The world’s biggest tunnel machine remains stuck under Seattle, and there are problems building a replacement to the world’s longest floating bridge leaving town to the east. But unlike these big-money public projects around Seattle, though, big-money humans are doing just fine, thank you.
The new Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans was released this morning. In a year the collective net worth of the nine from the Seattle area went up a hefty $18.75 billion to, by my quick New To Seattle reckoning, $161.15 billion. That’s a 13.2% increase, which by any measure beats T-bills. Not a single entrant declined in net worth.
As you might guess, nearly half the gain, $9 billion, accrued to Bill Gates, again No. 1 in the country (for the 21st consecutive year) with a stash valued at $81 billion. He apparently just can’t give it away fast enough to his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Next richest locally is Jeff Bezos, who, despite financial losses at his Amazon.com, saw his net worth rise $3.3 billion to $30.5 billion, putting him No. 15 in the nation. He recently paid $250 million to purchase The Washington Post.
The U.S. is so lousy with billionaires, Forbes says, that 113 didn’t even make the list of the 400 heaviest. But here’s a quick run-down on the others from the Puget Sound area who did:
—Steve Ballmer, No. 18, old Microsoft CEO and new Los Angeles Clippers owner, $22.5 billion, up $4.5 billion.
—Paul Allen, No. 26, Microsoft co-founder with Gates and Superbowl-winning Seattle Seahawks owner, $17 billion, up $1.2 billion.
—James Jannard, No. 190, sunglasses czar who lives in the San Juan Islands, $3 billion, unchanged.
—Howard Schultz, No. 302, Starbucks CEO and ex-Seattle Supersonics owner, who helped the NBA team flee to Oklahoma City, $2.1 billion, up $100 million.
—Craig McCaw, No. 340, assorted telecom ventures, $1.9 billion, up $100 million.
—Bruce Nordstrom, No. 395, brother of Anne, and ex-Nordstrom CEO, $1.55 billion, up $250 million.
Aside from the richest people in Seattle, there’s a newcomer this year to the Washington State list: veteran money manager Ken Fisher, No. 225, with a net worth of $2.7 billion, up $400 million. After decades living in the Silicon Valley, he now lists an address in Camas WA, across the Columbia River from Portland International Airport. Camas is becoming something of a stomping ground for well-heeled California refugees. Fisher presumably gets to live state-income-free while buying stuff in nearby sales-tax-free Oregon and not fighting traffic to the airport. So maybe the rich aren’t all that different, except they don’t get hung up underground or over water.