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Forbes Calls Buffett the Richest American : Wealth: The legendary investor is worth $8.3 billion, passing up Microsoft’s Bill Gates, the magazine says.

Associated Press

Warren Buffett, the investor who began picking stocks at age 11 and prefers Omaha to Wall Street, nearly doubled his money in the last year to $8.3 billion, vaulting him to the title of richest American.

Buffett, 63, rode a roughly 70% increase in the stock price of his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. investment company to rise from eighth place and unseat Microsoft’s Bill Gates as the nation’s wealthiest person, Forbes reported Sunday.

The magazine’s annual Forbes 400 ranking appears in its Oct. 18 issue, due on newsstands today.

Buffet, a longtime passionate investor, parlayed an aging textile firm into a conglomerate with interests ranging from insurance to newspapers, soda pop to shoes.

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He is considered a living investment legend whose utterances can move the stock market. He also defies the stereotype of the super-rich, wearing rumpled clothes and driving his own car.

He rarely vacations, lives in a nondescript house and relaxes by eating Cracker Jack and watching the Omaha Royals, the minor league baseball team he co-owns.

In recent years, Buffett was perhaps best known for rescuing Salomon Inc., the venerable Wall Street brokerage involved in a 1991 Treasury bond scandal. As a leading shareholder and director, he served as acting chairman, revamped the management and later upped his stake in Salomon stock.

Berkshire Hathaway is the highest-priced issue on the New York Stock Exchange--worth $16,700 a share Friday. The stock was valued at less than $10,000 a share a year ago.

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Buffett told Forbes that a charitable foundation will inherit his accumulated wealth. The magazine reckoned the Buffett estate could be worth $100 billion in 20 years, dwarfing the legacies of Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie.

Gates, who topped the list in the 1992 Forbes ranking--at 36, the youngest person ever to do so--slipped to second place this year with an estimated net worth of $6.16 billion, down from $6.3 billion. The founder of Microsoft Corp., based in Redmond, Wash., makes money from every machine that uses MS-DOS, the world’s most widely used software.

Entertainment mogul John Kluge also fell back one spot on the list, to third. Kluge, of Charlottesville, Va., topped the rankings from 1989 to 1991.

His estimated worth of $5.9 billion was $300 million better than that of Sumner Redstone, who, at No. 4, was one of two newcomers to the Top 10. Fellow media magnate Rupert Murdoch was 10th, up from 15th last year.

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Seventy-nine of the Forbes 400 are billionaires, up from 73 in 1992. It took a net worth of at least $300 million to qualify for a 1993 listing, $35 million more than last year.

Other billionaires listed include Ross Perot, 20th with $2.4 billion, and CBS Chairman Laurence Tisch, No. 52 with $1.3 billion.

California is home to the most members, 77. And the city of choice for America’s rich? New York, where 50 on the list reside.

Forbes’ Top 20 Richest

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Being a mere billionaire just wasn’t enough to make the Top 20 in Forbes’ annual ranking of the wealthiest Americans.

Rank Rank Net Worth 1993 1992 Name Source ($ billions) 1 8 Warren Buffett Stocks 8.32 2 1 Bill Gates Microsoft Inc. 6.16 3 2 John Kluge Metromedia Inc. 5.90 4 11 Sumner Redstone Viacom Inc. 5.60 5 6 Helen Walton * Inheritance 4.55 6 3 S. Robson Walton * Wal-Mart Stores 4.55 7 4 John Walton * Wal-Mart Stores 4.60 8 5 Jim Walton * Wal-Mart Stores 4.65 9 7 Alice Walton * Inheritance 4.55 10 15 Rupert Murdoch Publishing 4.00 11 13 Ted Arison Carnival Cruise Lines 3.65 12 12 Ronald Perelman Leveraged buyouts 3.60 13 9 S.I. Newhouse Jr. Publishing 3.50 14 10 Donald Newhouse Publishing 3.50 15 55 Kirk Kerkorian Investments 3.10 16 14 Paul Gardner Allen Microsoft Inc. 2.90 17 30 David Packard Hewlett-Packard 2.75 18 26 Barbara Cox Anthony Inheritance 2.40 19 25 Anne Cox Chambers Inheritance 2.40 20 18 Ross Perot Electronic Data Syst. 2.40

* Forbes ranked Walton family members by age.


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