbes.

And the Crown family, owners of the Aspen Skiing Company and multiple local homes, are on Forbes’ new list of America’s Richest Families.

Aspen Journalism produced the first “Aspen 50” list in 2012 collaboration with the Aspen Business Journal. On that original list but not on the 2014 list, for various reasons, are Phillip Anschutz, Frank Fertitta, Daniel Gilbert, James Jannard, Peter Lewis and Mark Pincus.

New this year to the list are Andreas von Bechtolsheim, the Crown family, Michael Eisner, Marc Nathanson, Hasso Plattner, Howard Schultz, and Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer.

Property values listed are from the county assessor’s most recent valuation period, which reflects the market as of June 30, 2012, and formed the basis for property tax bills for 2013 and 2014.

The billionaires’ net worths, which Forbes now tracks daily, are listed as estimated by Forbes on June 9, 2014, and in May 2014 by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

RankName/Net worth NotesDocumentation
Charles Koch

$41.6 billion
Source of wealth: Koch Industries, energy, agricultural materials, and pulp and paper.
Stake in Aspen: $5.9 million West End home.
Notes: Charles Koch has quietly enjoyed Aspen for decades. Although his wife Liz told the Wichita Eagle in 2012 that skiing with him with for 25 years was about "flying down mountains, staring at the back of his head, feeling terrified."
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David Koch

$41.6 billion
Source of wealth: Koch Industries, etc.
Stake in Aspen: Two West End homes together valued at $12.8 million.
Notes: Koch, with his brother Charles, has tried to reshape the American political landscape. He's an Aspen Institute board member and his name is on a building there. Koch once tried to build the city a skating rink on top of Wagner Park, but now he mainly slides under the Aspen radar.
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Jeff Bezos

$30.2 billion
Source of wealth: Amazon.
Stake in Aspen: His parents $16.5 million home in Pitkin Green.
Notes: Bezos’s parents, Jackie and Miguel, own a 10,600-square-foot home where their close-knit family gathers. They also sponsor the popular Bezos Scholars Program at the Aspen Ideas Festival/Aspen Institute.
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Michael Dell

$18.5 billion
Source of wealth: Dell, Inc.
Stake in Aspen: His father’s $9.5 million Red Mountain home.
Notes: Dell, like Jeff Bezos, doesn’t actually own an Aspen home; his father does. But his local stake includes, through his MSD Capital investment firm, an interest in the Related Cos, which has extensive holdings in Snowmass Village. He was a regular at Forstmann Little conferences in Aspen.
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John Paulson

$13.5 billion
Source of wealth: Hedge funds.
Stake in Aspen: $52.6 million Starwood estate.
Notes: Paulson vacationed in Aspen for 25 years before buying a home here, according to his spokesman, who added that Paulson plans to “reduce the scale of” the 56,000 square-foot main house on the Starwood estate he bought in 2012 from Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia.
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Richard Kinder

$9.8 billion
Source of wealth: Energy pipelines.
Stake in Aspen: $10.8 million riverfront home in Woody Creek.
Notes: Kinder Morgan, which services the Roaring Fork Valley with natural gas, claims to be the fourth-largest North American energy company, with 82,000 miles of pipelines. Cofounder Richard Kinder was once president of Enron, under the late Ken Lay, another prominent local homeowner.
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Roman Abramovich

$9.5 billion
Source of wealth: Steel, investments.
Stake in Aspen: Two Snowmass homes together worth $29.2 million.
Notes: The once-wealthiest man in Russia (now 14th) also has homes in London, St. Barts, Sardinia, France, and New York (a $75 million Fifth Avenue mansion), plus the world’s largest yacht, a Boeing 767, the Chelsea soccer team—and seven children. But he's pretty low-key in Aspen.
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Hasso Plattner

$8.5 billion
Source of wealth: Software.
Stake in Aspen: Two homes on Red Mountain valued at $19.3 million.
Notes: Plattner is a sports enthusiast who, according to Forbes, likes to ski and snowboard. He’s also pledged to give away half his fortune to philanthropic causes.
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Leonard Lauder

$8.4 billion
Source of wealth: Estee Lauder.
Stake in Aspen:Four West End properties collectively worth $19.8 million.
Notes: Lauder, who last year donated his $1 billion Cubism collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also collects vintage skiing posters. In 2011, he lectured at the Aspen Institute (he is a trustee) on the "art of the poster" to launch his exhibit there.
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Richard DeVos

$7.3 billion
Source of wealth: Amway.
Stake in Aspen: A ski-in, ski-out home in Snowmass Village worth $4.4 million.
Notes: DeVos, who co-founded Amway in high school, and his wife, Helen, are donors to the Aspen Music Festival and School, as well as conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
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The Crown Family

$7.3 billion
Source of wealth: Inherited, investments.
Stake in Aspen: Aspen Skiing Company, multiple residential properties.
Notes: Besides the four Aspen/Snowmass ski areas, the Crown family’s investments include defense contractor General Dynamics, the New York Yankees, Chicago Bulls, and Rockefeller Center. Jim Crown, oversees SkiCo and is vice-chair of the Aspen Institute board of trustees. His wife Paula, an artist, infuses art into SkiCo facilities.
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Graeme Hart

$7 billion
Source of wealth: Packaging (including Reynolds Wrap.
Stake in Aspen: McLain Flats mansion worth $16.4 million.
Notes: The richest New Zealander, he dropped out of school at 16 and once drove a tow truck. He also “snaffled” (got a great deal on) his Aspen home, according to New Zealand’s National Business Review. He bought the estate in February 2011 for $16 million; it was once listed for $32 million.
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Jeffrey Hildebrand

$6.3 billion
Source of wealth: Oil and gas.
Stake in Aspen: Multiple properties in downtown Aspen and Snowmass Creek valley collectively worth over $20 million.
Notes: In 2012, Hildebrand built a polo field on his Snowmass Creek estate, telling Pitkin County it was a just very level hay field. In 2013, he bought the neighboring Windstar property, first preserved by the late John Denver, for $8.5 million. In June, he caught the attention of Pitkin County officials with a large late-night fireworks display.
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Leslie Wexner

$5.8 billion
Source of wealth: Retail (including Victoria's Secret).
Stake in Aspen: $28.5 million Red Mountain estate.
Notes: The "bra billionaire" stirred up heated debate around a federal land swap to privatize land around his 3,900-acre estate near Mount Sopris in exchange for making public other holdings that have recreational value. The BLM approved the deal in June.
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Stanley Kroenke

$5.7 billion
Source of wealth: Sports, real estate.
Stake in Aspen: Adjoining Red Mountain properties, an Aspen Mountain townhome, and a commercial building on Galena Street—total value of $28.7 million.
Notes: Kroenke, who made the most expensive Aspen real estate purchase of 2011, got rich partially by developing shopping centers anchored by Walmarts — after marrying Walmart heiress Ann Walton (see no. 18). He’s also America’s eighth-largest private landowner, according to Forbes.
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Stephen Ross

$5.7 billion
Source of wealth: Real estate.
Stake in Aspen: Base Village and other Snowmass Village properties.
Notes: Ross, founder head of New York's Related Companies, got his start as a tax attorney. His knowledge of tax law helped him build his fortune by developing federally subsidized affordable housing. Many in Snowmass would like to see his expertise applied to finishing Base Village.
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Ken Griffin

$5.2 billion
Source of wealth: Citadel hedge funds.
Stake in Aspen: Home at base of Tiehack worth $8.5 million.
Notes: Griffin, who gets invited to the Crown family's Aspen parties, is politically fickle. In 2008, he raised an estimated $200,000 for Obama's presidential campaign: four years later, he backed a Karl Rove super PAC.
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Ann Walton Kroenke

$5 billion
Source of wealth: Walmart
Stake in Aspen: Four properties worth $28.7 million.
Notes: In a perfect billionaire love story, Ann Walton met her husband. Stan Kroenke, on a ski trip to Aspen. Sometimes she's worth more than he is, currently (see no. 15). In mid-2014, Ann's net worth was $700 million less.
See notes for Stanley Kroenke, no. 15.
Bruce Halle

$4.9 billion
Source of wealth: Discount Tire
Stake in Aspen: 600-acre Wildcat Ranch estte valued at $31.6 million.
Notes: Bruce and Diane Halle have supported local nonprofits, including the Aspen Institute (endowing the Halle Scholarship program with $400,000), the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and the now defunct Aspen Valley (Medical) Foundation.
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Daniel Ziff

$4.8 billion
Source of wealth: Investments, inheritance (Ziff-Davis publishing).
Stake in Aspen: A $44 million collection of local property, including four homes in Starwood.
Notes: Daniel is the youngest of three Ziff brothers, heirs of a family publishing empire and investors with ties to fellow Aspen residents and hedge funders Daniel Och and Edward Lampert.
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Dirk Ziff

$4.8 billion
Source of wealth: Investments, inheritance (Ziff-Davis publishing).
Stake in Aspen: A $44 million collection of local property, including four homes in Starwood.
Notes: The eldest Ziff brother, Dirk is married to a former Forbes reporter. In striking out on his own (the brothers split up their hedge fund), he is reportedly backing a sports agency founded by Roger Federer.
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Robert Ziff

$4.8 billion
Source of wealth: Investments, inheritance (Ziff-Davis publishing).
Stake in Aspen: A $44 million collection of local property, including four homes in Starwood.
Notes: Robert Ziff, the middle brother, has contributed to Republican legislators supportive of gay marriage.
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John Sobrato

$4.7 billion
Source of wealth: Real estate.
Stake in Aspen: Controls seven Timbers Club units worth $11.6 million
Notes: Sobrato’s Silicon Valley real estate firm owns 7.5 million square feet of commercial space, with tenants including Apple and Yahoo. The Sobrato family recently took the Giving Pledge.
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William Koch

$4 billion
Source of wealth: Oil, investments.
Stake in Aspen: Four proper-ties in upper Castle Creek Valley, including the former Elk Mountain Lodge, worth $36.6 million.
Notes: David Koch’s less wealthy twin owns a coal mine near Paonia, two hours from Aspen, as well as an energy company that is a significant player in the region’s natural gas industry. He has caught the attention of many in Ponia by building a faux Western town and proposing a federal land swap that locals claim will block access to public lands.
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Gustavo Cisneros

$4 billion
Source of wealth: Media.
Stake in aspen: $13.7 million compound at base of Shadow Mountain.
Notes: One of Latin America’s most powerful businessmen, Cisneros sold Univision — a small portion of his media and entertainment empire - to a private equity consortium led by Haim Saban, a fellow Aspen 50 homeowner (see no. 30), for $13.7 billion in 1997.
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Andreas von Bechtolsheim

$4 billion
Source of wealth: Google
Stake in Aspen:Two homes on Red Mountain together worth $14.5 million.
Notes: An early Google investor whose shares are now worth $2 billion, von Bechtolsheim developed the SUN Workstation and co-founded Sun Microsystems with Bill Joy, whose Aspen home he bought in 1999.
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Daniel Och

$3.8 billion
Source of wealth: Hedge funds.
Stake in Aspen: $16 million home on lower Red Mountain
Notes: The CEO of Och-Ziff Capital Management, one of the world’s only publicly traded hedge-fund firms, with assets of over $41 billion, got his start at Goldman Sachs with fellow Aspen homeowner Edward Lampert, then struck out on his own with a reported $100 million in seed money from the Ziff brothers (see nos. 20, 21 & 22).
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J. Christopher Reyes

$3.8 billion
Source of wealth: Food and beer distribution.
Stake in Aspen: $21.6 million home near Buttermilk.
Notes: Reyes’s $22 billion distribution company moves more beer than any other distributor in the country. A Chicagoan, he attended Lester Crown’s Fourth of July party on Aspen Mountain last year.
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Stewart and Linda Resnick

$3.5 billion
Source of wealth: Agriculture, Pom, Fiji water.
Stake in Aspen: $15.5 million home east of Aspen.
Notes: The Resnicks made headlines when the Aspen Institute proposed — but public outcry quashed—putting their name on Paepcke Auditorium after the family’s donation to renovate the landmark building. Aspen Valley Hospital will name a new emergency department for the Resnicks after a recent gift.
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Haim Saban

$3.4 billion
Source of wealth: Television
Stake in aspen: $6.4 million home near the Aspen Club.
Notes: Owner of the fifth-largest U.S. television network — Univision — Saban’s first hit was the children’s show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He also has the Paul Frank brand, whose cartoon Julius the Monkey adorns clothing, accessories, and other products.
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John Doerr

$3.3 billion
Source of wealth: Venture capital.
$11.6 million home on Hunter Creek.
Notes: An investor in Google, Facebook, and others, the Aspen Institute trustee was a founding funder of Aspen nonprofit For the Forest, which targeted beetle-infested lodgepole pines on Smuggler Mountain — Doerr’s backyard.
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Ed Lampert

$3.2 billion
Source of wealth: Hedge funds.
Stake in Aspen: $14.5 million Starwood home.
Notes:Chummy with fellow Aspen homeowners and finance men Daniel Och and the Ziff brothers, Lampert’s highest-profile investments were Kmart and Sears (He is CEO of the latter, which actually used to have an outlet in Aspen.)
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Thomas Pritzker

$3.1 billion
Source of wealth: Hyatt hotels, investments.
Stake in Aspen: $11.4 million Maroon Creek home.
Notes: One of 11 members of the Pritzker family on the Forbes billionaires list, the cousin of Penny Pritzker (see no. 38) is in an ongoing feud with a neighbor who wants to build a home squarely in an avalanche path—and blocking Pritzker’s views. His wife, Margot, is an Aspen Institute trustee.
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David Bonderman

$2.7 billion
Source of wealth: Private equity.
Stake in Aspen: Wildcat estate and nearby land together worth $30.4 million.
Notes: “Bondo,” a major Democratic donor, flies his Aspen pals to Las Vegas for milestone birthdays — he hired the Rolling Stones to play his 60th birthday party there and Paul McCartney for his 70th.
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Neil Bluhm

$2.6 billion
Source of wealth: Real estate,casinos.
Stake in Aspen: $21.5 million Red Mountain mansion.
Notes: The Chicago lawyer turned real estate investor and casino owner hosted President Obama’s 49th birthday and has funded several Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton.
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William Wrigley, Jr.

$2.5 billion
Source of wealth: Chewing gum.
Stake in Aspen: Luxury compound overlooking Rio Grande Trail worth $34.2 million.
Notes:The fourth-generation gum manufacturer, who left the
family firm in 2011 “to pursue philanthropic interests,” according to Forbes, got married in Aspen in 2007 to his second wife, Heather Ann Rosbeck.
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Mortimer Zuckerman

$2.5 billion
Source of wealth: Real estate, media.
Stake in Aspen: Red Mountain home worth $5.6 million.
Notes: The owner and publisher of New York Daily News
and U.S. News & World Report (and editor of the latter), Zuckerman is one of several Aspen residents who was ripped off by Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. He also, according to Wikipedia, enjoys spelunking and hunting for buried treasure.
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Penny Pritzker

$2.4 billion
Source of wealth: Hotels,investments.
Stake in Aspen: Finishing a new house on a $9.5 million property in the Castle Creek valley.
Notes: Commerce Secretary Pritzker, currently the highest-ranked political appointee on the Aspen 50 list, is finishing a new home on her Castle Creek property. She was national finance chairwoman for Obama’s 2008 campaign and a key fundraiser in his re-election.
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Ed Bass

$2.2 billion
Source of wealth: Oil and gas, investments.
Stake in Aspen: A home east of Aspen and an Aspen Club condo, together worth $5.7 million.
Notes: Bass backed the self-contained living experiment Biosphere 2 with $200 million and is devoted to using native grasses on his ranches. In Aspen, he won approval to dredge a portion of the Roaring Fork River fronting his home in order to improve trout habitat and help stem erosion.
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Herbert Simon

$2.1 billion
Source of wealth: Real estate.
Stake in Aspen: A $5.9 million Mountain Queen condo.
Notes: The owner of Simon Property Group, the largest publicly traded real estate investment trust in the country, owns a relatively modest home, by Aspen standards, a 3,000-square-foot condo that he bought for $1 million in 1997.
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Howard Schultz

$2.1 billion
Source of wealth: Starbucks.
Stake in Aspen: $17.2 million home on lower Smuggler Mountain.
Notes: Raised in Brooklyn housing projects, the man who took Starbucks public paid $20 million for his Aspen house in 2011. The progressive executive also has investments in Lululemon, eBay, and Groupon.
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Paul Singer

$1.5 billion
Source of wealth: Hedge funds/distressed debt investing.
Stake in Aspen: Two homes in Two Creeks in Snowmass Village, together worth $12.7 million.
Notes: A major Republican donor, Singer backed Mitt Romney to the tune of at least $1 million in 2011 and hosted a meeting of Republican funders in Aspen this past winter. He was also a major sponsor of the 2011 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village.
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Dan Wilks

$1.5 billion.
Source of wealth: Natural gas.
Stake in Aspen: Two Aspen homes, total value of $11.1 million.
Notes: The son of a man who once housed the family in a goat shed, Dan and his brother Farris (see no. 44) did well with the family masonry business before turning to fracking. He bought his two Aspen homes around the time the brothers set off on a real estate buying spree that includes massive ranches across the west.
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Farris Wilks

$1.5 billion
Source of wealth: Natural gas.
Stake in Aspen $12.2 million home in The Pines in Snowmass Village.
Notes: Wilks bought the priciest ski-accessible home in Snowmass Village just one month after he and brother Dan sold their combined interest in their fracking company, Frac Tech, for $3.5 billion. Still the pastor of his hometown church, Wilks needs a big home — he has 11 children.
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Michael Eisner

$1.5 billion.
Source of wealth: Entertainment
Stake in Aspen: Owns a $10 million estate on Snowmass Creek.
Notes: The former chief of Disney had a lengthy, high-profile entertainment career before founding his investment company, Tornante, in 2005. The name, inspired by a cycling trip in the Italian mountains, means hairpin turn. An Aspen Institute trustee, Eisner is, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal, one of the 50 wealthiest Angelenos. Oddly, he isn’t ranked on the Forbes rich lists.
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Christopher Kit Goldsbury

$1.4 billion
Source of wealth: Salsa
Stake in Aspen: A $14.9 million property in lower Castle Creek.
Notes: The Pace salsa king was a plaintiff in a lawsuit aimed at blocking a City of Aspen hydropower plant that would have diverted water from the creek that runs past his property, where Goldsbury has water rights. He also once spent $20 million to tear down just-built condos at the Aspen Meadows, which were overlooking his property.
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Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer

$1.3 billion
Source of wealth: Inherited, cosmetics.
Stake in Aspen: $4.36 million Mountain Valley home.
Notes: The niece of Leonard Lauder (see no. 9), Zinterhofer, who launched her own epony- mous lifestyle brand in 2012, apparently wanted a simple Aspen home. “She chose to avoid the billionaire neighborhoods like Red Mountain and go for something more local and low-key,” her interior designer told Vogue.
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Dan Snyder

$1.2 billion
Source of wealth: Marketing, private equity, Washington Redskins.
Stake in Aspen: $14.42 million home near Buttermilk.
Notes: A college dropout who made his first million at age 20 marketing to college students, Snyder’s private jet can be easily identified at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport — it sports the controversial logo of the Washington Redskins, the third most valuable NFL team, which Snyder bought in 1999.
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Marc Nathanson

$1.3 billion
Source of wealth: Communications, real estate, art.
Stake in Aspen: Owns a $7.6 million home in Aspen.
Notes: Nathanson, like Michael Eisner, doesn’t appear on Forbes’ rich lists, but is one of L.A.’s wealthiest citizens, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal. The former cable company executive is an Aspen Institute trustee and his board bio notes that “he and his wife, Jane, reside in Los Angeles and Aspen.”
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Evengy (Eugene) Shvidler

$1.1 billion
Source of wealth: Oil and gas, investments.
stake in Aspen: $6.8 million Two Creeks home.
Notes: Russian-born Shvidler became a U.S. citizen in 1994 before returning to Russia to go into business with best buddy Roman Abramovich (see no. 7). Both bought homes in Snowmass in 2008, but Shvidler’s primary residence is now in England.
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Summer in Aspen, where it is almost difficult not to have a nice day.

Jeremy Swanson / Aspen Skiing Co.

Summer in Aspen, where it is almost difficult not to have a nice day.

Power Trio: the Koch brothers

Although the Koch brothers are collectively known for their conservative politics, each has a somewhat different relationship to Aspen.

Charles, who is CEO of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the country, with sales of $115 billion, was an avid skier until his knees gave out.

David, who used to throw elaborate holiday parties at his Aspen home, is a trustee of the Aspen Institute, where a building bears his name.

Bill is perhaps the most high profile locally. He has made headlines for:

being a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city of Aspen over its desire to use Castle and Maroon Creek water for hydropower;

buying — and now trying to sell, for $90 million — the former Elk Mountain Lodge in the upper Castle Creek Valley, a 32,500-square-foot compound used for weddings and corporate events that he converted into a 15-bedroom single-family home; and

suing his interior designer for not properly decorating the home in a western theme.

Perhaps Bill is retreating to his Paonia ranch in Gunnison County, where he re-created an Old West town.

But Aspen is not simply a vacation retreat for the Kochs.

Charles and David, who hold twice-yearly meetings for like-minded, ultra-wealthy investors who are politically active in the brothers’ conservative agenda, hosted one such gathering at the St. Regis in 2010. Attendees included fellow Aspen billionaires Ken Griffin and Richard DeVos.

Yes, some of Aspen's billionaires are actually in Snowmass. And for good reason.

Jeremy Swanson / Aspen Skiing Co.

Yes, some of Aspen's billionaires are actually in Snowmass. And for good reason.

Class Actors: the Lauders

Aspen has long been a retreat for the heirs of cosmetics queen Estée Lauder — a stylish and well-liked family that has been part of Aspen society and philanthropic circles since the 1970s.

Son Leonard Lauder, 81, has owned a family compound in the West End for years. After Leonard’s wife, Evelyn, died in November 2012, the family made a substantial gift to Aspen Valley Hospital, where the new Evelyn H. Lauder Patient Care Pavilion, with sixteen private patient rooms, is named for her. (Evelyn’s photos of the Aspen area are also on display at the hospital).

Leonard’s son Gary, a venture capitalist who also owns a home here,
co-created the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Society, and Gary’s wife, Laura, sits on the Aspen Institute board, a role formerly occupied by Leonard (who was recently made a lifetime trustee).

Leonard’s niece Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer — a newcomer to the Forbes World’s Billionaires list — bought her own Aspen pad in 2009, a 5,500-square-foot home in Mountain Valley, where, according to Vogue, she likes to
lounge about in Sorel boots and men’s flannel shirts.

“We love to grab pastries from the most amazing place called Paradise Bakery,” she told the magazine in 2011.

On any given winter morning Aspen is still a highly attractive ski town, for both busboys and billionaires.

Brent Gardner-Smith / Aspen Journalism

On any given winter morning Aspen is still a highly attractive ski town, for both busboys and billionaires.

Aspen’s First Family: the Crowns

Chicago’s Lester Crown fell off Forbes’s rich lists because he spread his wealth among his seven children. Yet the Crown family recently made Forbes’s inaugural list of America’s Richest Families, placing 35th with a fortune of $7.3 billion, up from $4 billion in 2011.

The owners of the Aspen Skiing Company have a huge local impact — employing 3,600 people at the height of the ski season, running the Little Nell and Limelight hotels, and providing support to many nonprofits.

Henry Crown (1886–1990), Lester’s father and the son of a sweatshop worker, built the family fortune with a sand and gravel company and is the namesake of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship, a leadership-building program.

Several Crown family members own homes in the Aspen area, including Lester and his wife, Renee, Jim (Aspen SkiCo managing partner and Aspen Institute vice chairman), his wife, Paula, and Steve and Susan. But their politics sometimes differ sharply.

Lester was an early Obama supporter, and Jim and Paula were big fundraisers for the presidential candidate in 2008 and have also hosted Michelle Obama at their slopeside Buttermilk home. Susan Crown, on the other hand, supported Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, heading up his Illinois finance committee.

Aptly, a Rolls was the first car parked at the Romney fundraiser at Susan Crown's house in July 2012.

Brent Gardner-Smith / Aspen Journalism

Aptly, a Rolls was the first car parked at the Romney fundraiser at Susan Crown\’s house in July 2012.

The Developers

While Stephen Ross doesn’t appear to have any personal holdings here, his $15 billion Related Companies, which most notably developed the Time Warner Center, came to town in 2007 to develop Base Village and other Snowmass Village properties.

Just as Related lost control of Base Village through foreclosure during the economic downtown, Ross became 95 percent owner of the Miami Dolphins in 2009 in a $1.1 billion deal.

A subsidiary of Related bought back Base Village in 2012 and is expected to soon begin the land-use process to determine how to complete it.

Other billionaires with Aspen ties who made it rich through real estate include John Sobrato, Mortimer Zuckerman, Herbert Simon, and Neil Bluhm.

Digital Billionaires

Aspen has been home to some big moments in digital history, including Bill Joy (who is noticeably absent from Forbes’s rich lists) working on the Java programming language in Aspen and talking about it in the gondola with John Doerr, a venture capitalist inves- tor in internet companies who also has a home here.

One of Joy’s partners at Sun Microsystems, Andreas von Bechtolsheim, bought Joy’s home on Red Mountain in 1999. Also on Red Mountain is Germany’s Hasso Plattner, cofounder of the third- largest software company in the world, SAP.

Snow along Owl Creek Road on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

Jeremy Swanson / Aspen Skiing Co.

Snow along Owl Creek Road on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

Hedge Funders

As the hedge fund industry has grown, so has that sector’s stake in Aspen. One of the highest-profile of the lot, John Paulson is a former Bear Stearns executive who struck out on his own and became a billionaire by betting against the sub-prime mortgage sector in 2007.

During the downturn, even as his net worth took a $3 billion hit, Paulson made a splash when he bought a $24.5 million house on McLain Flats — but then he doubled down and bought Prince Bandar’s massive estate for $49 million, making worldwide news.

Others who have invested in Aspen have made less of a splash: Ken Griffin, Paul Singer, the Ziff brothers, Daniel Och, and Edward Lampert.

Team Owners

It’s only logical that the Sports Leadership Institute has held its Global Sports Summit in Aspen for the past four years, as several major sports franchise owners have homes here.

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, whose refusal to change the name of the team continues to stir up controversy, spends a lot of his summers in Aspen, as do his mother and sister, according to a 2006 Washingtonian magazine profile.

Stanley Kroenke oversees a diverse sports empire — St. Louis Rams (football), Colorado Avalanche (hockey), Denver Nuggets (basketball), and Colorado Rapids (soccer), and is majority shareholder of the Arsenal Football Club (soccer) in England.

Other Aspen-homeowning billionaire sports team owners/investors include Richard DeVos (Orlando Magic), Stephen Ross (Miami Dolphins), Herbert Simon (Indiana Pacers), Hasso Plattner (San Jose Sharks), Roman Abramovich (Chelsea Football Club), the Crown family (New York Yankees and Chicago Bulls), and Gustavo Cisneros (Leones del Caracas baseball team).

Penny Pritzker, left, with Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival.

Jordan Curet / Aspen Daily News

Penny Pritzker, left, with Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival.

The Women

Women make up approximately 10 percent of the Forbes 400 and Forbes World’s Billionaires lists, but Aspen billionaire women are even fewer. Just four of the fifty billionaires on this list — 8 percent — are women. And all either inherited their wealth or built it with a husband.

It’s a small but interesting group: a highly ranked government official — Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker — marketing innovator Lynda Resnick, Walmart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke, and style maven Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer, who is literally making a name for herself with her Aerin brand of beauty products, fashion accessories, and home décor.

Jets at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport in July, 2014.

Brent Gardner-Smith / Aspen Journalism

Jets at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport in July, 2014.

The Local Oligarchs

Best friends and business partners from Russia, Roman Abramovich and Evgeny Shvidler are also both Snowmass Village residents.

Abramovich paid $36.3 million for his Wildcat estate in 2008, the second – highest amount ever paid for an Aspen-area home. A few months later, Shvidler paid $14.5 million for a home that caught his eye in Two Creeks — it wasn’t for sale, but the homeowner was persuaded to sell for double what he had paid for it.

Abramovich and Shvidler have been in business together since the early 1990s. They founded an oil-trading firm and then took over major Russian oil producer Sibneft during the era of privatization of Soviet state assets, later selling their stakes for billions.

It eventually came to light that Abramovich had secured the business through bribes, according to the Times of London. Abramovich, who owns multiple homes and toys, gave Shvidler — who has a chateau and vineyard in France, among other properties—a 370-foot yacht.

In Aspen, they’ve been low-key, but recently attended the groundbreaking of Chabad Jewish Community Center on Main Street.

An Aspen investment vehicle, at a recent Aspen Ideas Festival at the Aspen Institute, where a number of Aspen's billionaires are on the board of trustees.

Brent Gardner-Smith / Aspen Journalism

An Aspen investment vehicle, at a recent Aspen Ideas Festival at the Aspen Institute, where a number of Aspen\’s billionaires are on the board of trustees.

The Gasmen

Aspen has a fair share of billionaire homeowners who have struck it rich from energy interests. Richard Kinder’s baby, Kinder Morgan, is the fourth-largest energy company in North America, worth nearly $34 billion. It’s made multi-billion-dollar acquisitions in recent years, banking on future shale development to create massive demand for its pipelines.

Houston oil magnate Jeffrey Hildebrand struck it big in 2011 with a $100 million investment into Texas oil shale that resulted in a $3.5 billion sale to Marathon Oil. His company, Hilcorp, one of the world’s biggest privately owned oil companies, has been investing big in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, the Utica shale of Ohio, and the Gulf Coast region.

The Wilks brothers, Farris and Dan, founded Frac Tech, which provides hydraulic fracturing services for large oil and gas companies. They hit it big when they sold the firm for $3.5 billion in 2011, showing up on the Forbes 400 list and buying their Aspen-area homes around the same time.

Other Aspen homeowners in the oil and gas business include Fort Worth resident Ed Bass, who with his four brothers turned a modest inheritance into a major oil fortune, and the Koch brothers, whose rise to mega-wealth all started with oil refining.

Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism collaborated on this story with Aspen Sojourner, which has asked that it not be re-published per Aspen Journalism’s Creative Commons license until Oct. 24, 2014. In the spirit of the collaboration, Aspen Journalism supports Aspen Sojourners’ request.

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