Want To Marry A Billionaire?
Steven Bertoni, Erin Gell & Duncan Greenberg.
Forbes • September 17th, 2008
Thinking about snagging a billionaire to get you through the long nights of a sluggish economy? You’re in luck. This year’s Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in America is loaded with billionaire bachelors.
Twelve members of The Forbes 400 have never been married, and another 115 have been divorced at least once. With billions in the bank, these inventors and entrepreneurs are certain to spare no expense–splurging on lavish gifts, from rides on plush private jets and stays at the finest hotel suites to sipping the most expensive champagnes–in their quests to find “The One.”
By The Numbers: Billionaire Bachelors
One new billionaire bachelor on The Forbes 400 is investor Peter Thiel, who is worth $1.3 billion. Thiel, 40, a former chess prodigy, got his start in Silicon Valley co-founding online financial services company PayPal in 2002. He eventually sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion, keeping $60 million for himself.
With his profits, Thiel invested $500,000 in social networking site Facebook in 2004. The investment paid off last October, when Microsoft agreed to pay $240 million for a 1.6% stake in the site, giving the company a multi-billion dollar valuation.
Thanks in part to Thiel’s investment, the youngest billionaire bachelor on The Forbes 400 is Mark Zuckerberg. The Harvard dropout founded Facebook from his dorm room and moved to Silicon Valley in 2004 to grow his social networking site into the addictive phenomenon it is today. With 100 million users and $300 million in estimated sales, Facebook has given Zuckerberg a $1.5 billion fortune.
But Zuckerberg’s single status doesn’t mean he’s on the market–he is currently linked to fellow Harvard wunderkind and Facebook techie Priscilla Chan.
Another perennial singleton is Beanie Babies found Ty Warner, who transformed warm, stuffed cuties into cold, hard cash. Today the former traveling toy salesman is working on his second toy fortune via Beanie Babies 2.0 and Ty Girlz. He is also a real estate tycoon and owns several plush properties, including the Four Seasons hotel in New York City.
Several members of The Forbes 400 have seen their relationships falter–often more than once. Eleven of the members of The Forbes 400 have been divorced at least three times. Among them is investor Ronald Perelman.
Worth $11.5 billion, Perelman made his fortune on the heels of several shrewd buyouts. At 65 years old, Perelman is single again following a contentious 2006 split from his fourth wife, actress Ellen Barkin. The good news: As with all of his divorces, Perelman had a tremendous prenup.
Dog-loving doctor Gary Michelson made his fortune off medical devices he designed in his garage. His invention for spinal implants brought him big bucks, but it was his victory in a messy intellectual property lawsuit with medical device maker Medtronic in 2005 that provided a $1.4 billion payday.
Today, Michelson is worth $1.5 billion, and spends much of it on philanthropy. “I don’t think I’ve spent one penny of that money,” says Michelson. He’s rich and ready to date: “I’m single and I’m good-looking.”
Additional reporting by Duncan Greenberg.