Billionaire rank: 69
Net worth: $14.4 billion
Citizenship: United States
Donald Bren is the wealthiest real estate developer in the U.S. and continues to get richer thanks to the rising tide of property values. His Irvine Co. holds a vast portfolio of commercial and residential properties — including about 50,000 apartments, 40 million square feet of office space, and 8 million square feet of retail in Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley, plus three golf clubs and five marinas. It also owns the Hyatt Center and is an investor in the UBS Tower, both in Chicago.
Bren attended the University of Washington on a skiing scholarship. He joined the Marines, then built his first house with a $10,000 loan in 1958. With partners in 1977, he bought Irvine Co. — founded in 1864 — for $337 million and became the firm’s sole shareholder in 1996. Bren has endowed 87 chairs and contributed millions of dollars to California’s universities, including the University of California at Irvine’s law school and its School of Information and Computer Sciences, which bears his name, as well as at Santa Barbara where he helped establish the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. He preserved half of the original 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch as permanent open space.