Bloomberg Billionaires Index

View profiles for each of the world’s 500 richest people, see the biggest movers, and compare fortunes or track returns.

#55 Donald Bren $16.9B

Random fact: An identity thief stole his $1.4 million tax refund check in 2010.

Overview

Bren owns Irvine Co., California's largest private landowner. The company owns New York's MetLife building, 46.5 million square feet of office space, almost 160 apartment communities and more than 40 shopping centers, as well as marinas, hotels and golf courses around Southern California, Chicago and Silicon Valley.

As of July 26, 2017:
Last change No change
YTD change +$331M (+2.0%)
Industry Real Estate
Biggest asset The Irvine Co.
Citizenship United States
Age 85
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Donald Bren's net worth of $16.9B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

0%
of the GDP of the United States
0%
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
0%
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
0%
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
0%
of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Bren's fortune derives from his ownership of Irvine, California-based Irvine Co., a closely held real estate investment business. The business is the largest private landowner in California, according a May 21, 2014, report in the Los Angeles Times, with properties located in Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Chicago and New York.

The company controls 46.5 million square feet of office properties, 160 apartment communities, more than 40 retail centers, five marinas and three golf courses, as well as three hotel resorts, according to company spokesperson Bill Lobdell in an email on April 3, 2017.

Occupancy rates, rent per square foot and cap rates for Bren's properties were aggregated from Bloomberg Industries analysts, Real Capital Analytics, Cushman & Wakefield and CBRE data. Each property has been individually valued, and a debt level of 37 percent is used on Irvine's office, retail, and residential properties, based on information from an industry analyst who asked not to be identified because the assets are private. An industry average leverage rate of 50 percent is applied to his resorts. No debt has been applied to his raw land.

Bren's U.S. office properties have a combined net asset value of about $6.3 billion. His residential rental properties encompass more than 53,000 housing units spread out over almost 160 apartment communities in Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley and have a net asset value of $9 billion. His retail properties cover more than 40 shopping centers in Orange County and Silicon Valley according to Lobdell. They are calculated to have a combined net asset value of about $2.1 billion.

A liability of $3.4 billion is included to reflect a line of credit that Irvine Co. holds through bond issuances tracked by Bloomberg.

Bill Lobdell, a spokesman for Irvine, said the net value of the holdings is in line with the net worth calculation.

Biography

Birthdate: 5/11/1932
Family: Married, 7 children
Education: 1956, University of Washington, Bachelor's Degree

Bren was born in Los Angeles in 1932 to naval officer and entertainment executive Milton Bren and his wife, Miriam Newbert Bren. Donald attended the University of Washington on an athletic scholarship and graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration and economics in 1956. Following his graduation, Bren served as an officer in the Marine Corps. In 1958 he founded the Bren Co., which built homes in Orange Country, California.

He and two partners started the Mission Viejo Co. (MVC) and purchased 10,000 acres to plan and develop the city of Mission Viejo, California, in 1963. He sold his stake in MVC in 1967 to focus on the Bren Co. and sold his namesake firm to International Paper in 1970 for $34 million, only to buy it back in 1972, following a recession, at a lower price.

Bren and a group of investors bought a 34 percent stake in closely held Irvine Co. in 1977. The company owned the Irvine Ranch, which was founded by James Irvine in 1864 and consisted of 93,000 acres of land stretching from Newport Beach to the Cleveland National Forest. When the U.S. housing market stalled in the early 1980s, Bren started buying out his partners. He became chairman and majority shareholder in 1983 and sole owner in 1996.

The billionaire has donated more than 50,000 acres of the Irvine ranch to Orange County parks and the state of California. The other 43,000 acres have been developed into the largest suburban community between Los Angeles and San Diego. He serves on the board of trustees at California Institute of Technology, U.C. Irvine Foundation and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and is a fellow with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Bren alternates between homes in Newport Beach, Los Angeles and Sun Valley, Idaho. He's been married three times and has seven children.

Milestones
  • 1932 Born in Los Angeles to Milton Bren and Miriam Newbert.
  • 1956 Leaves the University of Washington with business degree.
  • 1958 Founds the Bren Co.; begins building homes in Orange Country.
  • 1970 Sells the Bren Co. to International Paper for $34 million.
  • 1972 Buys back the Bren Co. for $22 million following the recession.
  • 1996 Completes buyout of Irvine Co. partners to become sole owner.
  • 2001 Land donations to Orange County and California top 50,000 acres.
  • 2010 Two of Bren's kids lose lawsuit for $134 million in child support.
  • 2010 Buys Chicago's Hyatt Center from Pritzker family for $625 million.
  • 2014 Buys Chicago tower for $850 million, record price for office tower in the city.