Who Wants to Be a Billionaire?

As Forbes releases its annual list, portraits of the world's wealthiest by Tom Wolfe, Mike Sager, Vanessa Grigoriadis and others.
7 stories

You know how the song goes: "I wanna be a billionaire so frickin' bad/buy all of the things I never had." These are men and women who made it happen.

For Esquire, Mike Sager profiled a billionaire familiar to NBA fans. "Forty-one years old, a few degrees south of handsome, Mark Cuban is a recent addition to the Forbes 400 list of the nation's wealthiest, ranked 199, higher than Ed Bass and Barry Diller, just below Donald Trump and Charles Wang," Sager wrote. "His personal worth today totals about $2.5 billion. Two thousand, five hundred million dollars--enough to spend a million a day, every day, for almost seven years. Not bad for a guy who started his career in business selling garbage bags door-to-door."

Henry Blodget wrote that Mark Zuckerberg, "notoriously frugal in his own spending, actively disdained Facebook’s early business efforts, insisting that ads on the service meet his exacting specifications. Advertising might have been helping to fund Facebook’s growth, but advertising wasn’t cool. And Zuckerberg wasn’t about to let ads ruin Facebook."

Devin Leonard profiled Nicolas Berggruen, who "isn’t satisfied with mere wealth and glamour. He also wants to be taken seriously as an intellectual. As the financial crisis unfolded, he became convinced some political systems were failing in America and Europe. He thought he could help rescue them by using his disposable income to advance wonky reforms. By his own admission, he didn’t know much about such matters, but that didn’t stop him."

And in an excerpt from his novel Back to Blood, Tom Wolfe described the running of the billionaires at Art Basel Miami: "Just take a look at them! … the billionaires! They look like shoppers mobbed outside Macy’s at midnight for the 40-percent-off After Christmas Sale. No, they don’t look that good. They look older and grubbier and more washed out … They’re wearing baggy-in-the-seat Relaxed Fit jeans, too-big T-shirts, too-big polo shirts hanging out at the bottom to make room for their paunches, dirty khakis, ug-lee rumpled woolen ankle-high socks of rubber-mat black, paint-job green, and slop-mop maroon … and sneakers."

Yeaaaahhhhhhh, Baaaaaaaa-byyyyy!

Every time you hear that sound, God has created another billionaire. Mark Cuban is number 199.
Apr 2000
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The Running of the Billionaires

In an excerpt from his novel, “Back to Blood,” Tom Wolfe sees Art Basel Miami Beach through the eyes of a young Cuban-American exile, as she watches a local tycoon and a Russian oligarch lock horns over erotic conceptual art.

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Deep Thoughts with the Homeless Billionaire

Nicolas Berggruen has long been famous for having no home and throwing great parties. Now he’d like to save democracy, too.

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The $91 Billion Conversation

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