Soros joins Forbes top 10 U.S. billionaires list

Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:41pm EDT
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By Paula Rogo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investor George Soros, at 81, has for the first time made the list of the 10 wealthiest Americans, Forbes Magazine reported on Wednesday in the 2011 edition of its annual rich list.

Less surprising, Bill Gates again topped the list with a net worth of $59 billion, up $5 billion. The Microsoft founder has been the wealthiest American every year since 1994.

Everyone in the top 20 saw their wealth rise in the past year with the exception of investor Warren Buffett, whose fortune fell by $6 billion to $39 billion as the value of his shares in Berkshire Hathaway dropped.

Buffett has urged U.S. President Barack Obama to tax millionaires more and has pledged to give away 99 percent of his fortune to philanthropic causes.

Coming in at No. 7, Soros had a fortune of $22 billion after adding $7.8 billion to his net worth thanks to investments in gold and related securities as well as equities. Soros switched to cash in the spring, allowing him to preserve his gains and miss market turmoil caused by the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.

This summer, Soros announced he would close his hedge fund and give money back to outside investors, focusing on managing investments for himself and his family instead.

Forbes said hedge funds are notoriously secretive and that after he shut his fund, Soros shared more information with the magazine about his wealth.

"We always thought we were low on our estimates of him, but this time we had more details bringing him to No. 7," said Forbes Senior Wealth Editor Luisa Kroll.   Continued...

<p>Billionaire financier George Soros speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York September 15, 2010. S REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>