Through the ages, savvy businessmen have earned their wealth with a vision and brilliance that others had yet to fathom. Some earned their money with ingenuity, some with skill, others with luck for being in the right place at the right time. For the vast majority of us who weren’t blessed with such fortune, it’s hard to imagine having so much money, one can’t even count it all.
Here’s a few of the richest men in history, with their worth adjusted for inflation:
John D. Rockefeller – $367 billion. Made his fortune in petroleum beginning in the 1860s.
Andrew Carnegie – $337 billion – Made his fortune in steel in the mid-1800s
Cornelius Vanderbilt – $202 billion – Made his fortune in the railroads and before that, steamships, also in the mid-1800s.
To their credit, Rockefeller and Carnegie were generous philanthropists who gave away much of their fortune to charitable causes. Vanderbilt, however, kept his fortune until he died and left 95% to a son, William, (one of thirteen children) and William’s four children. Bet there was some squabbling there from the other twelve, don’t you think? Yikes!
There are few men more wealthy today than Warren Buffet. Warren is special because his fortune began right here in my hometown of Omaha. He still lives in the same home he bought in 1958 in a modest, though very nice, neighborhood. Part of his charm is his thriftiness. I remember seeing him in our local grocery store buying a few cases of Coke (his beverage of choice) when it was on sale. Warren is worth $90 billion dollars and is listed by Forbes as the 3rd richest man in America, behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.
His best pal and right-hand man is Charlie Munger. Together, they have made Berkshire-Hathaway into a world-renowned investment company with eye-popping success. Charlie is worth $2 billion.
I am fortunate to own some BH stock (not the good A stock, mind you, which is worth $315,000 (approximately) a share). Being a stockholder enables us to get into the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, which is also right here in Omaha, always the first weekend in May.
It is an EVENT, let me tell you. Besides commercial planes, private jets from around the world crowd our airport (about 110 private jets over the weekend.) Tens of thousands of people come to Omaha for the weekend to listen to Warren and Charlie give advice and talk about the year’s investments. Not only are these guys entertaining and witty, they are SMART!! They can quote percentages, stocks, companies and logic like men a fraction of their ages. Oh, did I tell you Warren is 89 years old and Charlie is 95 years old?
My husband and I go to the shareholders meeting nearly every year just to breathe in the atmosphere. It’s fun, organized and INCREDIBLE to mingle with stockholders from so many countries.
One of the highlights of the weekend is the shopping. Literally thousands flow into our big convention center to snatch up BH companies’ products at special prices just for shareholders. Dairy Queen ice cream treats and Coca-Cola are favorites!
Here’s a few fun pictures: