An Almanac of American Wealth
FORTUNE looks at America's rich, past and present: how they invest, where they buy their Rolls, the most generous benefactors, and some of history's truly odd eccentrics. Are the rich different? Take a look and decide for yourself.
(FORTUNE Magazine) – Let's face it: One million dollars ain't what it used to be. Still, any household with that much in the bank is doing fine, thanks. So how many Americans hit that mark? In terms of assets, about 5.3 million households do. In terms of income, the figure is considerably smaller—about 502,000 in 2004, or one-half of 1% of all tax returns. Who has the Benjamins? Well, there's money everywhere. But what can be said is that money in America is still predominantly white—the median net worth of a white household was $141,000 in 2004, compared with $25,000 for a nonwhite one. Big money is also still predominantly a coastal phenomenon. And yes, it is true that wealthier Americans have been getting richer faster than middle-class or poorer ones. Those in the top 10% of income have seen their net worth increase almost 60% since 1998, compared with little change among the bottom 40%. It's not true, though, that the rich escape taxes: People who make $1 million or more a year pay about 21% of total personal taxes. Richer Americans are more likely to identify themselves as Republican, but the richest states tended to vote blue in 2004. Go figure. And when it comes time to die, the rich leave their money mostly to their children, though pets get a surprising 2% of assets. Charities also do well, receiving 9%. Which is only right, since the rich while alive give away a smaller share of their income than the rest of us. You get the idea: The picture of wealth in America is complicated and sometimes even strange. What follows, then, is FORTUNE's impressionistic effort to portray some of that complexity.
HOW THE RICH MAKE MONEY GROW
FINANCIAL ASSET ALLOCATION, BY TYPE OF ASSET, 2006
One of the reasons the rich get richer is that they put their money to work. This chart shows how households with investable assets of $1 million to $10 million feather their nest eggs. The portfolio is pretty conventional, heavy on U.S. stocks and bonds. And hedge fund action is limited, accounting for just 1% of total investment.
1% Hedge funds
5% Private equity
7% Investment real estate
11% International equities
45% Domestic equities
MAPPING AMERICA'S MILLIONAIRES
MILLIONAIRE HOUSEHOLDS BY STATE; MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME; STATE RANK BY MEDIAN INCOME
In this map, the area of the squares represents the number of households with $1 mil-lion in investable assets (i.e., everything but the primary residence): the bigger the square, the more millionaires. California, with the biggest population (36 million), has the most millionaires. Hawaii, however, has the most millionaire households relative to population (67.9 per thousand). New Jersey ranks first in median household income ($59,989), followed by Maryland. When it comes to money, the South has not yet risen to great heights. Only Virginia reports a median household income of at least $50,000.
TAKING HOME THE JACKPOT
Brad Duke, 34, a manager for five Gold's Gym franchises in Idaho, pocketed a lump sum of $85 million after winning a $220 million Powerball jackpot in 2005. He spent the first month of his new life assembling a team of financial advisors. His goal: to use his winnings to become a billionaire. Here's what Duke has done with his money so far.
• $45 million: Safe, low-risk investments such as municipal bonds
• $35 million: Aggressive investments like oil and gas and real estate
• $1.3 million: A family foundation
• $63,000: A trip to Tahiti with 17 friends
• $125,000: Mortgage retired on his 1,400-square-foot house
• $18,000: Student-loan repayment
• $65,000: New bicycles, including a $12,000 BMC road bike
• $14,500: A used black VW Jetta
• $12,000: Annual gift to each family member
BIGGEST U.S. LOTTERY JACKPOTS
1. $365,000,000 • 2/2006, Powerball
2. $363,000,000 • 5/2000, The Big Game
3. $340,000,000 • 11/2005, Powerball
4. $331,000,000 • 4/2002, The Big Game
5. $315,000,000 • 11/2005, Mega Millions
THE RICHEST AMERICANS TOP TEN IN TOTAL WEALTH, AS A FRACTION OF U.S. GDP
Wealth is relative, so this ranking of American plutocrats measures how big a chunk of the economy each man owned at his death (or for Gates, 2006). One interesting note: Five were immigrants—Astor (Germany); Girard (France); Carnegie (Scotland); Stewart (Ireland); and Weyerhaeuser (Germany).
Industry Wealth at death Wealth/GDP
JOHN D.ROCKEFELLER 1839–1937 Oil $1,400,000,000 1/65
CORNELIUS VANDERBILT 1794–1877 Shipping $105,000,000 1/87
JOHN JACOB ASTOR 1763–1848 Fur/Land $20,000,000 1/107
STEPHEN GIRARD 1750–1831 Banking $7,500,000 1/150
BILL GATES 1955–present Software $82,000,000,000 1/152
ANDREW CARNEGIE 1835–1919 Steel $475,000,000 1/166
ALEXANDER T. STEWART 1803–76 Retailing $50,000,000 1/178
FREDERICK WEYERHAEUSER 1834–1914 Lumber $200,000,000 1/182
JAY GOULD 1836–92 Finance $77,000,000 1/185
STEPHEN VAN RENSSELAER 1764–1839 Land $10,000,000 1/194
SHOPPING LIST WHAT CAN YOU BUY WITH A $5 MILLION BUDGET? 20% of an Old Master. Sotheby's sold this 1661 Rembrandt picturing Saint James in January 2007 for $25.8 million. • A year's private primary education for 200,000 city children in India • 46 shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock • Rent and social services for 312 homeless people in New York City for a year • Tuition and expenses for 82 students for four years at a U.S. public university • A 28-acre private island in Malaysia • 50 million packets of oral rehydration therapy
A $5,000,000 HOME OF ONE'S OWN
HOMES, SWEET HOMES, ACROSS AMERICA Sure, everyone's home is a castle, but some homes are more like castles than others. Here is a national sampling of what the rich get to choose from when they shop for real estate. SEATTLE 98199 $4,500,000 7 bedrooms/5.75 bathrooms 9,847 sq. feet/0.25 acres
LOS ANGELES 90049 $4,990,000 5 bedrooms/7 bathrooms 5,408 sq. feet/0.78 acres
DALLAS 75205 $4,995,000 4 bedrooms/3.5 bathrooms 5,963 sq. feet/0.65 acres
FARGO, N.D. 58103 $879,900 There are no $5 million homes. This is the most expensive on the market.
GREENWICH, CONN. 06830 $5,000,000 5 bedrooms/7 bathrooms 5,838 sq. feet/2.31 acres
ATLANTA 30327 $4,900,000 6 bedrooms/10 bathrooms 16,000 sq. feet/1.3 acres
PALM BEACH 33480 $4,995,000 5 bedrooms/6.5 bathrooms 5,581 sq. feet/0.5 acres
GIVING BACK LARGEST DONATIONS IN U.S. HISTORY (NOT INCLUDING WARREN BUFFETT AND BILL GATES)
ODDBALLS SOMETIMES THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT.
HETTY GREEN (1834–1916) Stock trader A canny investor who loaned but never borrowed, Green was legendary for her stinginess. She had a single black dress, disdained heat and hot water, reused envelopes, and ate oatmeal for lunch every day.
JOHN HARVEY KELLOGG (1852–1943) Cereal entrepreneur Co-invented corn flakes with his brother, but they split after a bitter dispute about whether to add sugar to the product. John went back to work at his sanitarium, where yogurt enemas were a favored treatment.
HOWARD HUGHES (1905–76) Aviation/real estate He turned the family tool company into an industrial colossus and bought into Las Vegas early. And then a weird and tragic decline: the addictions, the long fingernails, the phobias.
HUNTINGTON HARTFORD (1911–present) Inherited A&P fortune With the help of his ex-wives, he frittered away a nine-figure fortune on flings with the likes of Lana Turner and a museum of modern art. In the 1990s he went bankrupt, and his Manhattan townhouse became so squalid the Health Department sent warnings.
ABE HIRSCHFELD (1919–2005) Parking garages/real estate Hirschfeld won fame with his $1 million offer to Paula Jones to drop her suit against Bill Clinton. In 2001 he was convicted of hiring a hit man to murder an associate. Hirschfeld served two years, then ran for the Senate, calling himself "Honest Abe."
WHERE ARE BILL AND WARREN? Americans are a generous lot, contributing more than $260 billion to charity last year. But Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are off the chart, accounting for eight of the ten largest donations in U.S. history. The Gates Foundation has made grants of more than $13 billion; in 2006, Buffett promised the foundation $30 billion over his lifetime.
SOURCES: PHOENIX MARKETING INTERNATIONAL; THE WEALTHY 100, BY M. KLEPPER AND R. GUNTHER (UPDATED BY THE AUTHORS);NORTHERN TRUST; CENTER ON PHILANTHROPY, INDIANA UNIVERSITY;REALTOR.COM; ZILLOW; CNN; CENSUS BUREAU; STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE U.S.; MULTI-STATE LOTTERY ASSOCIATION; TIME MAGAZINE; THE ATLANTIC; COMMON GROUND COMMUNITY; COLLEGE BOARD; SOTHEBY'S; PRIVATEISLANDSONLINE.COM; R.L. POLK