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The World’s Highest-Paid Comedians Of 2018

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Once again, Jerry Seinfeld is the King of Comedy.


The Seinfeld creator earned $57.5 million in 12 months, before taxes and fees, claiming the top spot on our list of the world’s highest-paid comedians. He collected multimillion-dollar dividends from his 2017 Netflix deal and Hulu’s streaming rights to all nine seasons of Seinfeld. Offscreen, Seinfeld made more than $30 million from his first love, stand-up.

Since Forbes started tracking the earnings of the highest-paid comedians in 2006, Seinfeld has topped the list every year with the exception of 2016, when he was dethroned by Kevin Hart.

Though Seinfeld is on top, Hart certainly gave him a run for his money. The pint-sized powerhouse ranks second with $57 million, only $500,000 behind Seinfeld. The Kevin Hart Irresponsible Tour, which was the biggest comedy tour of 2018, topped 1 million tickets sold and banked Hart more than $30 million. He also starred in the wildly successful Jumanji remake, which grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide. Hart was recently picked to host the 2019 Oscars, but he stepped down due to backlash against his prior homophobic tweets.

The world’s ten highest-paid comedians made a grand total of $292 million, before taxes and fees, from June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2018. This is a whopping $82.5 million lower than last year’s haul due to fewer Netflix deals. Many of this year’s funnymen—including Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock—saw their streaming earnings decrease from 2017.

Two individuals disappeared from our lineup this year: Amy Schumer and Louis C.K. In 2017, Schumer became the first woman to ever appear on the highest-paid comedians list thanks to touring and a lucrative Netflix special, but she did not meet this year’s $15 million cutoff. As for C.K., he made the comedians list and the ranking of the world’s highest-paid celebrities with $52 million last year. But after he confirmed sexual misconduct allegations against him in November 2017, Netflix canceled his second special and C.K. stopped performing until this past August when he made an unannounced appearance at the Comedy Cellar.

Gabriel Iglesias, who last made the list in 2015, returns with a career-best haul of $20.5 million, enough for sixth place. The comedian, affectionately known as “Fluffy,” made most of his millions from performing a stunning 136 gigs, but he also inked a three-project deal with Netflix last April for a multi-camera comedy series and two new stand-up specials. He might clinch a higher spot on next year’s list thanks to his Beyond the Fluffy world tour, which starts in February.

The one newcomer is a familiar face. British comedian Ricky Gervais, who claims fifth place with $25 million, made a killing on Humanity, his first stand-up tour in seven years. He received at least $15 million, Forbes estimates, for his Netflix special of the same name. The Office co-creator has signed on for a second Netflix special that has yet to be filmed.

Without a doubt, Netflix has changed the comedy economy. Armed with an original programming budget as high as $13 billion, Netflix is able to outbid most other networks; the streaming service released nearly 100 stand-up specials this year alone.

That said, Netflix hasn’t cornered the comedy market yet. Jim Gaffigan (No. 8, $17.5 million) released his latest special, Noble Ape, direct to digital, bypassing Netflix, which released his previous two specials. Hart, who launched his own fledgling streaming service, Laugh Out Loud, believes Netflix isn’t his most important revenue stream.

“Nothing is ever going to beat touring. It’s an entity that I own and control,” Hart told Forbes. “I would never turn my back on stand up; it opened up the doors I walk through now.” Gallery: The Highest-Paid Comedians Of 201811 imagesView gallery 

METHODOLOGY

All earnings estimates are from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018. Figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Earnings estimates are based on data from Pollstar Pro as well as interviews with industry insiders.

The World’s Highest-Paid Comedians Of 2018

10. Sebastian Maniscalco

Earnings: $15 million

9. Jeff Dunham

Earnings: $16.5 million

8. Jim Gaffigan

Earnings: $17.5 million

7. Terry Fator

Earnings: $18 million

6. Gabriel Iglesias

Earnings: $20.5 million

5. Ricky Gervais

Earnings: $25 million

4. Chris Rock

Earnings: $30 million

3. Dave Chappelle

Earnings: $35 million

2. Kevin Hart

Earnings: $57 million

1. Jerry Seinfeld

Earnings: $57.5 million

  • Hayley Cuccinello and Madeline Berg

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The 10 Biggest CEO Departures Of 2018

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A number of high-profile CEOs from some very large and consequential companies called it quits this year. Some were forced out, some exited having guided their companies to relatively safe harbor, and one unexpectedly passed away. We do not claim to have listed everyone who traded in their seat at the head of the table in 2018, but these are some of the more notable ones.

Kevin Systrom, Instagram

In 2006, while a senior at Stanford University, Kevin Systrom was offered a position at Facebook by the then up-and-coming social media company’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He famously turned Zuck down, electing to stay in school.

Regardless of the declined opportunity, Systrom, 34, wound up at Facebook anyway, but on his own terms. In 2012 he sold his fast-growing photo sharing network, Instagram, to the social media behemoth for about $1 billion, earning himself a $400 million payday based on his then 40% stake.

This September Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, and his cofounder Mike Krieger, announced they would step away from the company amid alleged tensions with Zuckerberg. In staying on with the firm for six years following Instagram’s acquisition, Systrom has been instrumental in cultivating the company’s revenue-generating advertising offerings, as well as its reach with a younger demographic at a time when young people are turning away from Facebook.


Pepsi Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. Picture: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune

Indra Nooyi, Pepsi

In October big business lost one of its few female CEOs, as Indra Nooyi resigned from Pepsico after a dozen years in the top spot.

Nooyi, 63, who will remain as chairman of Pepsico through the start of 2019, spent 24 years with the company and led the organization as it sought to evolve with a changing food industry that is placing greater emphasis on healthier products. Last year, thanks to her leadership, Pepsico declared that ‘better-for-you’ items accounted for 50% of its offerings.

Despite pushback and criticism from some investors and industry watchers over her emphasis on beefing up Pepsico’s reach in the healthy food category, Nooyi’s results during her tenure overshadow her naysayers: She leaves the company as its annual revenue stands at $63.5 billion—up from $35 billion per year when she began her stint as its CEO in 2006—and Pepsico’s share price has almost doubled in that time.


VW group CEO Matthias Mueller. Picture: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Matthias Müller, Volkswagen

When Matthias Müller took over as CEO of Volkswagen in 2015, he was installed as a replacement for Martin Winterkorn, on whose watch the company was discovered to have installed software in its vehicles meant to fool emissions testing—a scandal that embarrassed the well-known German automaker and cost the company more than $15 billion in fines and compensation.

This spring, the world’s largest automaker announced that Müller would step down. He was replaced by VW brand manager Herbert Diess.

Under Müller, who had previously been chief executive of VW subsidiary Porsche, Volkswagen invested heavily in the development of electric vehicles and attempted to overhaul the company’s management structure. Under him, the firm retained its title as the world’s largest automaker and saw its profit margins grow.

Müller, who is 64, earned $12 million in compensation last year and last March the Volkswagen board voted to give him a 40% pay raise. Despite his resignation, he will continue to be paid through 2020, when his current contract expires.


Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group. Picture: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs

After 12 years atop the mighty Goldman Sachs, CEO Lloyd Blankfein announced his resignation earlier this year. He was replaced by the firm’s president and COO, David Solomon.

Blankfein, 64, has held several positions within the firm, including vice chairman, president and COO. This year Blankfein placed #47 on Forbes’ list of the world’s Most Powerful People. In a farewell message to his colleagues, he said “When times are tougher, you can’t leave. And, when times are better, you don’t want to leave.”

Sullying Blankfein’s final days at the firm are woeful share prices for Goldman, which are down about 33% from last year, the steepest drop coming this fall in the aftermath of an escalating controversy over allegations that the firm was connected to a conspiracy to launder $2.7 billion from a Malaysian fund several years ago.

Ian Read, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer. Picture: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ian Read, Pfizer

After eight years as the head of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Ian Read announced this year that he will be stepping down as CEO of Pfizer. Read was a company man, joining the pharma giant in 1978 as an operational auditor, and in the years that followed held various positions, including chief financial Officer with Pfizer Mexico, Country Manager in Brazil, president of its International Pharmaceuticals Group, and group president of the Worldwide Bio-pharmaceutical Businesses.

During his tenure as CEO, Read, who is 65, pursued foreign acquisitions to allow Pfizer to avoid U.S. tax penalties. In this Read was unsuccessful, allowing targets like AstraZeneca and Allergan to slip away, while being maligned by U.S. politicians for the effort.

Les Moonves, former CBS CEO. Picture: David McNew/Getty Images

Les Moonves, CBS

CBS’s Les Moonves made headlines this year when a dozen women stepped forwardaccusing the CEO of instances of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault that date back as far as the 1980s, outlined in a series of news media articles. Moonves, 68, denied the allegations. In September CBS’ board forced him out, the latest high-profile entertainment figure to come to ruin through allegations of sexual misconduct.

In December, CBS announced that Moonves would not receive a dime of the $120 million severance package to which he was contractually entitled as an internal investigation into his activities concluded that he had violated company policy. Still, Moonves is far from destitute. The former CEO is worth an estimated $800 million, $500 million of which was earned through the sale of CBS stock.

Sergio Marchionne, former chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Picture: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sergio Marchionne, Fiat-Chrysler

This summer the auto industry lost a true giant, as Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, passed away at age 66 due to complications following shoulder surgery.

Marchionne’s career highlights include spearheading the resurgence of Fiat and Chrysler—the former he assumed control of as its chief executive in 2004; the latter he worked shrewdly to acquire in 2009, virtually for free after Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy. Today the organizations, merged under his leadership, are worth ten times their value when he took the helm.

Forbes contributor Ed Garsten, who worked with Chrysler before and after Marchionne’s acquisition of the company, remembers the late CEO’s arrival on the scene and the positive boost he gave to his new employees in his initial address at Chrysler. “In the course of about 30 minutes, in his gravelly, accented voice, Marchionne proceeded to say the words that made the past two years seem to disappear,” Garsten writes, “delivering a message of hope, of promise, of winning, that we’re all in it together, punctuated by a bit of philosophy, in Swahili.”

Sir Martin Sorrell, the former chief executive officer of WPP. Picture: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Advertising Week Europe

Martin Sorrell, WPP

WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising and marketing companies, lost its CEO and founder this year: Martin Sorrell, who ran the company for 33 years.

Sorrell’s departure comes in the wake of mysterious allegations of misconduct that moved WPP’s board to hire an outside law firm to investigate its CEO. The results of the investigation have not been disclosed, but Sorrell later resigned and was replaced by company COO Mark Read.

Sorrell, who is 73 and an icon of entrepreneurship in Britain, acquired WPP in the mid-1980s to act as a holding company for his planned marketing empire. He had previously been the financial director of advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi. His aggressively acquisitive strategy assured fast growth—and debt—for WPP over the years, and last year the conglomerate generated nearly $19.3 billion in revenue. Sorrell himself earned $68 million.

But the business life is not over for Sorrell. Shortly after his resignation from WPP, he set the wheels in motion for his latest venture: a communications services firm named S4.


Brian Krzanich, former Intel CEO. Picture: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Brian Krzanich, Intel

This year Intel celebrated its 50th year in business. It also bid farewell to its CEO of five years, Brian Krzanich, who was dislodged following the revelation that he’d had a consensual relationship with a subordinate colleague, which violated company policy. He was replaced with company CFO Robert H. Swan.

Krzanich, 58, began his career at Intel in 1982 as an engineer at a microchip factory in New Mexico. Over the years he’s held a number of positions with the tech giant, including that of chief operating officer. Krzanich was a member of Donald Trump’s administration’s American Manufacturing Council, a body that included Tesla’s Elon Musk, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank and Michael Dell. He quit the Council in the wake of Trump’s response to the 2017 Unite The Right Rally that left one counter-protestor dead and many others injured.

In November Krzanich announced he had found a new job, assuming the chief executive position of Illinois-based software company CDK Global.


Condé Nast CEO Bob Sauerberg. Picture: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bob Sauerberg, Condé Nast

Condé Nast announced in November that its CEO, Bob Sauerberg, would step down as soon as a suitable replacement is found. The timing of his departure comes just a few months after Sauerberg set down a turnaround strategy for the publishing conglomerate to return to solvency within two years. Condé Nast says it will adhere to Sauerberg’s plans.

Sauerberg’s replacement will assume a more powerful role, one that oversees both Condé Nast and Condé Nast International—two operations traditionally led by different chief executives.

Sauerberg joined the company in 2005 and was named president five years later. He was made CEO in January of 2016 and during his tenure as head of the company launched Condé Nast Entertainment.

-Karsten Strauss

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The 12 Biggest Career Crashes Of 2018

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From boardrooms to courtrooms, sudden stumbles to drawn downfalls, 2018 saw more than a few high-profile careers completely collapse. Here are, in our judgment, the year’s biggest career crashes of all, arranged in alphabetical order.


Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr has never been a stranger to controversy, but until this year, no scandal—neither performing an intentionally crude rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” nor adopting Adolf Hitler’s likeness for a photo shoot—produced enough backlash to put a stop to the actress’ career. In the early hours of May 29, though, just two months after ABC had revived her namesake sitcom, Barr, known for being an outspoken alt-right advocate and conspiracy theorist, went on a wild Twitter tirade. Among her targets were Chelsea Clinton, George Soros and Obama-era White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, about whom she tweeted, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” A few hours later, she apologized, vowing to leave Twitter (a pledge that didn’t even last the day), but the damage was done: ABC had pulled the plug on Roseanne. In October, the network premiered a spin-off with most of the same cast titled The Conners—and killed off Barr’s character, the mordant matriarch, with an opioid overdose before it even began.

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Michael Cohen

It’s been a tumultuous decade for Michael Cohen. After joining the Trump Organization in 2007, the attorney proved himself to be the Donald’s greatest defender. But the “pit bull,” as he was once known, has been deep in the doghouse since January, when the Wall Street Journal reported that ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election he had arranged a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump 10 years prior. Four months later, Cohen became a focus of the Mueller investigation, with FBI agents raiding his office, hotel room and home, seizing millions of documents, including emails, tax records, tapes of conversations with Trump and evidence of the Stormy Daniels hush money. One week later, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that he was under criminal investigation for fraud and violations of campaign finance law. In June the president confirmed that he had severed ties with Cohen, and by August the lawyer had surrendered to the FBI, pleading guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful corporate contributions and excessive campaign contributions. But rock-bottom was still a ways off: On November 29 the disgraced attorney pleaded guilty to lying to Congressabout his involvement with Russians and a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, which was discussed as recently as the summer of 2016. He was sentenced to three years in prison on December 12.

Bryan Colangelo
Bryan Colangelo. Picture: TORONTO STAR VIA GETTY IMAGES

Roseanne Barr wasn’t the only celebrity whose tweets proved the catalyst for a career crash this year. On May 29, The Ringer published an investigationinto Bryan Colangelo, the former president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, alleging that he had been using five fake Twitter accounts to disparage league players and some of his colleagues, both past and present. One day later, the 76ers organization announced that they had launched an official investigation into the matter, and on June 7, Colangelo, who initially dismissed the claims, resigned. As it turns out, though, his denial wasn’t a complete lie: His wife, Barbara Bottini, admitted to creating and managing the Twitter accounts. Still, Colangelo was her source of information, per the 76ers’ investigation.

Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn. Picture: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Carlos Ghosn 

After 40 years in the auto industry, culminating at the helm of not one but three major carmakers, Carlos Ghosn’s career came to a screeching halt on November 19, when he was arrested in Tokyo following an internal investigation at Nissan that alleged misconduct including understating his salary to evade taxes and misusing company assets for years. Within the week, he had been ousted from his chairmanship at both Nissan and Mitsubishi. On December 10, Tokyo prosecutors charged Ghosn with underreporting his Nissan compensation by about $5 million over the course of five fiscal years through March 2015 and rearrested him for allegedly misstating his pay for an additional three fiscal years until March 2018. A court date has yet to be determined, but if found guilty, Ghosn—who has maintained his innocence and managed to retain his standing as CEO and chairman of Renault—could face as many as 10 years behind bars.

Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes. Picture: NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

Elizabeth Holmes 

If you thought that Theranos’ shuttering of its lab and laying off of 43% of its workforce in October 2016 marked the end of Elizabeth Holmes’ fall from entrepreneur superstardom, you weren’t alone—we believed the same exact thing when we included her on our list of career crashes two years ago. But in March 2018, the SEC charged the 34-year-old company founder, as well as Sunny Balwani, then president of Theranos, with defrauding investors, and it became clear that her professional plummet was far from over. Three months later, on June 15, she stepped down as CEO as federal prosecutors charged her and Balwani with alleged wire fraud, claiming “Holmes and Balwani engaged in a multi-million-dollar scheme to defraud investors, and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients.” At her June 16 arraignment, she pleaded “not guilty,” but in September, the once $9 billion company officially closed shop in what would appear to be the final chapter of Holmes’ career. All that’s left is her day in court, in limbo until the prosecution has concluded its investigation.

Megyn Kelly
Megyn Kelly. Picture: NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

Megyn Kelly 

When Megyn Kelly left Fox News for NBC, in 2017, the former face of the The Kelly File explained the motivation behind her move on The Ellen Show, saying, “I didn’t want to be in the snake pit—I just wanted to cover the news.” Little did she know that only 13 months after the premiere of Megyn Kelly Today, she would be the news. During an October 23 segment on Halloween costumes, she defended blackface, stating, “What is racist? You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as a character.” The backlash, from NBC viewers and staffers alike, was immediate, and Kelly’s apology, delivered at the top of the next day’s episode, wasn’t enough. By Friday, Megyn Kelly Today had been canceled, leaving its former host and network in negotiations over Kelly’s $69 million contract. NBC is trying not to pay her anything more.

Paul Manafort
Paul Manafort. Picutre: GETTY IMAGES

Paul Manafort 

When Paul Manafort joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016, it wasn’t his first time on the trail; he had worked for Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush during their own White House races. It will, however, go down in history as his last. Just two months after he succeeded Corey Lewandowski as campaign chairman in June of that year, an August 12 article in The New York Times revealed that he had been paid $12.7 million by the political party of Ukraine’s former, and pro-Russian, president Viktor F. Yanukovych, for whom he had been a senior adviser. Manafort denied having received the alleged payments, but three days later, he was replaced by Steve Bannon and shortly thereafter resigned from the campaign altogether. In June of this year, special counsel Robert Mueller charged him with obstruction of justice and witness tampering, and in August he was found guilty of eight financial crimes. He negotiated a plea bargain with Mueller—cooperation in exchange for a sentence lighter than the maximum 80 years in prison—but that deal fell apart in November in light of allegations that he had repeatedly lied to the prosecutors he had agreed to work with and had his lawyer brief Trump’s lawyer on discussions with investigators. Now, Mueller’s team is reportedly considering bringing additional criminal charges against Manafort—yet another nail in the coffin of his career.

Les Moonves. Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Les Moonves

For decades, Les Moonves was one of the most powerful executives in television, having played a key role in the development of hit series such as ER and Friends before moving to CBS where, over the past 13 years, he was credited with revitalizing the once lackluster network. He was also known as a proponent of the #MeToo movement, even helping to form the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace in December 2017. But all that proved to be but a façade when in August of this year The New Yorker published a piece detailing six women’s accounts of alleged sexual harassment and assault by Moonves. He stepped down as CEO and chairman in September, and when more women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, he denied all of the allegations. For a while it looked as though he might manage to make his exit with every cent of his $120 million severance package. Then in early December, a 59-page report by lawyers for the CBS board charged that the media mogul had been obstructing their investigation, destroying evidence and intentionally lying to investigators in an attempt to minimize the misconduct and save his severance. The document also divulged new allegations of nonconsensual, “transactional” sex, all of which he has responded to by permitting a lawyer of his to tell The New York Times that he “denies having any nonconsensual sexual relation.” If the report’s findings are true, they could be grounds for CBS to withhold all of Moonves’ millions.

John  Schnatter. Picture: Rob Kim/Getty Images

John Schnatter

John Schnatter kicked off 2017 on top of the world: Papa John’s was thriving, propelling his fortune into the billions, and he had become a household name, thanks, in part, to a sponsorship deal with the NFL. But that would all go up in flames by November, when, after months of slowing sales at Papa John’s, he weighed in on the national anthem protests, blaming the league’s tolerance of them for his company’s slipping stock. By the end of last year, Schnatter had stepped down as CEO, though he retained his position as chairman of the company he founded. Then in July 2018, Forbes reported that he had used the N-word during a conference call two months prior. On the call, a discussion of how to prevent further public relations catastrophes, Schnatter complained that “Colonel Sanders called blacks n——-s,” and KFC never faced repercussions. Hours later, he apologized for his language and denounced racism, but it didn’t help—he resigned as chairman that evening. Two weeks later, he filed a lawsuit against Papa John’s, alleging that the board had treated him in a “heavy-handed way,” and walked back his confession, allowing a lawyer of his to say, “John quoted the word and did not use the word.” In October, he took the stand, testifying against the pizza chain he built. The case is still ongoing, but his reputation is in tatters.

Eric Schneiderman
Eric Schneiderman. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Eric Schneiderman

Like Les Moonves, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was a vocal advocate of the #MeToo movement. He sued Harvey Weinstein and his namesake company to ensure victims received restitution for the sexual harassment and assault they said they had endured. But on May 7, The New Yorker, which had earlier brought the charges against Weinstein to light, revealed claims against Schneiderman, too, recounting allegations of sexual misconduct accusations from four women. Schneiderman, who has denied the allegations, resigned from his position the next day, but he won’t face criminal charges: After a six-month investigation into the allegations against him, it was determined that the statute of limitations for all of them had passed.

Jeffrey Tambor
Jeffrey Tambor. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Jeffrey Tambor

After a celebrated career in comedy and two Emmy wins for his portrayal of Maura Pfefferman on Transparent, November 2017 saw Jeffrey Tambor come under investigation for sexual harassment. His accusers—Van Barnes, Tambor’s former assistant, and Trace Lysette, who plays Shea on Transparent—are both transgender women. Despite being fired from the hit Amazon Studios show in February 2018, he did reprise his role as George Bluth Sr. on Netflix’s Arrested Development in May. That same month, Jessica Walter, Tambor’s Arrested Development co-star and on-screen wife, told The New York Times that he had verbally abused her on set. Tambor has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct, but he has acknowledged and apologized for his behavior toward Walter. While he doesn’t appear to be working on any film or television projects at this time, he is still slated to appear in Disney’s Magic Camp, to be released in 2019.

Wynn Resorts. Picture: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Steve Wynn

After nearly two decades spent building a casino empire, and with it much of the iconic Las Vegas strip, Steve Wynn’s house of cards came tumbling down in January, when The Wall Street Journal published an investigation into numerous allegations against him of sexual misconduct. The billionaire has vehemently denied the accusations, calling them “preposterous” and part of a smear campaign led by Elaine Wynn, his ex-wife and Wynn Resorts cofounder, but he stepped down as CEO and chairman in February, and sold his shares of the company in March. Seven months after cashing out, he filed a lawsuit against his former company and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, alleging that Wynn Resorts had improperly provided investigators with his private communications and attempting to block the release of documents related to the firm’s investigation. A hearing on those documents’ possible release is expected on December 20.

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Forbes Billionaires 2018: Meet The Richest People On The Planet

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The gap between the really rich and the merely rich continues to widen, as fortunes soar to new heights. A record 2,208 billionaires made Forbes’ 32 annual ranking of the world’s billionaires. Altogether they are worth a record $9.1 trillion, up 18% from a year ago. The 20 richest people on the planet are worth a staggering $1.2 trillion, a sum roughly equivalent to the annual economic output of Mexico. In aggregate, they may represent less than 1% of total billionaires but their riches amount to 13% of the total fortune of all billionaires worldwide.

Jeff Bezos is the richest person on the planet and the first centi-billionaire atop our annual ranking. Shares of his e-commerce giant Amazon rose 59%  in 12 months, helping boost his fortune by $39.2 billion. It was the biggest one year gain since Forbes started tracking billionaires in 1987. He easily moved ahead of Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, who ceded the top spot for only the sixth time since 1995.

READ MORE: Here’s Why Jeff Bezos Is Not Truly The Richest Man In History

France’s Bernard Arnault had the second best year after Bezos. Record results at his luxury goods empire LVMH and a deal to buy out nearly all of Christian Dior helped boost Arnault’s fortune by $30.5 billion. He is the richest European for the first time since 2012 and number four richest in the world.

Two tech entrepreneurs from mainland China climbed into the top 20 for the first time. Ma Huateng (also known as Pony Ma) is Asia’s wealthiest person, ranked number 17 in the world, thanks in part to his firm Tencent’s WeChat, a ubiquitous social-messaging app with nearly 1 billion active users. Tencent also has stakes in Tesla, Snapchat parent Snap and music-streaming service Spotify. Jack Ma, the 20th richest person, is the chief of another e-commerce giant Alibaba, whose shares increased 76% in a year.

Forbes pinned down 259 newcomers who made their fortunes in everything from tech and aerospace to private aviation and wedding dresses. China has the most new faces with 89, while the U.S. is next with 18. That is helping close the gap between the two nations. Altogether the U.S. has more billionaires than any country in the world with 585, while greater China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) has 476.

READ MORE: African Billionaire Fortunes Rise

On this year’s list, the billionaires hail from 72 countries and territories, including the first ever from Hungary and Zimbabwe. One country not represented: Saudi Arabia. Forbes chose to leave off all 10 Saudis given reports of asset seizures after the Saudi Crown Prince detained some 200 people, including some billionaires, some for as long as three months.

While the vast majority of the world’s billionaires added to their fortunes in the past 12 months, 16% had fortunes that slipped. One notable loser was President Donald Trump, whose fortune fell $400 million since March 2017 to a current $3.1 billion. He is now ranked 766 in the world, down from 544.

READ MORE: Donald Trump Drops $400 Million On Forbes Billionaires List

Go here for the full list of all the world’s billionaires.

Methodology

The Forbes World’s Billionaires list is a snapshot of wealth using stock prices and exchange rates from February 9, 2018. Some people will become richer or poorer within weeks—even days—of publication. For example, Jeff Bezos’ net worth climbed more than $12 billion in the two weeks between our measuring date for stock prices and when this issue went to press. We list individuals rather than multigenerational families who share large fortunes, though we include wealth belonging to a billionaire’s spouse and children if that person is the founder of the fortune. In some cases we list siblings or couples together if the ownership breakdown among them isn’t clear, but here an estimated net worth of $1 billion per person is needed to make the cut. We value a variety of assets, including private companies, real estate, art, yachts and more. We don’t pretend to know each billionaire’s private balance sheet (though some provide it). When documentation isn’t supplied or available, we discount fortunes. For daily updates of net worths, go to forbes.com/real-time-billionaires. – Written by 

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