by Christopher Helman
Congratulations Texas — this year the Lone Star State can boast 41 slots on the Forbes 400. That’s more than any other state except California and New York. These rich listers are concentrated in our two biggest metro areas, with 22 in Dallas/Fort Worth versus just 12 here in Houston.
Missing from the list this year are such veteran Forbes 400 members as Red McCombs ($1.25 billion) and T. Boone Pickens ($950 million). Also gone is natural gas pioneer George Mitchell, who passed away this year.
Upon learning that he’d missed the Forbes 400 cut (mostly due to soured investments in wind farms), T. Boone took it well. He tweeted: “Don’t worry. At $950 million, I’m doing fine. Funny, my $1 billion charitable giving exceeds my net worth.”
As if we needed any confirmation that Texas is far more than just an oil and gas state, only half of these richest Texans owe their fortunes to Texas Tea.
My Forbes colleagues and I are always on the hunt for new billionaires to celebrate, in Texas and all over. If you have some suspects we should look into drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Come on Houston, let’s beat Dallas next year.)
1. Alice Walton
Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art — which she founded in 2011 — has eclipsed 1 million visitors in under two years of operation. Not bad for the small-town Bentonville, Ark., museum, which includes works spanning five centuries from icons like Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Georgia O’Keeffe. Some pieces she donated from her personal collection (which is valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars). As the biggest philanthropist of the Walton family, Alice gave more than $2 million in 2012 to support charter school initiatives. She and her siblings have also donated about $2 billion to the Walton Family Foundation over the last five years. Daughter of retail visionary Sam (d. 1992), Alice graduated from Trinity College in San Antonio, Tex., and now spends most of her time on the Rocking W Ranch in Milsap, outside of Fort Worth. Since last year, she received more than $350 million in Wal-Mart dividends after taxes. (Forbes reporter Clare O’Connor just got an exclusive look inside her world.)
2. Michael Dell
After months locked in battle with activist investor Carl Icahn, PC entrepreneur Michael Dell won shareholder approval of his final $24.9 billion offer to take his eponymous company private in what will be the biggest leveraged buy-out in recent years. The Texan, who started the PC maker in his dorm room 29 years ago and remains Chairman and CEO, believes pulling out of the public markets will help Dell shift from a struggling personal computer business into a business software giant. Today the bulk of Dell’s own fortune is tied up in his investment firm MSD Capital; its $12 billion portfolio includes banking, property, dental practices and landscaping companies. On the charitable front, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has committed more than $900 million to eradicating urban poverty and improving child health. In January 2013, the foundation said it will donate $50 million to the University of Texas to build its new medical school, which will be named after Dell.
3. Richard Kinder