Even America's richest are poorer, Forbes says

October 09, 1990|By New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- Donald J. Trump has been slapped with an eviction notice.

The developer was booted from this year's Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans because his 1989 fortune may have been "within hailing distance of zero" as a result of his sagging Atlantic City casinos, slumping real estate values and his staggering debt load.

Mr. Trump, who was unavailable for comment, was the "most noteworthy loser," but there were other biggies. In fact, 53 of those on the Forbes 400 list suffered nose dives in net worth ranging from $100 million to $880 million, Forbes said in its Oct. 22 edition, released yesterday.

Overall, the rich got poorer, and for the first time since Forbes began publishing the list in 1982, the minimum fortune required to join the ranking skidded, from $275 million in 1989 to $260 million this year.

"It's not just the year Donald Trump's and some other overleveraged fortunes hit the wall," the magazine said. "This year all kinds of things went down: real estate, media, banks, public stocks, private companies, you name it."

Media moguls were hit particularly hard. The biggest victim was Sumner Murray Redstone, owner of the entertainment giant Viacom International Inc., whose fortune plunged from $2.88 billion to $2 billion.

Others included Rupert Murdoch, whose fortune plummeted by $600 million, to $1.1 billion, and cable TV mogul Ted Turner, whose worth tumbled $460 million, to $1.3 billion.

Forty-three names were added to the list this year, meaning 43 old names came off. Six died, including the magazine's own namesake, Malcolm Forbes. The fortunes of 35 fell too far to be included.

As in 1989, the richest person on the list was John Werner Kluge, 76, an entertainment entrepreneur who made his $5.6 billion fortune by building up Metromedia Co., a wide-ranging telecommunications company.

No. 2 is Omaha investor Warren Buffett, 60, who bought his first stock at age 11 and parlayed a knack for picking stocks into a $3.3 billion fortune.

Third is Ronald O. Perelman, 47, a specialist in debt-financed takeovers and Wharton business school alumnus who borrowed money to build an empire that ranges from the Revlon cosmetics company to Coleman camping products to savings and loans. Forbes pegged his worth at $2.87 billion.

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