The Richest Private Equity Billionaires On The Forbes 400 List 2021 (2024)

Amid a booming year for the industry, the 22 private equity tycoons on The Forbes 400 are now worth more than $150 billion combined.

It is shaping up to be a stellar 2021 for private equity, with the industry on pace for a record-breaking year.

While private equity took a hit during the height of the pandemic in 2020—as investors saw portfolio companies in battered industries struggle—things have since rebounded, with a “frenetic pace” of deal making in the first six months of this year, according to recent data from Pitchbook. Deals, exit activity and fundraising in 2021 are all on pace to top previous highs—in large part thanks to a larger vaccinated population, higher investor confidence in the stock market and more demand for high-yield debt, according to Pitchbook’s report.

The fortunes of America’s richest private equity tycoons have risen in tandem. The 22 members on the latest Forbes 400 list who made their fortunes in private equity are now worth a combined $153.7 billion.

Leading the list this year is Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone Group, with a net worth of $37.4 billion. While he originally cofounded Blackstone as a boutique merger-and-acquisition advisory business in 1985, it has since evolved into the world's largest buyout firm, with $684 billion in assets. Schwarzman ranks 19th overall on The Forbes 400; His net worth is up nearly 96% from a year ago, thanks to shares of Blackstone rising 116% over that period. (Forbes calculated fortunes for the 2021 Forbes 400 list using stock prices from September 3, 2021.)

In the second spot, with a net worth of $9.9 billion, is Leon Black, the former chairman and CEO of private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which manages over $470 billion in assets. Black, who still owns 23% of Apollo, left the private equity giant in March 2021 after a board investigation found he had paid $158 million in fees to Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased financier who was charged with sex trafficking in 2019.

Not far behind are two cofounders of private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts (KKR): George Roberts and Henry Kravis, worth $9 billion and $8.5 billion, respectively. The cousins started KKR alongside their mentor, Jerome Kohlberg, in 1975 and became well-known for debt-financed hostile takeovers. (Kohlberg died in 2015.) After going public in 2010 and shifting from a partnership to a corporation in 2018, KKR now manages some $429 billion in assets.

In the fifth spot, with a $6.7 billion net worth, is investor Robert F. Smith, who founded private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in 2000. With some $77 billion in assets, Vista is one of the best-performing private equity firms, posting annualized returns of 22% since inception. It typically buys underperforming software companies and turns them around. In October 2020, Smith entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service in which he paid a record $139 million for his role in a tax evasion scheme.

Tied with Smith is Michael Kim, cofounder of Seoul-based private equity firm MBK Partners. The firm manages more than $20 billion in assets and is known for its $6.1 billion takeover of Homeplus, Tesco’s Korean operation, in 2015—the country’s biggest private equity deal to date. While Kim was born in South Korea, he was educated in the U.S. and obtained citizenship along the way.

The other newcomers on The Forbes 400 list include Scott Shleifer, Ramzi Musallam and Behdad Eghbali, who are worth $5 billion, $4 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively. Shleifer helped cofound the private equity practice at Tiger Global in 2003, which he currently manages—with some of his best investments for the firm coming in China. Musallam became CEO of private equity outfit Veritas Capital in 2012; he has since grown the firm’s assets under management from $2 billion to $30 billion. Eghbali, meanwhile, cofounded Clearlake Capital in 2006, which became known for its high returns and now oversees some $24 billion in assets.

Here are the private equity tycoons on the 2021 Forbes 400 list.

(Net worths are as of September 3, 2021)

1. Stephen Schwarzman

Forbes 400 Rank: #19

Net Worth: $37.4 billion

2020 Net Worth: $19.1 billion

2. Leon Black

Forbes 400 Rank: #78

Net Worth: $9.9 billion

2020 Net Worth: $8.7 billion

3. George Roberts

Forbes 400 Rank: #88

Net Worth: $9 billion

2020 Net Worth: $6.6 billion

4. Henry Kravis

Forbes 400 Rank: #94

Net Worth: $8.5 billion

2020 Net Worth: $6.4 billion

5. Robert F. Smith

Forbes 400 Rank: #141

Net Worth: $6.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: $5.2 billion

5. Michael Kim

Forbes 400 Rank: #141

Net Worth: $6.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: N/A (New)

7. Orlando Bravo

Forbes 400 Rank: #158

Net Worth: $6.3 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3.7 billion

8. Sam Zell

Forbes 400 Rank: #172

Net Worth: $6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4.7 billion

9. Tom Gores

Forbes 400 Rank: #176

Net Worth: $5.9 billion

2020 Net Worth: $5.7 billion

10. Joshua Harris

Forbes 400 Rank: #188

Net Worth: $5.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: $5.1 billion

11. Scott Shleifer

Forbes 400 Rank: #212

Net Worth: $5 billion

2020 Net Worth: N/A (New)

12. Marc Rowan

Forbes 400 Rank: #229

Net Worth: $4.7 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4 billion

13. Daniel D'Aniello

Forbes 400 Rank: #240

Net Worth: $4.6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3.4 billion

13. Sami Mnaymneh

Forbes 400 Rank: #240

Net Worth: $4.6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4 billion

13. Tony Tamer

Forbes 400 Rank: #240

Net Worth: $4.6 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4 billion

16. David Bonderman

Forbes 400 Rank: #247

Net Worth: $4.5 billion

2020 Net Worth: $4 billion

16. Barry Sternlicht

Forbes 400 Rank: # 247

Net Worth: $4.5 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3.2 billion

18. David Rubenstein

Forbes 400 Rank: #261

Net Worth: $4.3 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3.4 billion

19. William Conway Jr

Forbes 400 Rank: #281

Net Worth: $4 billion

2020 Net Worth: $3 billion

19. Ramzi Musallam

Forbes 400 Rank: #281

Net Worth: $4 billion

2020 Net Worth: N/A (New)

21. Behdad Eghbali

Forbes 400 Rank: #340

Net Worth: $3.4 billion

2020 Net Worth: N/A (New)

21. Jose E. Feliciano

Forbes 400 Rank: #340

Net Worth: $3.4 billion

2020 Net Worth: $2.1 billion

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The Richest Private Equity Billionaires On The Forbes 400 List 2021 (2024)
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