There’s a man who was homeless, another whose running shoes are coveted by top athletes, an owner of two professional sports teams who survived a plane crash, a shipping tycoon, real estate magnate, entrepreneur investor, mining company owner, and a banker.
Across the spectrum of business and sports, they are – or were, in the case of two who died, Peter Peterson at number 12 and in 10th, Los Angeles Chargers owner Alex Spanos – the 16 wealthiest Greeks on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s 2,208 billionaires from 72 countries and territories, whose net worth is $9.1 trillion, up 18 percent from the previous year as the rich keep getting richer. Their average net worth of $4.1 billion puts them in rarefied air.
At the top is JIM DAVIS, owner of New Balance, the running and sports shoe company in Boston, who came in 365th in the world, with a net worth of $5.3 billion. He was born in 1943 in the United States to Greek immigrant parents and in 1972, on the day of the running of the Boston Marathon, bought New Balance and, with the help of six workers, made 30 pairs of running shoes a day. Now his company has 4,000 workers and his shoes are on the feet of some of the world’s top runners as well as amateurs.
2. TOM GORES
In 572nd place with a fortune of $3.9 billion is Tom Gores, the founder of Platinum Equity, a private equity firm with headquarters in Beverly Hills, and owner of the Detroit Piston of the NBA. He was born in Nazareth, Israel to a Greek father and a Lebanese mother, a practicing Catholic family.
The family moved to Michigan when he was four and after earning a degree at Michigan State, his and his brother Alec, who ranks 11th in the Greek-American list, began buying up companies.
He founded Capital Equity in 1995, one of the largest private companies in the United States.
3. JOHN PAUL DE JORIA
The owner of John Paul Mitchell System, a hair products company, De Joria once was homeless and slept in his car. No longer. He ranks 729th in the world with a worth of $3.2 billion. He was born to immigrant parents, a Greek mother and Italian father.
He sold shampoo door-to-door before he teamed up with Paul Mitchell in 1980 and turned $700 into hair-care outfit John Paul Mitchell Systems. The company is still going strong with an estimated $1 billion in annual revenues. DeJoria also has interests in a range of industries, including life sciences, yachts and telecom.
4. SPIRO LATSIS
With a worth of $3.2 billion, Latsis, 72, comes in 729th. He has been managing the family fortune since his father, Greek shipping tycoon John S. Latsis, passed away in 2003. The family still has a place in its most noted sector, operating Latsco Shipping, which owns a fleet of more than a dozen oil tankers and liquefied petroleum gas carriers.
5. JOHN CATSIMATIDIS
He ran for Mayor of New York and is known for operating the largest chain of food supermarkets in New York and Florida and 400 gas stations and a large holding of real estate, which put John Catsimatidis 766th in the world with a worth of $3.1 billion.
He moved with his family from Greece to New York when he was an infant and grew up in an apartment in Harlem. He worked as a grocery clerk while attending NYU but dropped out for the chance to own a piece of that shop. He opened his own grocery store in 1969 and had 10 stores by age 25.
6. PHILIP NIARCHOS
He of the famous name is 859th in the world with an estimated fortune of $2.8 billion. Philip Niarchos is the oldest son of the late Stavros Niarchos, one of the world’s richest shipping magnates. The oldest of his four children with Eugenia Livianos, he inherited the bulk of his father’s art collection.
7. DEAN METROPOULOS
An acquirer of iconic brands he turns around, Metropoulos came in 965th with $2.5 billion in his bank.
He snapped up Hostess Foods, the cupcake company, for $419 million in 2013, saving it from bankruptcy. In November 2016, Metropoulos and Apollo took Hostess public via a special purpose acquisition entity created by billionaire Alec Gores’ private equity firm, The Gores Group. This was not the first time that Metropoulos, who emigrated from Greece with his parents at age 10, took a beaten-down brand and spruced it up, including making Pabst Blue Ribbon beer the choice of hipsters, the young and the cool.
8. ARISTOTELIS MISTAKIDIS
The director of Glencore”s copper business, with a 3 percent stake, Mistakidis, known as Telis, came in 965th with a worth of $2.5 billion. A citizen of both the United Kingdom and his native Greece, he attained billionaire status in 2011 when the IPO of Glencore went public on the London Stock Exchange.
9. GEORGE ARGYROS
Coming in at number 1020 with a worth of $2.4 billion, falling nine spots from 2017, Argyros is a noted real estate investor and was US Ambassador to Spain.
He runs Arnel & Affiliates, which owns 5,500 apartments in Orange County, Calif. and nearly two million square feet of commercial real estate in southern California. Until recently, he was also a board member of DST Systems, First American Financial Corp. and Pacific Mercantile bank; he remains a shareholder in these and a handful of other companies.
11. ALEC GORES
He is in 1157th place with a fortune of $2.1 billion. Gores started bagging groceries at his uncle’s store soon after arriving; he didn’t speak any English at the time.
13. JAMIE DIMON
The outspoken CEO of JP Morgan Chase, Dimon ranks 1,756th with a fortune of $1.3 billion and is one of the most powerful people in the world in the field of finance. He was named four times by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and toyed with the idea of running for President in 2020.
14. FILARET GALCHEV
His name may be unfamiliar to Greeks and the Diaspora but Filaretos Kaltsidis – better known in Russia, where he lives as Filaret Galchev, is 2124th with a worth of $1 billion but until 2015 was number one among Greeks of the world, with $4.4 billion.
15. TED LEONSIS
His Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup of the National Hockey Association and Ted Leonsis, who survived a plane crash at the age of 26, is number 2124 with a worth of $1 billion, the standard he set for himself to reach. He also owns the Washington Wizards of the NBA.
Born in Brooklyn in 1957, he grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, where as a student he worked bagging groceries. Child of second-generation immigrants, coming from a poor family, he was graduated from Georgetown and made his mark in public relations, marketing and IT, once heading AOL.
16. GEORGE MARCUS
Born George Moutsanas in 1941 in Euboea, Greece, Marcus ranks 2124th as well, with a fortune of $1 billion. He is the founder and Chairman of Marcus and Millichap Company, the parent company of a diversified group of real estate, service, investment and development firms.