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Chinese And Hong Kong Billionaires On Top As Global Real Estate Fortunes Surge $151 Billion

The 215 global real estate moguls have a combined net worth of more than $800 billion.

4/8/2021 12:36:00 AM

Chinese And Hong Kong Billionaires Are On Top As Global Real Estate Fortunes Surge $151 Billion

The 215 global real estate moguls have a combined net worth of more than $800 billion.

David Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty ImagesThe world’s real estate billionaires collectively added $151 billion to their fortunes in the past year, driven by a spike in Asian markets, according to the 2021ForbesBillionaires rankings. The 215 real estate moguls have a combined net worth of more than $800 billion and represent about 8% of the total individuals on the list. Only 30 saw a net worth drop over the last year. 

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The six richest are all citizens of either China or Hong Kong, including Hong Kong’s Lee Shau-kee, 93, the world’s richest real estate tycoon, with a $31.7 billion fortune. Lee controls publicly traded Henderson Land Development, which builds residential properties and marquee commercial projects, like the World Financial Center in Beijing and the International Finance Centre complex in Hong Kong. 

The biggest jump from last year went to China’s Zuo Hui, who added $13.3 billion. He was worth $15.5 billion on March 6, when the annual ranking was finalized. Zuo chairs publicly traded KE Holdings, the parent company of Lianjia, which he founded in 2001 and built into China’s largest real estate brokerage firm, with operations in 28 cities and almost 150,000 brokers.

Zuo was at the leading edge of a boom for Asian real estate billionaires, who claim 15 of the top 20 spots on theForbesranking, one more than last year.Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren is one of only two U.S. billionaires to rank among real estate’s 20 richest people. Bren’s $15.3 billion fortune represents a $200 million drop from 2020, as the pandemic ate away valuations across the country. Irvine controls more than 125 million square feet of property, much of it in Southern California. Bren is joined by Sun Hongbin, a U.S. citizen who founded Chinese developer Sunac China Holdings; he ticked up by $100 million to $9.3 billion.

Germany’s Alexander Otto was the highest-ranking European billionaire to land in the top 20. Otto’s fortune, which includes commercial investments in major cities like Rio de Janeiro and New York, rose almost $7 billion over the past year.   

Rising values brought a handful of new billionaires to the list—though none in the top 20—including Zillow cofounders Richard Barton ($2.2 billion) and Lloyd Frink ($1.4 billion), both from the U.S., where a white-hot residential market boosted the company’s shares nearly three-fold in the 12 months ending March 6. 

#1 | Lee Shau KeeNET WORTH: $31.7 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +12.8%)#2 | Yang Huiyan & familyChinaNET WORTH: $29.6 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +45.8%)#3 | Hui Ka YanNET WORTH: $27.7 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +27.1%)#4 | Wu YajunNET WORTH: $18.3 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +52.5%)

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#5 | Peter WooNET WORTH: $18 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +56.5%)#6 | Zuo HuiNET WORTH: $15.5 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +604.5%)#7 | Donald BrenNET WORTH: $15.3 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: -1.3%)Donald Bren, chairman of Irvine Company.Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

#8 | Wang JianlinNET WORTH: $14.8 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +5.7%)#9 | Kwong Siu-hingNET WORTH: $14.7 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +23.5%)#10 | Joseph LauNET WORTH: $13.6 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: -17.1%)#11 | Robert & Philip NgSingaporeNET WORTH: $13.3 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +22%)

#12 | Alexander OttoNET WORTH: $11.8 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +136%)Alexander Otto, majority shareholder and CEO of ECE Group.Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images#13 | Harry TriguboffNET WORTH: $11.2 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +77.8%)#14 | Cai Kui

NET WORTH: $10.4 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +50.7%)#15 | Hui Wing MauNET WORTH: $10.3 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +8.4%)#16 (tie) | Ian & Richard LivingstoneUnited KingdomNET WORTH: $9.3 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +45.3%)#16 (tie) | Sun HongbinNET WORTH: $9.3 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +1.1%)

Sun Hongbin, chairman of Chinese developer Sunac.Jonathan Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images#18 | Chan Tan Ching-fenNET WORTH: $8.8 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +486.7%)#19 | Kushal Pal SinghNET WORTH: $8.3 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +124.3%)#20 | Kei Hoi Pang

NET WORTH: $7.8 billion (1-YEAR CHANGE: +20%) Read more: Forbes »

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