14. Warren Buffett

richest americans warren buffett
  • Adjusted wealth*: $63.8 billion
  • Lived: 1930-present

Buffett has turned his 1965 purchase of clothing company Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) into one of the most successful investing vehicles of all time. From the 1960s through the 1990s, major stock indexes averaged an 11% annual gain, while Berkshire's stock averaged 28%.

Berkshire currently has stakes in a variety of industries, and owns many companies outright, including Heinz, Fruit of the Loom, Geico, and the railroad BNSF.

Buffett, famous for championing higher taxes on the rich, plans on giving most of his money away to charity upon his death -- a big chunk of it to his friend Bill Gates' foundation.

First published June 2, 2014: 6:18 PM ET
Source: *Most nominal wealth estimates are from The Wealthy 100 by Michael Klepper and Robert Gunther, and include wealth at time of death, including bequests. Estimates were then calculated as a fraction of the overall economy at time of death by Sam Williamson of Measuring Worth, and then presented in 2013 dollars based on the size of the current U.S. economy. Estimates for Gates and Buffett provided by Wealth-X.

Biographical information from The Wealthy 100 by Michael Klepper and Robert Gunther, Encyclopedia Britannica, and The Prize by Daniel Yergin.

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