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Telling Fortunes

Nos. 22, 30, 31, and 37: Robert Bass, Edward Bass, Lee Bass, and Sid Bass

Robert Bass (65, Fort Worth): $2.8 billionEdward Bass (68, Fort Worth): $2.1 billionLee Bass (57, Fort Worth): $2.1 billionSid Bass (70, Fort Worth): $1.8 billion

The great-uncle of brothers Sid, Ed, Robert, and Lee was the wildcatter Sid Richardson, who, the legend goes, borrowed $40 from his sister during the Depression and hit it rich in the Keystone oil field, west of Odessa. When he died, in 1959, he left a tidy sum to his sister’s son, Perry Bass, an oilman in his own right. Perry grew his inheritance into a vast fortune and groomed his four sons, who all attended Yale, to take over the family business. In 1970, two years after Sid graduated from Stanford Business School, he hired former classmate Richard Rainwater to help him manage the family’s wealth, and over the next sixteen years, they turned $50 million into roughly $5 billion. Sid also spearheaded the family’s efforts to revitalize downtown Fort Worth. Today Lee invests alongside Sid. A devoted conservationist, he also raises Longhorn cattle on his ranch near Kingsville and has championed the cause of the endangered black rhino. Robert stepped out of Sid’s shadow in the early eighties and founded his own successful private equity firm, the Robert M. Bass Group—now the Keystone Group—which specializes in buyouts. He is also the chairman of Aerion, which is developing a supersonic jet that will be capable of flying between Paris and New York in just over four hours. Ed, a self-styled “ecopreneur,” is best known for financing Biosphere II, the Arizona vivarium that housed eight researchers from 1991 to 1993. He has invested in a Puerto Rican rainforest preserve, built a hotel for trekkers in Kathmandu, and set up an experimental grass-seed farm in the Australian outback. Before Perry died, in 2006, Ed told Texas Monthly, “My father is such a remarkable man, it took the four of us to emulate all of his diverse qualities and interests.” 

 

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