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Robert Trigaux

New St. Petersburg billionaire on Forbes 400



What timing! Amid a Florida recession and a haywire Wall Street week comes the new Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans for all of us mere mortals to ogle.

Billionaires residing in Florida made up 25 -- or 6.25 percent -- of the 400 list, including perennial Palm Beach megabucker John Kluge (at 94 years of age, the richest in the state with $9-billion, and No. 32 on the 400 list), best known lately for the Metromedia restaurant group abruptly closing its Bennigan's casual dining chain this year. Kluge's wealth dropped by $500-million from 2007. Also listed is Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United owner "Malcolm Glazer and family" (he's 80, with $2.3-billion, fifth in the state and No. 190 on the 400). Glazer's wealth also dipped, by $200-million, from last year, Forbes reports.

Of special note are three Tampa Bay billionaires. Real estate developer Edward DeBartolo Jr. of Tampa, 61 years old and No. 262 on the 400, is listed unchanged at $1.8-billion. Tampa's George Steinbrenner III of the New York Yankees, 78 and ailing, is still listed but at the lowest cutoff in wealth: $1.3-billion (unchanged from last year) and No. 377 on the 400. And, Forbes says, there's a new-to-the-list billionaire whose home is listed as St. Petersburg. The name: Ronald Wanek, 67 (and wife Joyce), listed at No. 321 on the 400 with $1.5-billion. He is the chairman of the Wisconsin-based Ashley Furniture HomeStores chain, whose stores dot the Tampa Bay area. Furniture industry profiles describe Wanek as a "student of history, strategy and war."

Here's the complete Florida list. Former Forbes 400 billionaire Bill Morean, whose wealth is tied to the weaker stock price of St. Petersburg's Jabil Circuit, where he serves as chairman of the board, once again didn't make it.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist


[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:22am]


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