A year of economic mayhem has cut a total of $300 billion off the collective net worth of The Forbes 400, pushing 32 tycoons who were on the list last year from our rankings.
Even worse: These moguls couldn't keep up despite the price of admission dropping from $1.3 billion to $950 million.
Former billionaires fell for different reasons. Some could only watch as the sudden market collapse last fall erased 50 percent of their assets. Crumbling real estate prices and tightening credit crushed others. One lost his 10-figure fortune after being arrested for allegedly carrying out a $7 billion bank fraud.
Sanford Weill, the architect and former chief of beleaguered Wall Street giant Citigroup, tumbled off our list as Citi fought to stay alive. Shares of Citi have plunged 75 percent in the past 12 months, trading as low as $0.97 as subprime exposure nearly destroyed the firm before the government came to its rescue. Shares have recovered 390 percent from their lows, but not enough to place Weill — worth $1.3 last August — back on the list.
Tight credit and scared consumers have pummeled the fortunes of gambling tycoons Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. Earlier this year, their Station Casinos filed for bankruptcy as cash-strapped gamblers avoided the tables and the cost of debt increased.
The Fertitta brothers might claw their way back on the list next year. The strength of their mixed martial arts league Ultimate Fighting Championship, along with an impressive modern art collection, could return the brothers to billionaire status as the economy improves.
Also off The Forbes 400: condo king Jorge Perez. Argentina-born Perez — who started his career as an urban planner before moving on to low-income housing then luxury apartments — has faced foreclosures and crippling debt as the Miami real estate market nearly plunged into the ocean. His net worth, estimated at $1.3 billion last summer, has since dipped below $900 million.
R. Allen Stanford's fortune is probably gone forever. This February, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the big-talking Texas banker (and other executives) with a $7 billion fraud. The government alleges that his Stanford International Bank sold billions of dollars of CDs to investors by promising improbable interest rates. He surrendered to police in June after criminal charges were handed down. Stanford, who claims his innocence, is awaiting trial in a Texas prison.
Peter Thiel — who owns an estimated 7 percent of addictive social network Facebook — was new to the list in 2008 with an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion. But the 42-year-old's fund, Clarium Capital, has watched its assets shrink as investors fled the fund's negative returns in the last year, dropping him to a net worth below $900 million.
In addition to the 32 drop-offs, six members of the Forbes 400 passed away. This includes glass-making giant William Davidson, Weather Channel Chief Frank Batten Sr., and Richard Egan, co-founder of data storage giant EMC.
The Forbes 400 is a snapshot of wealth on Sept. 10, 2009. Gap founder Donald Fisher, who ranks 296th on our list, died Sept. 27 at his home in San Francisco at age 81.
© 2012 Forbes.com