Gates tops Forbes rich list







Bill Gates - billg.jpg (13070 bytes)

September, 04

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Nasdaq may be well off its highs of the dot-com era, but tech tycoons still top the list of the wealthiest Americans.

For the 11th consecutive year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates took first place on the "Forbes 400" list of the richest people in the United States. Forbes magazine will publish its annual list in its October 11 issue.

Joining Gates in the top 10 are fellow tech titans Paul Allen (No. 3), Michael Dell (No. 9) and Larry Ellison (No. 10). Allen co-founded Microsoft, Dell is the founder and chairman of Dell Inc., and Ellison is the co-founder and chief executive of Oracle.

One of the year's most anticipated initial public offerings helped Google Inc. founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page make their debut on the list, tied for No. 43.

Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner dropped off the list this year, but first lady hopeful Teresa Heinz Kerry returned to it.

For the first time since 2000, the total net worth of the richest Americans topped $1 trillion (556 billion pounds) in 2004, up $45 billion (25 billion pounds) from last year. The list includes a record number of billionaires at 313, or 78 percent of the list.

Legendary investor Warren Buffett remains in the No. 2 slot, adding $5 billion to his $41 billion in the past 12 months, the largest dollar increase seen this year. Rounding out the top 10 are the five heirs to Sam Walton's Wal-Mart Stores fortune, each with $18 billion.

Casino operator Steve Wynn was the biggest percentage gainer this year, doubling his worth to $1.3 billion.'s Jeff Bezos dropped the most, losing $800 million, but still ranked at No. 38.

Notably missing from this year's list is Disney's Eisner, who earlier this week announced his intent to leave the company's board when he steps down as CEO in 2006.

Also excluded is long-time list member buyout king Theodore Forstmann, who suffered losses on his investments in XO Communications and McLeodUSA.

Several family fortunes are included in the list for the first time, including 10 members of the Pritzker family, heirs to the Hyatt hotel chain, and five members of the S.C. Johnson family, all of whom are billionaires.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, returned to the list in 2004, with an estimated inheritance of $750 million.

The youngest person on the list is 31-year-old Google co-founder Brin, while the oldest is investor Max Fisher, 96, with $775 million.