This is a version of a story that appears in the June 4, 2012 issue of Forbes Magazine.
Mitt Romney isn’t the richest person to ever run for President – Ross Perot had him beat by a factor of ten. And if he’s elected, inflation adjustments might favor sprawling plantation owners like Washington and Jefferson, or Kennedy if family assets counted. But there’s no denying that in terms of total dollars a President Romney would be the wealthiest White House occupant ever, and would be even wealthier had he not set aside a trust, now worth $100 million, for his 5 boys. So just how rich is he?
Forbes spent the past month trying to answer that question definitively. The core basis for our valuation comes from Romney himself – specifically, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics disclosure forms, which he filed in August 2007 and August 2011, plus discussions with high-level Romney officials familiar with specific changes to his holdings since that last report. Of course, those disclosures, taken at face value, are about as concrete as a campaign promise, with vague asset ranges (“$1 million to $5 million”) and definitions.
Seeking to remove as much guesswork as possible, we assigned a value to every single asset Mitt and Ann Romney own – 184 in all across the couple’s two blind trusts, IRAs and outright holdings. Our core method: noting the shift in ranges between the 2007 filing, the 2011 filing and now (much of his wealth has been consistently held over the whole period). Comparing which assets changed brackets – or didn’t – with their underlying price fluctuation (or in some cases, a good comparable) over that period, we were able to get better estimates of where each fell in the range. Supplemented by a dozen interviews – from local real estate experts to private equity partners – we get a detailed look at the current state of Mitt’s money, pinpointing his net worth at $230 million, split between 9 different asset classes. Highlights include the sale of nearly all of his individual equities – he sold 71 stocks since his last disclosure – and a big move into cash. He now holds $16 million, up from $1 million in August. More details on his net worth and where he invests are outlined below:
Debt Securities: +$91 million
Romney has the biggest chunk of his money invested in debt securities including $36 million worth of Federal Home Loan Banks consolidated obligations and an estimated $10 million worth of structured notes from Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas. In recent months he dumped foreign equities held through Thornburg Investment Management and bought notes from the governments of Canada, Australia and Sweden, giving the former governor some international exposure without the potential political liability of holding foreign companies. Also in this category is a personal loan of approximately $400,000 made to the family’s horse trainer, and a loan secured by a suburban home in Missouri, Tex....MUCH MORE