31. David Geffen
Age: 67. Net worth: $5 billion.
A leading figure in the entertainment industry, Brooklyn-born David Geffen’s parents (his father was from Vilna, his mother from a village in Ukraine) had met in British Mandate Palestine and immigrated to America in 1931. He helped run his parents’ corset shop throughout his childhood, and has credited his mother with forging his work ethic, and his father, an intellectual who died when Geffen was only 18, for inspiring him to seek a life beyond mere survival.
Geffen dropped out of college to work as an usher in Los Angeles’s CBS studios, followed by a stint in the mailroom of the William Morris Talent Agency. He had made a fortune by his mid-20s representing artists who would define a generation of music, including Janis Joplin, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. In 1970 he founded Asylum Records and a decade letter his own Geffen Records, before moving into film, co-founding the DreamWorks SKG film studio with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, which won three consecutive Best Picture Oscars for American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind.
Geffen’s philanthropic focus has been in medical research – his multiyear $200 million pledge to the UCLA School of Medicine is the largest single gift in US history to a school of medicine – to AIDS organizations, abortion rights groups and the theater and arts. Jewish recipients have included the Jewish Federation Council and the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.
32. Isak Andic
Age: 55. Net worth: $4.8 billion.
Barcelona-born Isak Andic, whose family came to Spain from Turkey in the 1950s, is the co-founder (with brother Nahman) and chief executive officer of Spanish fashion retailer Mango. Beginning with a single store in Barcelona in 1984, Mango now employs over 6,000 people in over 850 locations in 81 countries.
Age: 63. Net worth: $4.7 billion.
Born in 1947 in Philadelphia, Stephen Schwarzman is the chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, a private equity and financial advisory firm. Growing up in Philadelphia, he worked alongside his father in the family’s drapery and linen business, went to Yale and Harvard Business School and began his career in financial services at Lehman Brothers, becoming the head of their global mergers and acquisition team.
Schwarzman is a director of the New York Public Library (where his donation of $100 million ranks as the largest donation ever to a New York cultural organization) and the New York City Ballet. He made headlines this summer when he branded President Obama’s plans to raise taxes on the private equity industry “war… like when Hitler invaded Poland.”
34. Ralph Lauren
Age: 70. Net worth: $4.6 billion.
Born Ralph Lifshitz in Bronx, New York, the iconic American fashion designer went to Jewish day school and yeshiva (where he reputedly sold ties to fellow students) and on to New York’s Baruch School of Business, served in the US army, and then worked as a salesman for Brooks Brothers. He began designing his own ties, opened his own store, and expanded, under the Polo brand, into men’s suits and then into women’s wear, with worldwide resonance. Lauren, who changed his name at 19, denies having done so to play down his Jewishness.
His Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention is located in East Harlem.
35. Samuel Newhouse Jr.
Age: 82. Net worth: $4.5 billion.
Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. – better known as Si – is CEO of Advance Publications, which in turn owns Condé Nast Publications, publishers of Vogue, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and numerous other world-renowned titles. Once memorably described as “the reigning arbiter of high-end glitz,” his father was the eldest of eight children of Jewish immigrants to the US who began acquiring newspapers in the 1930s. Newhouse Jr. has dramatically expanded the publishing empire, and acquired a reputation for a brusque style of dismissing writers and editors and a keen eye for spotting talent. An art collector and noted philanthropist, he gave $15 million to Syracuse University.
36. Micky Arison
Age: 61. Net worth: $4.4 billion.
Tel Aviv-born Micky Arison is CEO of Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator, and owner of his hometown basketball team Florida’s Miami Heat. His younger sister Shari, owner of Bank Hapoalim, is ranked by Forbes as the richest woman in the Middle East. Their father, Ted, born in Tel Aviv in 1924, moved to the US and founded Carnival after fighting in the War of Independence, later moving back to Israel and becoming a major local philanthropist through the Arison Foundation. 37. Leonid Mikhelson Age: 54. Net worth: $4.4 billion.
Leonid Mikhelson, born and raised in Moscow, is the CEO and chairman of Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer, Novatek. The son of the head of the Soviet Union’s largest pipeline construction trust, he started out as a foreman on a pipeline construction site, working his way up to chief engineer, then succeeding his father. 38. Henry Kravis Age: 66. Net worth: $4.2 billion.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Manhattan-based Kravis made partner at Bear Stearns when aged only 30, then left to found the investment fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the leading private equity specialists. A Republican fund-raiser, his philanthropic projects include a variety of academic programs, the non-profit New York City Investment Fund (which he created), the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Mount Sinai Medical Center. 39. Lester Crown Age: 85. Net worth: $4.1 billion.
Lester Crown, of Wilmette, Illinois, is the son of Chicago financier Henry Crown, a former president and chair of General Dynamics, and a member of the board of directors of Maytag and a former director of TWA. A Forbes 400 perennial, he owns family holdings in the Rockefeller Center in New York, Hilton Hotels, the Chicago Bulls and the New York Yankees.
A leader of the Chicago Jewish community, he is a “fundamental” supporter of Israel and a recipient of the Teddy Kollek Award for outstanding efforts on behalf of Jerusalem. An early and public supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy, he praised the Chicago candidate as “unyielding in defending Israel’s security.” This summer, IDF Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin paid a visit to Crown, where some reports claimed he asked for Crown’s help conveying Israeli concerns to Obama. His daughter Susan chairs the Shoah Foundation. 40. Leonard Lauder Age: 77. Net worth: $4 billion.
Born in New York in 1933, Leonard Lauder is the eldest son of Estée Lauder, founder of the Estée Lauder cosmetics giant which operates in over 100 countries and employs over 10,000 people. Formerly the firm’s chief executive, Leonard now serves as chairman of the board. His younger brother, Ronald, is president of the World Jewish Congress and a prominent pro-Israel advocate and philanthropist.
An art collector, Leonard is a key financial supporter of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Ofra Strauss, chairwoman of the Israeli dairy giant and a former Estée Lauder employee, cites him as her mentor.