We’re bringing you a roundup of five of the world’s biggest commercial real estate tycoons by networth—and they’re in the billions. Data gathered from Forbes.com, our list pays recognition to commercial real estate development moguls that started off with big ideas and dreams that ultimately ended with even bigger bank accounts.
Top 5 Richest Real Estate Billionaires
Simon Reuben and David Reuben
Where: United Kingdom
Networth: $14.4 billion
These two familiar names might ring a bell when you read them, and if they do then you’ve been in the trending commercial real estate loop. Brothers Simon and David Reuben recently paid out $800 million of debt for New York City’s prized Plaza Hotel along with two others. Yet these brothers have accomplished CRE projects in the U.K. including two recent acquisitions in London’s West End—an office block for $70 million and $100 million for a car park in Mayfair.
The two brothers first got their start in investments from trading metals and are no strangers to doing business on a global scale. After working they joined forces in Transworld, a metals trader that held 7% of the global aluminum trade. Top 5 Richest Real Estate Billionaires Eventually the brothers sold their aluminum business and began focusing on building a property portfolio.
Where: United States
Networth: $15.1 billion
Donald Bren is the only top billionaire developer to call the U.S. his home. Bren’s real estate portfolio is concentrated in Southern California. The Irvine Company Bren holds manages over 500 office buildings, more than 40 shopping centers, 50,000 apartments, three hotels and several golf clubs—just to name a few. Bren is also planning to expand into Silicon Valley with an upcoming 100-acre development in Santa Clara.
Bren is the son of a real estate investor and grew up working as a carpenter’s helping in some of his father’s buildings. Bren’s background also spans into servicing his country from spending three years in the Marines.
Networth: $18.1 billion
Meet Michael Otto, a third ranking billionaire among the richest developers in the world, and the man behind the well-known retailer Crate and Barrel through the Otto Group. Otto Group was founded by the late Werner Otto as a small mail-order business based in Hamburg, Germany in 1949. Top 5 Richest Real Estate Billionaires Today the family company is thriving in the real estate market as well as the finance and retail sectors.
Michael served as chief executive for the company’s supervisory board for 26 years and retired in 2007.
Lee Shau Kee
Where: Hong Kong
Networth: $21.5 billion
The second wealthiest developer in the world started off with very humble beginnings. Lee Shau Kee came from a family that could afford to eat meat only once or twice a month. In an inspiring quote from his recent biography, Kee stated, “When I was young, business came first, then wealth, then health, and finally family. Now, it’s health first, then family, then my business, and lastly wealth.”
Today, Kee’s empire spans in real estate, hotels, energy, and investments through Henderson Land Development. Kee also donated $400 million towards scholarship programs and campus facilities at Oxford University.
Networth: $28.7 billion
With a networth just shy of $30 billion, Wang Jianlin is known as the richest man in China. Jianlin’s success is a result of his giant real estate firm, Dalian Wanda. Top 5 Richest Real Estate Billionaires The Dalian Wanda Group made a recent acquisition of the U.S. film and TV production company Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion. Dalian Wanda also bought the Spanish soccer team Atletico Madrid in August of 2015. Dalian Wanda Group built its investment capital from developing commercial real estate buildings such as shopping plazas and hotels.
According to Wang’s philosophy, he believes “There’s nothing wrong with being No. 1 worldwide.” Wang also harbors a strong connection to the Chinese military when he joined in 1970 as a teenager.