- Glen Martin/The Denver Post via Getty Images
- Every year since 1982, Forbes has released a ranking of the 400 richest Americans.
- Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett have dominated the top of the list in recent years, but only two people have made the list every single year since its inception.
- Forbes confirmed to Business Insider that only two men, Philip Anschutz and William Herbert Hunt, have been on the list every year since 1982.
- Anschutz made his fortune in oil, railroads, telecom, real estate, and entertainment, while Hunt’s wealth derives from the oil industry.
- In 1982, Anschutz was ranked the seventh-richest American with an estimated net worth of “over $1 billion,” while Hunt was ranked the 10th-richest with a net worth “in excess of $1 billion.”
- In 2019, Anschutz is ranked the 41st-richest American on the list with a net worth of $11.5 billion, while Hunt is in 333rd place with a net worth of $2.6 billion.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The Forbes 400 list has been ranking the richest 400 Americans since 1982.
While people like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett have topped the list in recent years, Forbes confirmed to Business Insider that there are only two people who have been on the list every single year since its inception: Philip Anschutz and William Herbert Hunt.
On the first Forbes 400 list in 1982, Anschutz, then 42 years old, was ranked the seventh-richest person in the US with an estimated net worth of “over $1 billion,” while Hunt, then 53, was ranked the 10th-richest with a net worth “in excess of $1 billion.”
You’ll find no such vague wording on today’s Forbes 400 lists, but the numbers are still approximations.
“The methodology has evolved and improved over the years but net worth numbers are all still estimates,” Christina Vega, Forbes’ director of communications, told Business Insider.
America’s seventh-richest person in 1982 is still an influential billionaire today, as the owner of the Coachella music festival and 2 major sports teams
Today, Anschutz is worth an estimated $11.4 billion, according to Forbes. The 79-year-old’s fortune stems from such diverse sources as oil, railroads, telecom, real estate, and entertainment. He’s the chairman of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the wildly popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
- Shaun Clark/Getty Images
Anschutz also owns the Los Angeles Kings ice hockey team and one-third of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team, as well as their home arena, Staples Center.
Known for donating to Republican political causes, the Colorado-based billionaire started conservative magazine The Washington Examiner in 2005 and later bought another conservative publication, The Weekly Standard, which shut down at the end of 2018.
The 10th-richest American in 1982 today lives in Texas and owns a major oil company
While Hunt was ranked 10th on Forbes’ richest Americans list in 1982, he almost could have been ranked higher.
By January 1980, Hunt and his brothers, Nelson Bunker Hunt and Lamar Hunt, controlled one-third to half of the world’s silver market. Their stakes were worth about $7 billion at the time, according to The New York Times. But just two months later, the brothers lost more than $1 billion and ended up going bankrupt when the silver market collapsed.
Hunt and his brother, Nelson, at one point owned a Greek and Roman coin collection that they reportedly sold for $20 million in 1990.
The richest American in 1982 wouldn’t even make the Forbes 400 list today
The level of wealth measured on the Forbes 400 list in 1982 is nothing compared to the vast wealth seen on the list today.
“When Forbes published our first list of the 400 richest Americans back in 1982, the poorest person to make the rarefied club was worth $91 million, while the richest, Daniel Keith Ludwig, topped out at $2 billion,” Catherine Perloff wrote for Forbes. “That wouldn’t even get Ludwig a spot at the bottom of the list today.”
In 2019, no mere millionaires are found on the list at all. Individuals had to have a minimum net worth of $2.1 billion to make the list. The 13 people tied for last place on this year’s Forbes 400 list are worth an estimated $2.1 billion each.
Even considering inflation, Ludwig’s 1982 net worth of $2 billion would only be worth about $3.03 billion today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator.
By contrast, the richest American today, Jeff Bezos, is worth a staggering $114 billion.