Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Ted Turner: Gone with the Wind

... This is the grandiose and profane Ted Turner we have come to expect in the nearly 30 years since he first burst onto the public stage, a brash young man with a big mouth and crazy ideas. He still has both of those, but he's now troubled by a new sensation: a feeling that he's lost control.

He gets that feeling when he's thinking, which he often is, about his fortune. Or what's left of it. As AOL Time Warner stock tumbled 81% from its high in 2000 to $13, Turner's holdings declined from $10.7 billion to $1.4 billion, in shares he owns directly or controls. That's a drop of over $9 billion. But Turner sold--and mainly gave away--large amounts of stock in the interim, bringing his actual losses down to about $8.5 billion ...

He has only one other significant investment: land, of which he owns more than anyone else in America. With his 1.9 million acres, his 45 million remaining shares in AOL, and his new hoard of cash, Turner's net worth exceeds $2 billion. But this figure belies his poverty, he says. Remember when he pledged $1 billion to the United Nations? That was in 1997--when the world was, as he marveled at the time, "awash in money" and when his Time Warner holdings had appreciated by that amount in just nine months. He still owes more than $600 million to his UN Foundation. So he is, by his count, down to his last billion ... >>Full story...

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