The 25 Richest Real Estate Investors In America

Donald Trump

In the words of the Gym Class Heroes, “I wanna be a billionaire, so (insert inappropriate language here) bad,” and the 25 men on this list are just that. Each and every one of these American men has made it their business to earn billions, and all in the real estate industry, which just goes to show that real estate does pay. Many of the men on this list are self-made, growing up with nothing and pledging not to have the same type of life for their own kids that they were subjected to growing up, and they didn’t. Others inherited their riches and their businesses, but all of them are very wealthy and very successful. Read on to find out which real estate investors are the wealthiest in America.

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george argyros

George Argyros – $2 billion

He’s a Newport Beach resident with three kids and a wife, and a lot of money to his name. He’s a self-made man with plenty to show for it. Most of his wealth comes from real estate investments he’s made throughout the years despite the fact that he went to school for something completely different. With a B.A. in science, he could have gone a different route, but it seems the real estate investment route is the one that paid off the most for him.

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Richard Peery – $2.3 billion

Just like George Argyros, Richard Peery is a self-made billionaire with a B.A. in science and a home base in California. His home is located in Palo Alto, and he has four kids and a wife. He’s also someone who has made his money in real estate after starting out with nothing and working his way to the top. He’s just a classic example of what it looks like to make a good investment and keep things going from that point forward. We think that he’s making a killing, and his bank account shows that’s the truth.

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john arrillaga

John Arrillaga – $2.3 billion

It would seem that men from California really do know how to make it on their own. This Portola Valley resident has two kids and he is a remarried widower. His business is one he started on his own, which makes him a self-made billionaire in the real estate industry. There is something to be said about being a man who can make this kind of money without a trust fund to help him along the way, but he managed to do it and he’s been riding high ever since.

Photos by John Storey


Ty Warner – $2.4 billion

For a college dropout, we’d say he’s doing fairly well for himself. Ty Warner is a billionaire who works in more than one industry. In addition to the real estate market, he also makes plush toys. Perhaps you’ve seen his name on the tags of things that you pick up in the store for babies and small kids. That’s right; he’s the Ty Warner responsible for Beanie Babies, and he’s also working quite hard to stay out of jail thanks to his lack of desire to pay things like taxes.

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mortimer zuckerman

Mortimer Zuckerman – $2.6 billion

Not only is he successful in the world of real estate, but also publishing. He’s a self-made man who earned it all in his own way. His father was a tobacco and candy salesperson, and Zuckerman decided he wanted to break into the real estate scene, which did wonders for his career. He’s been able to make a name for himself across the world since beginning his business in 1970 and going public with it in 1997.

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donald sterling

Donald Sterling – $2.9 billion

Yes, this is the Donald Sterling, accused of his racist remarks in the NBA back in 2014. Not only that, but he also has a reputation for being a not-so-amazing husband and he’s lost his team. But that doesn’t seem to matter too much to the very wealth billionaire who has real estate holdings across the country and the world. He’s one of the most famous real estate investors in Southern California, but that does not mean people can overlook his racism and his nasty remarks. It’s likely hurting his business in some way.

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Herbert Simon – $2.9 billion

You might know his last name; you see Simon on the name plates of more than 228 malls across the country, and it’s because he and his brother are the Simon’s who own them all. His parents were tailors, and the brothers decided that they wanted a bit more for themselves. They then made the decision to go into the real estate business together, investing as much as they could so that they could get back as much as was possible. They really did a great thing, too, and it helped them to become as wealthy as they are today.

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Jeff Greene – $3 billion

He’s a mostly self-made man whose father lost everything in his lifetime. He started off buying and developing real estate and making a killing. He’s the man who purchased one of the most expensive houses in the country, Palazzo di Amore in Beverly Hills at auction for a paltry $35 million and then turned around and listed it for sale for $195 million. He also owns buildings in Florida, California, New York and other places all over the world. It’s made him a very wealthy man, and he’s certainly enjoying his riches.

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neil bluhm

Neil Bluhm – $3 billion

He began his life living in a small apartment with his single mother and went on to attend law school, where he then became a very young partner at a prestigious firm. He decided at that point it was time to invest in some real estate, and it’s been a profitable business for him ever since. He then had three children and a big house to pay for, and taking a gamble he decided to quit his job and take his chances at real estate partnering with his old college friend. It worked out for the best, however, since he’s definitely successful enough to say that his law career was something that would not have worked out for him.

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alfred taubman

Alfred Taubman – $3.1 billion

Recently deceased, Taubman is the single biggest donor in the University of Michigan history despite the fact that he’s actually a dropout. His long and dedicated worth ethic began developing at the age of 9, and it continued throughout his life. He developed shopping malls in a time when they were not so common and people were finding that they were a commodity that they would appreciate in their locations. It’s been a profitable venture for the billionaire, who died just recently.

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jorge perez

Jorge Perez – $3.1 billion

Known for his high-end condo real estate in Miami, he’s been getting even richer than ever before in recent years thanks to some really amazing new ventures. He’s begun developing properties for moguls a bit younger, and the profit he’s turning is significant. It’s helped him to increase his wealth significantly, which says a lot as he already had plenty of wealth to begin with.

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jeff sutton

Jeff Sutton – $3.2 billion

Sutton is known as one of the most fashionable landlords in all of New York City. He owns many of the buildings that house the most famous names in fashion, including fashion houses such as Armani and Prada as well as Dolce & Gabbana and Escada. He’s a famous real estate investor who went into the business with a wise head on his shoulders that has earned him billions of dollars to do with what he pleases, and he likes to buy real estate.

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edward debartolo jr

Edward DeBartolo Jr. – $3.5 billion

This is a man with many business interests. He took over his father’s company and merged it with the Simon Property Group, which owns malls, and he’s made a killing ever since. But he hasn’t always been strictly real estate, either. For a while, he was the owner of the San Francisco 49ers, despite the fact that he lives and works out of Tampa, Florida. He got into some trouble with the governor of Louisiana back in the late 90s and that’s when he sort of dropped off the radar in terms of things outside his real estate.

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sheldon solow

Sheldon Solow – $3.6 billion

With nothing to begin his business, he is completely self-made in terms of his wealth. His mother did not work growing up and his father laid bricks for a living. He’s one of the richest men in the country, and it’s because he’s willing to work hard and make a living for himself. Despite the fact that he is a college dropout, never finishing his New York University education, he has made more money than most people who do graduate will ever make, and it’s just a good example that a dream can come true.

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igor olenoff

Igor Olenicoff  $3.6 billion

Let this self-made billionaire serve as a great example of what happens when you decide you don’t want to pay taxes on your earnings. He hid more than $350 million in off-shore accounts and was forced to pay $52 million in back taxes as well as perform community service and endure two years’ probation. His company owns millions of square feet in states such as Florida, California and Nevada to name just a few of his lucrative investments.

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jerry speyer

Jerry Speyer – $4 billion

He’s the man who owns some of the most famous buildings in the world, such as Rockefeller Center in New York City as well as the Chrysler Building. He also has buildings located across the world in most of the biggest cities you can imagine, and he’s looking to take his worth even further, adding buildings and properties in China to his list of investments. He runs his company, founded on his own, with his son.

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edward roski

Edward Roski, Jr. – $4 billion

His company is all about industrial real estate, and it’s not one he began on his own. Quite the contrary, Mr. Roski Jr. is the second in line to the throne as he is the one who took over the company his father built back in the 1940s. Based in Los Angeles, this is a company with more to offer in terms of industrial real estate than just about any other investor in the country, and that’s part of what makes him and his company so lucrative.

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Donald Trump

Donald Trump – $4.1 billion

He’s been on the top and on the bottom, and he always manages to bounce back. The primary bulk of his wealth comes from his real estate investments in New York and Miami, but he also has several other interests, such as television franchises as well as famous beauty pageants. He’s managed to keep himself quite relevant over the years, and his success shows in everything that he touches these days.

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john sobrato

John A. Sobrato – $4.7 billion

His mother, an immigrant without knowledge of the English language, sold her dead husband’s California restaurant back in the early 50s and began investing in property. Her son learned the business from her, and he’s since made it his own. He’s taken what his mother started and made it even bigger and more successful, and he’s not hurting because of it. In fact, he’s now one of the wealthiest men in the country, and it’s all because his mother taught him a valuable lesson.

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ted lerner

Ted Lerner – $4.8 billion

In 1952, Lerner wanted to open a real estate business. He had no money to do so, so he borrowed $200 from his wife and opened his business. He saw tons of success and then decided he wanted to develop real estate of his own, which led to even more success. He’s so successful, in fact, that he’s one of the developers on the short list of developers across the country to design the new headquarters for the very secretive FBI.

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sam zell

Sam Zell – $4.9 billion

Zell is man of many interests, including real estate. While most of his fortune was made in the real estate investment business, he’s also made plenty in other industries. He holds several shares in many major companies across the country, and his fortune continues to grow despite the fact that he’s had his ups and downs in the investment game. He’s currently the man who occupies the 318th spot on the Forbes list of billionaires across the world.

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leonard stern

Leonard Stern – $5.3 billion

Many people are excited that they own a little bit of land (for example, our main residence is on 1.16 acres, our rental property is on .25 acres and we have a piece of vacant land that’s .25 acres and we feel good). So imagine being someone who owns not just a few acres, but more than 38 million square feet of land in places such as New York and New Jersey, as well as plenty of undeveloped land across the country. That’s what Leonard Stern owns, and he’s proud of it.

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richard lefrak

Richard LeFrak – $6.4 billion

He’s got billions to his name, and it’s thanks to his grandfather. LeFrak’s grandfather began developing properties in the early 1900s and the family wealth began to amass then. He’s certainly not self-made, but he is quite successful in running the family business. He and his family are the largest landlords in New York City and they have real estate holdings all over the country, including major cities such as Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

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stephen ross

Stephen Ross – $6.5 billion

He’s not only a wealthy man, he’s an educated man. He’s got a J.D. and a Masters of Law, but he chooses not to practice law. Instead, he’s the man behind the largest real estate development in the country at the moment; a 28-acre neighborhood in Manhattan. He’s also the responsible party for the biggest affordable housing development in Queens that’s been built in about a half century. He’s got several kids and he’s living life the way he sees fit.

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donald bren

Donald Bren – $15.2 billion

The Newport Beach, California resident has 7 kids to take care of, so he has no choice but to be successful. He’s responsible for the building and ownership of tens of thousands of shopping plazas, apartments and hotels, and that’s where he makes his money. He’s been in the game for a while, and it’s what makes him so successful. He works hard to make his money, and it shows.

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