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Telling Fortunes

No. 24: Richard Rainwater

Age: 69Home: Fort WorthNet Worth: $2.6 billion

The son of a Fort Worth grocer and a J. C. Penney sales clerk, Richard Rainwater got his start at 26, when Sid Bass stole him away from Goldman Sachs to manage the Bass family portfolio. Rainwater’s particular genius—buying troubled companies in faltering industries, installing new management, and turning huge profits—was most famously on display in 1984, when he and Sid invested $478 million in the then-floundering Walt Disney Company, a deal that reaped billions. Rainwater set up his own shop two years later and became a kingmaker, putting together the 1989 deal that allowed George W. Bush to buy a stake in the Texas Rangers and generating most of the future president’s personal wealth. Rainwater has largely retreated from view since 2009, when he was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy—a rare, incurable, degenerative brain disease. 


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