The Richest Real Estate Billionaires In America 2023

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Higher interest rates and work-from-home policies may have taken a toll on commercial real estate, but America’s richest property barons are wealthier than they were last year.

By Giacomo Tognini, Forbes Staff


America’s downtowns are struggling, with empty office buildings and shuttered retail weighing down property values in cities across the country. But not everyone is hurting. In fact, the nation’s richest landlords are actually wealthier now than they were in 2022. There are 25 billionaires on the 2023 Forbes 400 list who primarily owe their fortunes to real estate. These property tycoons are worth a collective $139 billion—about $5 billion more than the 24 in real estate were worth on the 2022 ranking.

Despite the doom and gloom in the office sector, apartments are still a hot commodity, with rents rising nearly 3% over the past year. One of the two newcomers to the list who made their money in real estate, Los Angeles-based developer Geoffrey Palmer, largely draws his wealth from residential properties in L.A. The other new entry, Annette Lerner, inherited her late husband Ted Lerner’s (d. February 2023) fortune, mostly made up of apartments in the Washington, D.C. area.

Another winner has been industrial real estate, supercharged by the pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce. That’s been a boon for billionaires with warehouses and logistics facilities, such as Edward Roski, Jr., a developer based in Los Angeles, whose net worth has increased by $1 billion since last year, to an estimated $7.4 billion.

Still, it’s been a rough time for some of America’s real estate tycoons. The best-known of them, Donald Trump, dropped off The Forbes 400 for the second time in three years. Eight others’ net worths fell by a collective $4.6 billion. Many of these big losers, like Trump, have a sizable portion of their wealth tied up in debt-laden office buildings in hard-hit cities such as New York and San Francisco. Fellow New Yorkers Charles Cohen and Jerry Speyer, both of whom have several office towers in Manhattan, saw their fortunes fall by $700 million and $500 million, respectively. The second-richest real estate baron in America—Stephen Ross, founder of the Related Companies, which built the Hudson Yards development in New York—was the biggest real estate loser over the past year. His fortune shrank by an estimated $1.5 billion.

While Ross’ wealth declined, it’s been a good year for Orange County, California-based Donald Bren, who remains the wealthiest real estate billionaire in the U.S. Bren’s net worth is now estimated at $18 billion, up from $17.4 billion in 2022. The biggest gainer, however, is Ty Warner—who created the Beanie Babies plush toys of the 1990s, but has most of his fortune tied up in real estate—boosted in part by rising values for luxury hotels and golf courses, including his Sandpiper club in Santa Barbara. Warner is worth an estimated $5.7 billion. Two real estate billionaires also returned to the list this year: Donald Horton is back after a one-year absence as shares of his publicly traded homebuilder D.H. Horton are up 64% over the past year, and George Argyros, a southern California developer who founded property firm Arnel in 1968, returned after dropping off the list in 2020 thanks to rising retail and residential values in the Golden State.


Here are the 25 real estate billionaires on The Forbes 400:

Net worths are as of September 8, 2023.


Donald Bren

Net worth: $18 billion | Residence: Newport Beach, California

Through his Irvine Company, Bren controls a real estate empire totaling more than 129 million square feet of office buildings, apartments and shopping malls across California, as well as a 97.5% stake in the MetLife Building in Manhattan, three office towers in Chicago and two golf courses. In 2022, the Irvine Company sold two hotels in Orange County for nearly $300 million, and the company is spending $30 million on renovating its 300 North LaSalle office tower on the Chicago riverfront.


Stephen Ross

Net worth: $10.1 billion | Residence: New York, New York

Ross is a tax attorney-turned-real estate developer who first got into the business when he founded Related Companies in 1972, focusing on affordable housing. Related, best known for the Hudson Yards development in New York, now owns and manages more than $60 billion in assets stretching across the U.S., plus a joint venture in London. The firm has been expanding into south Florida and is now the largest owner of commercial real estate in West Palm Beach, where it acquired a development site for $195 million in August. Ross, who owns the Miami Dolphins, also relocated this year, but not to the Sunshine State. He finally sold his penthouse above Columbus Circle in Manhattan for $40 million in January, clearing the way for him to move to his new home 25 blocks south, the entire 92nd floor of 35 Hudson Yards.


Leonard Stern

Net worth: $8.1 billion | Residence: New York, New York

Stern is best known as the namesake of New York University’s business school, thanks to a $30 million gift in 1988. But the prolific donor draws his wealth from Hartz Mountain, a firm that owns more than 260 properties—largely industrial properties, plus offices, hotels and apartments—in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and the Carolinas. Strong demand for industrial real estate and apartments helped Stern grow his fortune by an estimated $500 million over the past year.


Igor Olenicoff

Net worth: $7.7 billion | Residence: Lighthouse Point, Florida

A Russian immigrant who was born in Iran and fled the Soviet Union with his family at age 15, Olenicoff owns more than 8 million square feet of office space and over 17,000 residential units in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee through his Olen Properties. This year, he spent $165 million to buy two apartment complexes in Duluth, Georgia and Raleigh, North Carolina, further expanding his residential real estate holdings.


Jeff Greene

Net worth: $7.5 billion | Residence: Palm Beach, Florida

Greene made a fortune buying credit default swaps on subprime mortgage-backed bonds during the housing crisis in 2007 and 2008, netting $800 million. He then turned that profit into a portfolio of apartments, condo buildings, hotels and office properties concentrated in California, Florida and New York. While steady condo sales and rent growth for his apartments in Los Angeles, Manhattan and south Florida helped add an estimated $300 million to Greene’s net worth over the past year, he’s concerned that older office buildings saddled with debt pose a threat to the real estate business—and the entire economy: “It’s going to take a long time to clean this mess up,” he told Forbes in May.


Edward Roski, Jr.

Net worth: $7.4 billion | Residence: Los Angeles, California

Roski Jr. inherited Majestic Realty Co. from his father, Edward Roski, Sr., who founded the Los Angeles-based real estate developer in 1948. The firm, which owns more than 90 million square feet of industrial, office, sports, entertainment and hospitality properties, is also one of the largest owner of master-planned business parks in the country with tenants ranging from Amazon to UPS and Walmart. Roski is also a minority owner of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the NBA’s Lakers, having helped lead development of the teams’ Crypto.com arena in the 1990s.


Annette Lerner & family

Net worth: $6.5 billion | Residence: Chevy Chase, Maryland

After her husband Ted Lerner died in February, his real estate fortune passed on to his wife Annette and their three children, Mark, Debra and Marla. The couple started Lerner Enterprises in 1952, when Annette lent $250 to Ted—then 26—to start a real estate company and sell homes for developers. It’s now one of the largest property owners in the Washington, D.C. area, with investments spanning office, residential, retail, hospitality, and sports and entertainment. Annette and her children are also majority owners of the MLB’s Washington Nationals and minority investors in Monumental Sports, the parent of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.


Neil Bluhm

Net worth: $6.3 billion | Residence: Chicago, Illinois

Based in Chicago, Bluhm’s gambling and real estate empire stretches from his Rivers casinos in the Northeast and Midwest to Century City Center in Los Angeles, a brand new, 700,000-square-foot office tower that will be the new home of talent and sports agency CAA when it’s completed in 2026. Rivers’ newest casino opened in Portsmouth, Virginia in January, quickly beating out its rivals to become the state’s most popular gambling spot. He’s also reportedly teaming up with publicly traded real estate investment trust Vornado to bid for one of New York’s casino licenses, aiming for the area around Penn Station.


John A. Sobrato & family

Net worth: $5.9 billion | Residence: Atherton, California

Sobrato started selling homes in Palo Alto as a student at Santa Clara University, eventually moving into developing industrial properties alongside his mother before founding the Sobrato Organization in 1979. He passed on the business—which owns more than 7 million square feet of commercial and residential properties in northern California—to his son, John Michael, in 1998; John Michael then stepped down as CEO in 2018, handing over the reins to former chief investment officer Matthew Sonsini. In May, the family’s Sobrato Foundation paid $26 million to buy a 68-unit apartment building in Santa Clara for a pilot project to help alleviate the lack of affordable housing in Silicon Valley.


Robert Faith

Net worth: $5.8 billion | Residence: Charleston, South Carolina

Faith is the founder and majority owner of Charleston, South Carolina-based Greystar, which is active in property and investment management and real estate development services. The largest manager of apartments and multifamily developer in the U.S., Greystar manages and operates more than $240 billion worth of real estate—largely apartments—across five continents, with an investment management platform that oversees more than $75 billion of assets. In December, Greystar acquired Student Roost, the third-largest student housing provider in the U.K., for an undisclosed amount alongside Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC.


Ty Warner

Net worth: $5.7 billion | Residence: Oak Brook, Illinois


Rick Caruso

Net worth: $5.3 billion | Residence: Los Angeles, California


Donald Horton & family

Net worth: $4.6 billion | Residence: Fort Worth, Texas


Donald Sterling

Net worth: $4 billion | Residence: Beverly Hills, California


Jay Paul

Net worth: $3.7 billion | Residence: San Francisco, California


H. Ross Perot, Jr.

Net worth: $3.7 billion | Residence: Dallas, Texas


Herb Simon

Net worth: $3.5 billion | Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana


Richard LeFrak & family

Net worth: $3.3 billion | Residence: New York, New York


Nicolas Berggruen

Net worth: $3.2 billion | Residence: Beverly Hills, California


Richard Peery

Net worth: $3.2 billion | Residence: Palo Alto, California


George Argyros & family

Net worth: $3.1 billion | Residence: Newport Beach, California


Geoffrey Palmer

Net worth: $3.1 billion | Residence: Beverly Hills, California


Jerry Speyer & family

Net worth: $3.1 billion | Residence: New York, New York


Charles Cohen

Net worth: $3 billion | Residence: New York, New York


Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

Net worth: $3 billion | Residence: Tampa, Florida

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