A list of the ten wealthiest Black Americans reveals only one relatively unknown, Quinto Primo III. Who be he? Well, to begin with, he’s worth about $300 million, 55, and made his money in real estate.
A graduate of Harvard University, where he used his finesse on trumpet to help pay his tuition, and later earning a MBA, Primo is a minister’s son who grew up in Chicago. After learning the ropes in real estate lending, he, along with his partner Daryl Carter, founded Capri Capital in 1992.
The business quickly returned profits by lending to small borrowers the larger companies viewed as risks.
Capri Capital has a diversity of clients but apartment complexes are at the core of its portfolio. In 2006, the firm shelled out $136 million to acquire ownership of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. A year later, Carter departed, leaving Primo as the chairman and CEO.
Among its key investments is a $2 billion venture to build hotels, office towers, and condos in Saudi Arabia, abutting one of the king’s “economic zones.” Plans are also underway with backing from the U.S. Treasury to launch construction projects in the nation’s distressed areas.
The rest of the top nine are familiar faces and for several years—if not decades—are usually found among the richest Black Americans.
Oprah Winfrey. Actually all you have to say is Oprah because she is certainly among America’s few one name icons. With the launching her new television network, OWN, Oprah, 55, has feathered her impressive and lavish nest even more, adding financial capital to her reported $2.7 billion net worth. Other than stating she is a media maven of immense power and resource little else need to be said as her empire expands beyond magazines, television, and charitable causes.
At last count, Tiger Woods was worth about $600 million but the thirty-three-year old top ranked golfer has watched his prowess on the fairway diminish and this has certainly slowed the flow of greenbacks to his bankroll. Nonetheless, he remains up to par when it comes to overall wealth among Black Americans, and what he fails to earn on the links will probably be made up in endorsements, though they too may have suffered as he struggles to renew his place at the top of the leader board, following a rancorous domestic downfall.
For many years Bob Johnson has ranked among the richest Black Americans, but he is no longer viewed as a billionaire, his overall net worth a little over half of what it was at $550 million. But you can never count Johnson, 63 out of the money race because he was always in the mix and circling major investment projects, a position he maintains through his reputation has a shrewd dealmaker and investment counselor. Isn’t this the man that built the BET and chartered the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats? Nope, Johnson will be at the big bucks table for years to come.
Slam dunks and crossover dribbles were Michael Jordan’s tools of a trade he took to another plateau of success and perfection, and the maestro on the court has made an equally remarkable role in the business realm. His Airness’s net worth two years ago was recorded at $525 million as one of the principal owners of the Charlotte Bobcats the income is steady, if not overwhelming. And of course, Jordan, 46, will never be hurting for cash as long as he continues to be among the most sought after promotional icons, to say nothing of the wealth he has amassed as the poster boy for Nike.
Equally adept on the court with a ball in his hand like a yo-yo was Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr. and that magic apparently has not been limited to no-look passes and skyhooks. Magic, 49, rings the register of worth at $500 million, most of it acquired through his wise investments in real estate, restaurants, and movie theaters. Discussing his business deals and partnerships are almost as expansive as his basketball resume that includes a Hall of Fame induction. After being diagnosed with HIV, Magic has been totally dedicated to fighting the disease, pouring time, money, and energy into various institutions and organizations in quests of prevention and cure.
Bill Cosby, Jr., 71, is an American original whose versatility in show business is practically without peer. His career as an actor, standup comedian, television personality, educator, and philanthropist places him not only among the wealthiest Black Americans—his net worth currently at or around $450 million—but he is highly respected across the race and color line. His gift of $20 million to Spelman College several years ago earned him the kind of plaudits and applause that greets him wherever he chooses to appear. And this gift is merely the most reported because there are many scholars, activists, and entrepreneurs who count themselves among his beneficiaries.
More than half of the marriages in America end up in divorce and this something that Sheila Johnson, 60, experienced first hand. Her marriage came to end with Bob Johnson after 33 years and the settlement left her in reasonably good financial shape, and today her net worth hovers at $400 million. She has investments up the kazoo, from luxury resorts to professional sport teams, including the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, where she is president and managing partner.
Donahue Peebles, 49, is only slightly better known and little younger than Quinto Primo, but his net worth is a bit larger at $350 million. He accumulated his wealth through real estate, particularly through a portfolio of holdings in the nation’s capital and Miami Beach. And don’t leave out the prime land he owns in Las Vegas and southern California. Authoring books in which he dispenses some of the secrets of his success is also another way to pad his bank account.
The oldest on the list and who’s been around the longest in the realm of movers and shakers is Berry Gordy, Jr. At 79, Gordy shows no signs of going peacefully out to pasture, determined not to allow any grass to grow under his meanderings that have taken him to the top of the entertainment business and showing, at the moment, a net worth of $325 million. Though the music mogul, who founded Motown Records in the late fifties, has sold off most of his businesses, he still retains enough risk capital for investments in which he rarely makes without envisioning and realizing a profit.