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Telling Fortunes

No. 5: Andrew Beal

Age: 60Home: DallasNet Worth: $9.8 billion

The founder of one of the state’s biggest private banks is also a math whiz who taught himself number theory; in 1993 Andy Beal used his bank’s fifteen computers to work up the Beal Conjecture, a generalization of Fermat’s Last Theorem that made him famous (he has put up a prize of $1 million for anyone who can prove or disprove it). His math skills were also on display when, between 2001 and 2004, he took on sixteen of the world’s best players in a series of very high-stakes games. But Beal’s main strength is seeing value where others do not. In the eighties he ran a savings and loan whose purpose it was to buy up loan portfolios of troubled banks and other S&L institutions. During 2008 and 2009, as the country was reeling from the financial crash, Beal bought up assets that everyone else was dumping—at ridiculously deep discounts—so that while the combined net worth of the four hundred richest people in America dropped by a collective $300 billion, he saw his own net worth triple. 


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