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Bill Gates stays No. 1 on list of America's wealthiest

September 22, 2010 |  6:29 pm

Bill Gates held his ground as the richest man in America in Forbes magazine’s annual listing of the  nation’s 400 wealthiest people.

The Microsoft Corp. founder’s wealth was estimated at $54 billion by Forbes -- $1 billion for every year of his life so far.

Gates’ good friend, Warren Buffett, remained No. 2 on the list, with a fortune estimated at $45 billion.

Gates1990 The rest of the Forbes Top Ten also comprised the same names as in 2009, though not all in the same order. Larry Ellison, CEO of software firm Oracle Corp., again ranked No. 3, with $27 billion. The No. 4, 7, 8 and 9 slots were held by members of the Walton (Wal-Mart Stores) family, worth a combined $84 billion.

Also keeping it in the family: The Koch brothers, Charles and David, tied for No. 5 with $21.5 billion each. They control Koch Industries, the second-largest private U.S. company. Their interests include forest products, chemicals, energy and ranching -- and funding libertarian causes.

Rounding out the Top Ten: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with $18 billion.

Californians account for one-fifth of the list, with 84 of the 400 slots. The richest Southern Californian is Orange County real estate legend Donald Bren of the Irvine Co., whose $12 billion ranks him No. 21 on the overall list.

The two youngest members of the Forbes 400 club, both just 26 years old: Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, ranked No. 35 with a fortune estimated at $6.9 billion; and his former business partner, Dustin Moskovitz, tied for 290th place with $1.4 billion.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Bill Gates many billions of dollars ago, in 1990. Credit: Associated Press

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