Florida’s Richest 25
Gender: All males
Average age: 68
Average net worth: $4.7 billion
Median net worth: $3.8 billion
Bachelor’s holders: 20
Advanced degree holders: 6
Never graduated college: 4
Two-year degree holders: 1
Florida natives: 0
Florida college graduates: 0
Most prevalent source of fortune:
Real estate: 4
Made it in Florida: 5
Of the five who amassed their fortune in Florida and built companies here and employed substantial numbers of Floridians, only one did it in tourism and travel. One did it in real estate. One was a company acquirer and builder. The other two were in bio-manufacturing and pharma.
1 Thomas Peterffy, 72
A Hungarian immigrant who made his mint as a pioneer in electronic and online stock trading, Peterffy moved to Florida in 2015. His biggest splash in Florida came last year in the Big Bend area, where he bought what is said to be the largest contiguous undeveloped property east of the Mississippi — more than a half-million acres in five counties, including more than half of Taylor County [“Florida’s Newest Land Baron,” February, FloridaTrend.com]. He hasn’t even publicly acknowledged being the buyer. He has a six-acre estate on Palm Beach. He called the election for Trump in October, telling CNBC, “I wouldn’t give 2 cents for what the New York Times says about this election. Obviously, they are very biased and in the Democrats’ pockets.”
2 David Tepper, 59 $11.4 billion
As a boy, the Pennsylvania native watched his father trade stocks. After studying at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Tepper eventually made his way into high-yield trading at Goldman Sachs before starting his own hedge fund firm, Appaloosa Management. He became New Jersey’s richest man and, in 2015, the richest man to leave for Florida. Carnegie Mellon named its business school after him after he donated $67 million.
3 Micky Arison, 67
In 2013, Arison ended his 34 years as CEO of the Carnival cruise line business he had built into its leviathan scale after taking over from its founder, his father, Ted. Former Monsanto executive Arnold Donald became the first non-Arison to lead the company and made Carnival the largest company in Florida headed by an African-American. It employs 3,000 in Florida. Arison remains chairman. His father brought the Miami Heat franchise to Florida in 1988, but it’s been Arison and his hire, Pat Riley, who made it a three-time champion. Arison’s net worth is up $2.7 billion in four years.
4 Shahid Khan, 66
While his 2012 purchase of the Jacksonville Jaguars brought him to prominence in Florida, his visions for real estate development there so far haven’t come to fruition, and the team continues its losing ways. The value of the franchise, however, has more than doubled since he bought it. His larger fortune, built on his automotive parts business, has risen simlarly. His net worth is up $4.6 billion since our 2013 ranking. He gave $1 million in 2016 to Baptist Health in Jacksonville. In Naples, he has a $9-million penthouse at the waterfront Regent.
5 Charles Johnson, 84
The retired chairman of mutual fund company Franklin Resources, a firm started by his father, came to Florida very late in life from California. Franklin employs 1,100 in Florida. Johnson gives big to national causes, not so much in Florida. The Yale alum, for instance, gave $250 million to the university in 2013 to build two residential colleges there. Johnson is the largest owner of the San Francisco Giants, which were contemplating a move to Florida in the early 1990s until he joined a Bay area ownership group to block the move.
6 Dirk Ziff, 52
North Palm Beach
Dirk Ziff, eldest of the Ziff brothers, is dealing of late with small potatoes financially. He took over as head of the World Surf League, a venture into which Ziff has put a reported $30 million. “I believe strongly in the power of surfing to impact people’s lives, and it’s that power that brings surfers and non-surfers alike to our sport and community,” Ziff says. Dirk and his brothers started with the Ziff-Davis publishing fortune built by 6 their father. They got rid of publishing but expanded the fortune 10-fold through their Ziff Brothers Investments. Dirk Ziff’s net worth is up $600 million since 2013. A guitar collector, he also has a home in Martha’s Vineyard. The extended Ziff family has their father’s 33-bedroom, 16-acre estate in Manalapan south of Palm Beach on the market for $195 million.
7 Paul Tudor Jones, 62
Jones, the latest hedge fund manager to choose Florida, is a former cotton trader whose average annual return for three decades has been 17% after fees. His firm has an office in Palm Beach but its headquarters remains in Connecticut. In 2015, the same year he bought the Casa Apava estate on Palm Beach for $71 million, he gave a TED talk decrying the wealth gap in America and warning it could spark revolution. Jones is a co-founder of the Everglades Foundation, a major enviro player in Florida. Its annual benefit this year at The Breakers on Palm Beach was MC’d by Norah O’Donnell and featured performances by Roger Daltrey and Jimmy Buffett; the guest list included fellow Palm Beach billionaire Thomas Peterffy. At the bash, Jones called for people to pressure state leaders on the foundation’s cause. “There’s so much power in this room, so many of us have relationships with these guys, that if we actually came together and told them, ‘You know what? Enough is enough. We’ve got to stop it.’ ”
8 Reinhold Schmieding, 62
Schmieding is among the few on our list who are entirely self-made and who made their money in Florida. Born in the U.S. to German immigrants, he started his independent business life in Germany before coming to Florida and building Arthrex, one of the world’s leading orthopedic surgical instrument and supply companies [“Rein-Gold,” August 2016, FloridaTrend.com]. It employs 2,510 in southwest Florida and 3,661 globally. He supports local causes, and Arthrex is known in southwest Florida for supporting the considerable volunteerism of its employees. He lives on a lake north of Naples’ downtown.
9 Terrence Pegula, 65
Natural gas fracking carried Pegula to riches. The big Penn State donor has his primary residence near Boca Raton, but his heart looks northward. He bought the Buffalo Bills for $1.4 billion, besting suitor Donald Trump. He also bought the Buffalo Sabres for $189 million and developed a hockey mecca real estate project in downtown Buffalo, where his daughters recently opened a restaurant. He’s up $800 million since 2013. Pegula and his wife, Kim, paid $6.58 million for a 12-acre estate in an equestrian-themed area northwest of Boca in 2010.
10 Russ Weiner, 46
The son of talk radio’s Michael Savage, Weiner is the youngest billionaire on our list. He founded Las Vegas-based beverage company Rockstar Energy in 2002. Although Rockstar plays third fiddle to Monster and Red Bull in the energy drink game, it’s made him plenty. He bought a house in Delray Beach, but in 2016 he went big with the purchase of a Kobi Karp-designed, $20-million, seven-bedroom Miami Beach bayfront mansion that’s his official primary residence. His 161-foot yacht, the Rockstar, was damaged in 2014 when a Miami draw bridge failed as it was going under. At the time, Weiner offered it for charter. To charter it for a week cost the rough equivalent of four years at a private university.
11 Isaac Perlmutter, 74
Stan Lee gets the Marvel movie cameos; Perlmutter gets rich while staying reclusive. How reclusive? It was news internationally in late 2016 when the first public photograph of him in 35 years was taken in Palm Beach. Perlmutter, a friend of Donald Trump, was meeting at Mar-a-Lago with the then president-elect when Reuters shot a picture through a window. Perlmutter’s wife, Laura, was on Trump’s inaugural committee. Perlmutter is a veteran of Israel’s Six-Day War, came to the U.S. with $250 in his pocket, started a toy company, wound up in control of Marvel and built it into an entertainment juggernaut he sold to Disney in 2009 for $4 billion. In recent years, he got tangled in some twisted litigation in Florida over — what else? — a condo owner with a grievance. Meanwhile, his net worth has doubled since our last list.