Does Money Grow on Trees? Asking for a Friend.

By Richard Mineards   |   April 22, 2021

Forbes’ 35th annual “World’s Billionaire List” includes a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos topping it for the fourth consecutive year.

This year’s billionaires are worth a combined $13.1 trillion, up $8 trillion from last year.

“The very, very rich got very, very richer,” says Forbes chief content officer Randall Lane.

Needless to say, as usual, residents of our rarefied enclave are prominently featured in the rankings.

Bezos, 57, has a staggering $177 billion, cementing his No. 1 listing, with Tesla tycoon Elon Musk, 49, runner-up with $155 billion, up from 31st in 2020.

Bernard Arnault, 77, chief executive of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, with $164.1 billion; Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 65, with $124 billion; and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 36, with $97 billion round out the top five.

Investor and business tycoon Warren Buffett, 90, business partner of Montecito’s Charlie Munger, 97, with a worth of $99.4 billion, fell out of the top five for the first time in more than two decades, as tech executives dominate the list.

Oracle tycoon Larry Ellison, 76, who has a number of homes in Santa Barbara, ranked No. 7 with $93 billion, while Google honcho Eric Schmidt, 65, who just bought Bill and Sandi Nicholson’s Eucalyptus Hill aerie, is listed at No. 96 with $18.9 billion.

Frequent visitor and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, 78, whose NFL team trains in Oxnard during the summer, is ranked No. 264 with $8.9 billion, while Star Wars creator George Lucas, 76, who owns an expansive beach house on Padaro Lane, is No. 339 on the list with $7.4 billion.

Rosewood Miramar owner Rick Caruso, 62, is No. 680 with $4.2 billion from his real estate empire, while Beanie Baby billionaire Ty Warner, 76, owner of the San Ysidro Ranch and the Four Seasons Biltmore, is at No. 831 with $3.6 billion.

Former TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey, 67, is ranked No. 1,174 with $2.7 billion, while Charlie Munger is No. 1,580 with $2 billion.

Mega vintner Bill Foley, 76, who owns a beach house on Padaro Lane and the Golden Knights hockey team in Las Vegas, is ranked No. 1,664 with $1.9 billion, with Peter Sperling, 61, at No. 1931 with $1.6 billion.

He’s Not Going Far

Having sold his Cape Dutch-style Montecito compound for a hefty $49 million to TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and her actress wife Portia de Rossi, Saturday Night Live comedian Dennis Miller, 67, is downsizing in our rarefied enclave by splashing out $16.3 million for a home just across the road from his old property.

The estate, built in 1986, has a number of structures totaling 6,381 square feet with seven bedrooms and seven and a half bathrooms over five acres.

The main house has four bedrooms with a three-bedroom guest structure, guard houses, and equestrian stables.

The property, nicknamed Gloria, was long owned by University of Phoenix billionaire Peter Sperling, who used it as guest quarters complementing his even larger estate next door.

Sperling sold the property in November 2020 for $15.5 million to a mystery buyer who only held on to the estate for three months before flipping it to Miller and his former model wife, Slim Paley, for $800,000 profit.

Honoring a Glorious Prince

It was a decidedly rude awakening when my producer from CBS in Los Angeles called me at 4 a.m. informing me that Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband for 73 glorious years, had died at Windsor Castle and wanted me to do a five-minute phone interview on his extraordinary legacy.

And so it went, with calls from CNN, Fox News Channel, News Nation in Chicago, and KEYT’s morning anchor Joe Buttitta, wrapping an extraordinary day with a Zoom interview for the CBS early evening news in the Big Orange.

Philip was just two months shy of his 100th birthday.

Given HRH’s funeral is scheduled for St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, on Saturday, I have no doubt my services will be called on again to comment on the solemn ceremonial event that will have all the Royal Family present, including Prince Harry who is winging back to England for the occasion — and hopefully some form of reconciliation with his family after the explosive Oprah Winfrey interview.

I am told wife Meghan Markle will not be accompanying him for medical reasons, with Meghan pregnant with the couple’s second child, a daughter.

Philip, who I met a number of times during my colorful career, is expected to be laid to rest at the royal burial ground at Frogmore, just a short distance from the castle near his great-great grandfather, Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, who lies with the long reigning monarch who gave her name to an age in a magnificently decorated mausoleum.

My abiding memory of the Duke, whose title will now be passed on to his youngest son, Prince Edward, 57, is my last meeting with him in 1998 at a glittering bash hosted by Rolls Royce at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan to launch the Seraph, the first new model in almost two decades, with members of London’s Royal Ballet.

I asked him if he still drove his black taxi and he replied in the affirmative but added that it was now being converted to run on natural gas. In fact, he went on to say, the whole Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, which garages the Queen’s extensive fleet of Rolls Royces and Bentleys, was going green.

A wonderful story which made front page news from the simplest of questions.

Philip was indeed the jewel in the crown and his wife’s rock during their enduring relationship, which started at 13 when as Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of King George VI, she met him as a dashingly handsome 18-year-old cadet at Dartmouth, the British equivalent of Annapolis.

It was an extraordinary spark that was never extinguished, and I cannot imagine how Her Majesty, who marks her 95th birthday later this month, must now be feeling. At least she was by his side as he moved on to more heavenly pastures in the centuries old castle he loved where his mother, Princess Alice of Greece, a great granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who sheltered Jews from the Nazis during World War II, was born.

Paying It Forward

Montecito singer Brad Paisley and his wife, Kimberly, and their Nashville-based philanthropic passion project, The Store — based entirely on the Santa Barbara-based Unity Shoppe’s model of giving and feeding those less fortunate with dignity and choice — is featured as the cover story of this week’s issue of People magazine.

“We took our boys Huck and Jasper to Unity Shoppe to teach them about serving others and giving back to people in need,” says Brad, 48, “And we were carried away by what the organization had taught us.”

“The family has been working hard to replicate the core values of our mission,” says Tom Reed, Unity Shoppe’s executive director. “The work they’ve done to open The Store, especially as the pandemic was taking hold, has inspired us beyond words. We couldn’t be more proud.”

Heir Finds a New Throne

He may own an $8.5 million Beverly Hills estate acquired less than a year ago, but Pritzker family scion Adam Pritzker, 36, and wife, Sophie, are clearly expanding their holdings.

To that end, the eldest son of John Pritzker — and grandson of Hyatt Hotels co-founder Jay Pritzker — has just paid $15.8 million for an idiosyncratic French country-style estate in our Eden by the Beach.

The 16-year-old property consists of three structures totaling 12,000 square feet, seven bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, including guest and pool houses, on four and a half acres.

Adam, a San Francisco native and Columbia Law School graduate, co-founded General Assembly, a for-profit professional development school for adults that he and his partners sold to the Adeco Group for $400 million in 2018.

The estate sits next to comedian and political pundit Dennis Miller’s former home that he sold for $49 million in an all-cash deal with TV talk show host and serial flipper Ellen DeGeneres.

It was owned by retired healthcare CEO turned filmmaker Jeff Barbakow.

There’s a New Sheriff’s Worry in Town

Maybe Prince Harry, 36, is wishing for the top-notch security of his old home at London’s Kensington Palace.

Police have been called to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Montecito estate more than a few times since moving here last July, official figures reveal.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has responded to calls listed as phone requests, alarm activations, and property crimes.

The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information laws by the PA news agency, formerly the Press Association, was released after the tony twosome shared their security fears in the incendiary CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey last month.

Officers were called four times in July, with one call listed as a phone request while the others are labelled “alarm activations” and all occurred in the early hours of the morning.

Two calls were at Christmas, including an alleged trespasser. The most recent, listed as an alarm activation, was in February at 2:21 am.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office declined to comment, as did reps for the royal pair.

Bing’s Search is Over

Danish international fashion designer Anine Bing, who sold her mansion in the charming Los Angeles enclave of Los Feliz for $5.4 million three years ago, has plonked down $8.6 million for a Tuscan-style Montecito estate to share with her husband, Nicolai Nielsen.

The 24-year-old property consists of five bedrooms and seven bathrooms over 5,414 square feet on one acre with a three-car garage.

Born in Denmark and raised in Sweden, Bing moved to the Big Orange at age 21 and used her international background to create her sophisticated fashion label, which includes vintage T-shirts costing $99 each.

The former model and singer, 38, has 11 stores globally, including Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, London, Paris, Sydney, and Berlin.

She’s Booked

Prince Harry’s former actress wife, Meghan Markle, 39, has an avalanche of lucrative deals on the table at their expansive Riven Rock estate.

The Duchess of Sussex has been approached by “numerous publishing houses,” according to an old friend and Vanity Fair’s royals’ writer Katie Nicholl.

Since stepping down as a serving member of Britain’s Royal Family, the former Suits actress has secured lucrative deals, including a contract with Spotify worth up to $40 million and a partnership with Netflix believed to be more than $135 million.

“There are some very serious book deals on the table,” says a close source. “They are all up for consideration.”

Stay tuned…

And You Get a Commencement Speech . . . And You . . . And You . . .

Former TV talk show titan Oprah Winfrey will join singer Miley Cyrus and rapper Lil Nas X at a celebrity-filled, live-streamed graduation next month.

The event will offer a celebration of students whose commencements have been cancelled because of the COVID pandemic.

Entitled “Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020,” the show will feature a keynote speech by our rarefied enclave’s most famous resident, according to Variety.

The event will also feature actress Jennifer Garner, actress-rapper Awkafina, and Olympic gold-medal gymnast Simone Biles.

Oprah, 66, is no stranger to commencement speeches, which she has delivered to many institutions, including Harvard and USC.

Third Time Continues to be the Charm

My congratulations to Montecito actor Michael Keaton for setting a Screen Actors Guild Awards record with the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture ensemble victory for The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Michael, 69, was a part of the winning cast for the third time, as he also captured the collective honors for his contributions to Birdman in 2014 and Spotlight the following year.

“Frankly it’s an embarrassment to me,” he said in a Zoom interview with the Associated Press. “These guys did the heavy lifting. I showed up for a couple of days. I’m getting a credit for not much — but I’ll take it!”

The Aaron Sorkin film details the trial of the group of anti-Vietnam war protesters dubbed the Chicago Seven, also stars Frank Langella, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Mark Rylance.

Jones-ing for More

I’m sorry to hear that Camerata Pacifica’s pianist extraordinaire Warren Jones, 73, is leaving Adrian Spence’s 31-year-old chamber music ensemble.

Warren, who has held the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz chair in piano for 11 years, says: “It is now time to step aside and treasure the fond memories that we have generated together.

“Accordingly, I will not be returning to the stage when Camerata begins in-person performances again.”

Warren, who received the ensemble’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, has partnered with such great performers as Marilyn Horne and Kathleen Battle. He is a long-time faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music and a former faculty member of the Music Academy of the West.

He has performed at the White House a number of times, playing at state dinners in honor of the world leaders from Canada, Russia, and Italy.

An extraordinarily gifted keyboardist and conductor, he graduated from the New England Conservatory and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Warren, who I’ve watched innumerable times at Hahn Hall over more than a decade, will be much missed.

Building Bridges

Montecito actor Don Johnson is coming back to our TV screens in a remake of the hit 1990s TV series, Nash Bridges.

Johnson, 71, who found fame as an undercover police detective in the 1980s NBC TV series Miami Vice, is bringing back Nash Bridges of the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, which ran for six seasons between 1996 and 2000 on CBS.

“We find Nash some years later and Cheech is going to come back and join me,” he told Ellen DeGeneres. “We’ve got a pretty exciting show that we’re prepping in San Francisco right now.”

Cheech Marin played Nash’s partner in the long-running series which has the dynamic duo cruising the streets of Baghdad by the Bay.

In the meantime, we can catch Johnson in the NBC sitcom, Kenan.


Prince Harry on his bicycle checking out the volleyball courts at East Beach… actress Jennifer Garner jogging on Butterfly Beach… actor Rob Lowe swimming in the ocean at Miramar Beach

Pip! Pip! Be safe, wear a mask and get vaccinated.


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