The wealthy elite of Fairfield County are not a threat to unseat Bill Gates as the nation's richest individual, but Forbes magazine's new list of the 400 Richest People in America reveals that the county -- and Greenwich in particular -- has a near monopoly on uber-wealth in the state.
While Gates, the founder of Microsoft Corp. from Medina, Wash., placed first in the overall list yet again with a net worth of $59 billion, 11 Connecticut residents are among the rankings -- and eight of them reside in Greenwich.
Only Karen Pritzker, a Branford resident who ranks 273 with a net worth of $1.6 billion garnered through her investments and involvement in the hotel industry, lives outside Fairfield County.
Topping the list in Connecticut is Steve Cohen, founder and manager of SAC Capital Advisors, a hedge fund with $16.6 billion in assets. Ranked 35th overall, Cohen's net worth is listed at $8.3 billion.
Greenwich has the top-five wealthiest individuals in the state with resident, Thomas Peterffy, founder and chief executive officer of Interactive Brokers, ranking third in Connecticut and 60th overall. The Hungarian immigrant has a net worth of $5 billion.
Danbury resident Peter Buck, ranked 188, breaks Greenwich's hold on the wealth list with net worth of $2.2 billion. A former nuclear physicist and a founding partner in the Subway restaurant chain, Buck built the foundation for a business that has more than 30,000 franchised locations in 91 countries.
Greenwich, however, is the home of three of the final four Fairfield County residents in the rankings, with Stephen Mandel Jr.'s net worth at $1.5 billion. Mandel is the founder of hedge fund Lone Pine Capital and is ranked 293.
Ranked 359 with an estimated fortune of $1.2 billion, is Greenwich resident William Macaulay, chairman and chief executive officer of First Reserve Corp., a Greenwich-based energy industry investor. He's tied with C. Dean Metropoulos, executive chairman of private equity firm Metropoulos & Co., which in June paid $250 million for the Pabst Brewing Co.
The Forbes list is an indication of the regions strength, resources, diversity and the opportunities it offers, said Christopher Bruhl, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Fairfield County.
The county has challenges, Bruhl said, but its strengths create the resources to meet them.
"Our wealthiest residents, who are our highest taxpayers and tend to be among our most generous philanthropists," he said, "are a great example of this fact of Fairfield County life."