Yes, there is real money in the Washington region. Every year, Forbes magazine does the digging and divines the worth of America’s 400 richest people. While the very wealthiest—Microsoft’s Bill Gates ($54 billion) and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett ($45 billion)—don’t live here, those good friends and philanthropy partners both spend a good bit of time in Washington. Buffett grew up here, attending DC’s Woodrow Wilson High School, and is a prominent board member of the Washington Post Company.
Washington’s resident billionaires do very well, too. Here’s who they are and where their money came from.
Jacqueline Mars, $10 billion.
The heiress to the Mars candy fortune—granddaughter of the company founder and daughter of M&M’s creator Forrest Mars Sr.—is a philanthropist and supporter of the Washington National Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the US Equestrian Team. Brothers John and Forrest Jr. have retired to Wyoming. She lives in The Plains, Virginia.
Ted Lerner, $3 billion.
The founder of the family real-estate company Lerner Enterprises—developer of Tysons II, White Flint, Dulles Town Center, and other shopping malls in the area as well as a partner in the sports-and-entertainment complex Chelsea Piers in New York City—also owns the Washington Nationals.
Mitchell Rales, $2.6 billion.
Founder with his brother, Steven, of the diversified manufacturing company Danaher, Mitchell Rales is a trustee of the National Gallery of Art and collector of post–World War II American art, including works by Alexander Calder and Jackson Pollock. The art is housed at his private museum in Potomac.
Steven Rales, $2.3 billion.
Founder with his brother, Mitchell, of the diversified manufacturing company Danaher, Steven Rales is also founder of the film-production outfit Indian Paintbrush Company, producer of The Darjeeling Limited and other movies.
David Rubenstein, $2 billion.
Cofounder with William Conway and David D’Aniello of the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm, Rubenstein is a major philanthropist and supporter of arts and cultural organizations; he sits on the boards of 30 nonprofits, including the Kennedy Center.
William Conway Jr., $2 billion.
Another cofounder of the Carlyle Group, which manages more than $90 billion, Conway is chairman of the company’s investment committee.
Daniel D’Aniello, $2 billion.
D’Aniello worked at Trans World Airlines, Pepsi, and Marriott before teaming with Rubenstein and Conway in 1987 to start the Carlyle Group. He runs the day-to-day operations.
J. Willard Marriott Jr., $1.55 billion.
The elder son of J.W. Marriott Sr.—who turned his Hot Shoppes root-beer stand into a hotel-and-restaurant chain—Bill Marriott now heads the hotel empire Marriott International. An active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he serves on many councils and boards.
Richard Marriott, $1.5 billion.
The younger son of the Marriott hotel founder, Richard Marriott oversees the hotel-ownership operation Host Hotels & Resorts, a publicly traded real-estate investment trust. He serves on the Federal City Council, helps run the Marriott Foundation, and is a trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Stephen Bisciotti, $1.3 billion.
Cofounder at age 23 of the technology staffing firm Aerotek, which grew into the Allegis Group—the nation’s largest privately held staffing firm—Bisciotti is best known as a great fan of the University of Maryland and owner of the Baltimore Ravens.
B. Francis Saul II, $1.2 billion.
The son and grandson of mortgage lenders and the founder of Chevy Chase Bank, which he sold last year to Capital One for $520 million in cash and stock, Saul owns real-estate investment trusts that own and operate properties and hotels in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Dan Snyder, $1.1 billion.
The University of Maryland dropout, a marketing whiz said to have made his first million at age 20, bought the Washington Redskins in 1999 for $800 million. Despite a losing record, the team is worth more than $1.5 billion today.
Steve Case, $1.1 billion.
The AOL cofounder’s current investments range from luxury resorts to the car-sharing service Zipcar. He sold the financial-services firm Revolution Money to American Express for $300 million this year. He and his wife, Jean, operate the Case Foundation.
This article first appeared in the November 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.
Contributing to this article were Marisa M. Kashino, Mary Clare Glover, Zac Farber, Anna Spiegel, Luke Mullins, Mollie Reilly, Elliot Kort, Caitlin Fairchild, Sherri Dalphonse, Emily Leaman, Katie Glueck, Jason Koebler, Cindy Rich, Kate Nerenberg, Denise Kersten Wills, Jack Limpert, Garrett M. Graff, and Ken DeCell.