The usual suspects of Seattle (plus others)

I was out of town when this was published last week, so I’m a little late. The new annual edition of the Forbes 400 came out. Four of the top 20 spots on the celebrated list of the Richest Americans are now held by people from the Seattle area. That’s more than any other metro region, even New York and San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

Bruce Nordstrom (via University of Washington)

Eight individuals from Seattle and western Washington grace the Rich List, up one from last year. The newcomer, who is hardly New To Seattle: Bruce A. Nordstrom, the 78-year-old former boss of publicly traded but family-controlled Nordstrom.

Forbes put him at No. 360, pegging his net worth at $1.2 billion. I believe this is the first time a Nordstrom ever has made the Forbes list, which has been published since 1982.

Bruce, whose grandfather founded what at first was a single shoe store in 1901, ran the resulting department store chain for years, retiring as chairman in 2006 (Son Blake is in charge now). I hope your retirement is this good. Nordstrom shares have gone up 600% in four years. This is especially nice given that the company’s proxy statement says Bruce now has a claim to 27,694,012 shares and the share price at this writing is $56.05. That math works out to $1.55 billion. But part of this stash belongs to other Nordstrom relatives, while a whopping $54 million of shares are listed as collateral for an undisclosed loan, debt that reduces overall net worth. It can be rough up there in the 1%.

Actually, there might be another billionaire in the Seattle area–Bruce younger sister, Anne Gittinger. The Nordstrom proxy credits her officially with 15,470,812 shares–worth a cool $867 million. But also in the proxy is mention of an additional 5,501,520 shares in a trust controlled by Brother Bruce in which she is “the beneficiary”–not one of many beneficiaries but the only one. Do that math, and it’s another $308 million. So her total is $1.175 billion, which is higher than the lowest 13 people on the Forbes list and pretty close to a statistical tie with Bruce.

Maybe next year.

You know all the other Puget Sound tycoons. But here is a quick rundown, with stats:

–No. 1 for the 19th straight year, Bill Gates (Microsoft), $66 billion, up $7 billion just from last year.

–No. 13, Jeff Bezos (Amazon), $23.2 billion, up $4.1 billion and two clicks from 2011.

–No. 19, Steve Ballmer, (Microsoft), $15.9 billion, up $2 billion, rank unchanged.

–No. 20, Paul Allen (Microsoft, real estate developer), $15 billion, up $1.8 billion and three clicks.

–No. 150, James Jannard (Oakley sunglasses), $2.8 billion, down $200 million and 33 clicks.

–No. 311, Craig McCaw (telecom), $1,5 billion, down $100 million and and 38 clicks.

–No. 311, Howard Schultz (Starbucks), also $1.5 billion, up $200 million and 20 clicks.

Once again, none of the Seattle-area contingent on the Forbes 400 is a descendant of the 12 Seattleites on the astonishing list the New-York Tribune published in 1892 of every millionaire in the United States–all 4,047 of them. As I’ve written here before, holding onto a fortune can be harder than amassing one.

Unless you’re Bruce Nordstrom.

Follow William P. Barrett’s work on Twitter by clicking here.

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3 Responses to The usual suspects of Seattle (plus others)

  1. Pingback: Forbes 400 list catches up with New To Seattle | New To Seattle

  2. As that old saying goes, money is trouble if you have it, and trouble if you don’t. Personally, if money is trouble either way, I think I’d rather have it than not.

  3. JOhn Kiernan says:

    Interesting story. For the life of me though I cannot wrap my head around that much money. I wonder at the end of the day if any of these people are actually happier than the common population.

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