Forbes 400 net-worth estimates are a snapshot of each list member’s wealth on August 23. Some members will become richer or poorer within days of publication. To compile its rankings, Forbes started with a list of more than six hundred individuals considered to be strong candidates, then met with them in person when possible and also interviewed their employees, handlers, rivals, peers, and attorneys.
The first thing to know about the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is that you should get there a little early. Security is tight—the entrance to the parking lot alone employs a series of three gates, plus guards. To enter the building you have to get a visitor’s badge, which allows you and your bag to go through the metal detectors into the lobby, where you can exchange your first badge for another one. This badge allows you to proceed beyond the lobby, although you’re not exactly free to roam.
The Barnett and Eagle Ford shales may be known as oil and gas hot spots, but fracking has also brought some real money to Cisco, a heretofore anonymous dot between Fort Worth and Abilene. It was here, in 2002, that brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, the sons of a bricklayer, branched out from the family business to found Frac Tech, which designs, builds, and deploys the pumper rigs drillers use to blast open shale formations.
Massive contingency fees, like the estimated $345 million he collected in Pennzoil v. Texaco back in the eighties, have made Joe Jamail America’s richest practicing lawyer. He’s one of the most generous too, having given away some $230 million, and the Jamail name can now be found on everything from the football field and the swim center at the University of Texas at Austin to the plaza in front of Rice University’s public policy school to a Houston skate park.
Though he grew up with a famous father, Ross Perot Jr. quickly established his own identity. When he was 23, he became the first person to circumnavigate the earth in a helicopter. He spent his twenties flying F-4 Phantom jets in the Air Force. In his thirties he created the real estate firm Hillwood, whose massive AllianceTexas project helped transform the I-35 corridor north of Fort Worth.
Drayton McLane grew the grocery business started by his granddad in 1894 into one of the country’s largest. After selling to Walmart in 1991, he bought the Houston Astros, partly because he considered baseball a family game, then secured a beautiful downtown ballpark and the ’Stros’ only National League pennant. Now out of baseball, last year he gave his alma mater, Baylor University, the biggest gift in school history for a new football stadium.
Gerald J. Ford values efficiency, which has served him well in his work: Ford and his skeleton crew of twelve employees buy distressed financial institutions, consolidate and streamline their operations, and sell them to larger banks. A native of Pampa, Ford graduated from Southern Methodist University (the football stadium bears his name).
Everybody learned Ray Davis’s name when he became a co-owner of the Texas Rangers, in 2010, but nobody learned much more because that’s the way Davis likes it. He’s no Mark Cuban. He’s not even former Rangers owner Eddie Chiles, the irascible oil-field services mogul who gave us Mario Mendoza and not much else (excepting his “I’m Mad Too, Eddie!” anti-regulation bumper stickers) in the eighties.
Fayez Sarofim conjures an older Houston, a time in the early sixties when he was an ethnic oddity—a self-described Coptic Egyptian American who managed money for the superrich. He made himself quite comfortable in that role. Famous for steering clients away from Enron, he is now among the largest shareholders of Kinder Morgan and part owner of the Houston Texans—and is known around town by his first name only. Hint to fortune hunters: at 84, he still likes the ladies as much as he likes money.
Bob McNair is the man who brought pro football back to Houston. At the end of 1996, Houston had lost all love for the Oilers, who had announced they were moving to Tennessee for promises of a better stadium and higher ticket sales. After the team relocated, in 1997, McNair—who had just sold Cogen Technologies, a power plant operator and the largest privately owned cogeneration company in the world, to Enron for $1.5 billion—spent $700 million of his personal fortune to bid for the thirty-second expansion team in the NFL.