Nelson only RI resident on Forbes 400 Richest Americans listSeptember 20th, 2012 at 1:31 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Nelson’s net worth is $1.7 billion as of this month, up from $1.5 billion earlier this year, Forbes estimates. He used to have company on the list from Hope Hill van Beuren, the Campbell’s Soup heiress who lives in Middletown, but she’s fallen off in recent years.
Nelson, 56, was raised in Providence by an orthodontist, graduated from Brown in 1977, and went on to found ProvEq in 1989. Here’s how Forbes describes the firm’s recipe for success: “Buys media and telecom companies, improves operations, sells for big profit.” ProvEq’s $26 billion portfolio included a stake in Hulu, the streaming TV show hub, until last April.
Nelson and his wife, Judy, live in a $1.5 million home on Providence’s East Side. While Rhode Island’s richest man rarely makes headlines locally, he’s been generous to Brown – funding its new fitness center in 2004 and making a $10 million gift last year – and is on the board for Newport’s iconic jazz and folk festivals.
Nelson still hasn’t topped his peak net worth, which was $2 billion in October 2008, the month after Lehman Bros. collapsed. His fortune bottomed out at $1.35 billion in September 2010, Forbes estimates. He donated $500 to Barack Obama in 2008 and $2,500 to Mitt Romney last year.
An honorary Rhode Island mention goes to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who now owns the Beechwood Mansion in Newport – his $41 billion net worth makes him the third-richest man in America.
• Related: Rhode Island’s one billionaire, ProvEq’s Nelson, backs Doherty (April 16)
A portion of this article was previously published, and did not indicate that Providence Equity Partners sold its stake in Hulu last spring.