- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 14, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) The rich are getting less rich in America.
For the second straight year but only the fourth time in 20 years of rankings, the combined net worth of Forbes magazine's 400 wealthiest Americans declined this year, reflecting the economy's continuing troubles.
Their total net worth of $872 billion was down from $946 billion in 2001 and $1.2 trillion in 2000.
Even the benchmark for being ranked dropped. The 2002 survey included individuals with a minimum net worth of $550 million down from the required $600 million in 2001.
The top 10 remained the same, with some reshuffling of the order.
The biggest loser on the list released yesterday was also the richest person: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Mr. Gates lost $11 billion for a net worth of $43 billion. He now has lost $20 billion since the tech-stock meltdown began in 2000, due largely to the drop in value of his Microsoft shares.
The biggest winner was investor Warren Buffett, who remained No. 2 on the list. His net worth increased to $36 billion from $33.2 billion.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen also maintained his ranking third but saw his net worth fall to $21 billion from $28.2 billion.
Five relatives of the late Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., retained five of the top 10 spots. Their net worth increased to $18.8 billion each from $17.5 billion in 2001 as a result of strong consumer spending.
Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison, who fell from second in 2000 to fourth in 2001, dropped to ninth this year. He is now worth $15.2 billion, down from $21.9 billion last year.
Rounding out the top 10, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer experienced a $3.2 billion dollar loss, for a net worth of $11.9 billion.
Neither AOL Time Warner's Steven Case nor Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy made the cut this year, casualties of the Internet implosion.
Martha Stewart was also among 35 persons bumped, largely because her company's stock drastically declined in value because of her legal troubles.
Forty-six women made the list, including the three granddaughters of oilman J. Paul Getty. They each inherited $400 million in 1986.
The youngest among the 400 was Daniel Ziff, 30, who shares a $1.2 billion inheritance with his two brothers, ages 34 and 38. His father William Ziff Jr., built and sold a publishing empire that included PC Magazine, Boating and Car & Driver magazines.
The oldest person on the survey is Max Fisher, 94, who made his fortune in oil and steel. "I'm not a billionaire," he said. But he's not that far from it, according to Forbes, with a net worth of $750 million.
The list has 16 newcomers, including discount retailer Leon Levine, who turned a $6,000 loan and the concept of a bargain into a multibillion-dollar business. His Family Dollar Stores now has 4,600 outlets inz 41 states with $3.7 billion in sales. His net worth: $800 million.

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