Top Ten Real Estate Tycoons For 2009

Forbes has announced its 400 richest Americans for 2009, and as expected, real estate tycoons still enjoy many of the top spots. Real estate fortunes have declined in recent years, so these millionaires represent the canniest financial minds in the industry. Here, without further ado, we present the top ten real estate tycoons.

Donald Bren

With a net worth of $12 billion, Donald Bren has earned his place as the top real estate tycoon for 2009. A native of Newport Beach, California, Bren is credited with developing the central Orange County area, and currently owns 475 commercial buildings, 115 apartment complexes and over 40 retail centers. Despite recent real estate industry difficulties, Bren’s net worth has remained stable over the past year.

Richard LeFrak

New York City’s real estate billionaire Richard LeFrak follows in his father’s footsteps in land development in this prestigious and competitive real market. Investments include a combined residential, retail, and commercial development in Newport, New Jersey and 5,000 apartments in Queens. LeFrak’s portfolio has lost value in the last year, but still weighs in at a cool $4 billion.

Paul Milstein

The last year has seen significant losses in Paul Milstein’s financial investments, down from last year to $3.8 billion this year. Milstein Properties owns a number of apartment towers and commercial developments throughout Manhattan that were hard hit by recent economic events; additionally, the acquisition of New York’s Emigrant Bank paid huge dividends in the past, but now may seem like a liability for Milstein’s shrinking portfolio.

Samuel Zell

Even after filing for bankruptcy in December 2008, Samuel Zell remains one of the wealthiest real-estate tycoons in the U.S. with a net worth of $3.8 billion. His international holdings include Brazilian shopping centers, commercial storage and residential properties in China, and housing developments in Egypt; this complements his extensive investments in distressed real estate within the U.S.

Leonard N. Stern

An alumnus of New York University, Leonard Stern made a significant donation to the university that led to the business school that now bears his name. His investments include Edison Towne Square, a mixed-use redevelopment project located on the site of the former New Jersey Ford Plant, and Soho Grand and Tribeca Grand hotels in Manhattan; in total, Stern owns 38 million square feet of property in New York and New Jersey and boasts a net worth of $3.6 billion, making him a force to be reckoned with in the New York real estate world.

Theodore Lerner

Since he founded Lerner Enterprises in 1952 with the help of a loan of $300 from his wife, Theodore Lerner has had the golden touch in real estate in Washington, D.C. His current net worth is $3 billion, down from last year but still an impressive feat. Lerner owns 20 million square feet of commercial and retail space, and recently demonstrated his green credentials by moving his headquarters to a new environmentally-responsible building in Maryland. Lerner is also the owner of the Washington Nationals baseball team.

Stephen Ross

After recent losses, Stephen Ross is looking for international real estate investments to bolster his faltering corporate portfolio. His net worth is $2.9 billion after sustaining significant financial losses on luxury properties in New York City. Ross recently purchased the Miami Dolphins football team for $1 billion.

John A. Sobrato

With his real estate holdings down 30% in value this year John Sobrato is suffering the effects of recent Silicon Valley stagnation. Sobrato Development owns and manages over 7 million square feet of commercial space, with Yahoo and Nvidia as its largest clients.

Donald Trump

While Donald Trump’s celebrity quotient may never have been higher, his real estate fortune certainly has been; it’s down to $2 billion dollars, significantly lower than in previous years. He still owns Trump Tower, but many of the buildings bearing his name actually belong to other developers who pay for the privilege of attaching the Trump name to their properties.

Alan Casden

At $1.85 billion, Alan Casden’s fortune is nothing to sneeze at; it’s down from previous years, however. Based in Beverly Hills, Casden Properties owns over 200,000 square feet of office space and more than 3,000 luxury apartments.