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Net Worth details: Donald Bren made most of his money from Irvine Co., a real estate investment company which is the largest private landowner in the state of California. Irvine Co. owns 46.5 million feet of office property as well as 160 apartment complexes, not to mention retail centers, golf courses, hotel resorts, and marinas. About $6.3 billion of his net worth is from office properties and he owns about $2.1 billion worth of shopping centers and retail properties.
He was born Donald L. Bren on May 11, 1932, in Los Angeles, California. Running Irvine for more than 45 years, Donald Bren has been deeply involved in California real estate as a master planner, master builder and long-term investor. Already holding a bachelor's degree in business administration and economics, he started his business career in 1958 when he founded the Bren Company that built homes in Orange County, California. It was in 1963 that Bren and two others set up the Mission Viejo Company (MVC) as they purchased 10,000 acres to plan and develop the city of Mission Viejo, California. Bren served as the President of MVC from 1963 to 1967. International Paper took over Bren Co. for $34 million in 1970, but then Bren re-acquired it for $22 million in 1972 following a recession. Bren further developed the company and in 1977 he joined a group of investors to purchase the 146-year-old Irvine Company. He was the largest shareholder of the resulting consortium, owning 34.3% of the company and as such he got the title of Vice-chair of the board. By 1983, he was the majority owner of the firm and was elected chairman of the board, while by 1996, he had bought out all remaining shares to become the sole owner. Under Donald Bren, the Irvine Company has built up a property portfolio that exceeds 100 million square feet and includes 480 office buildings, 41 retail centers, 125 apartment communities, three hotels, marinas, and golf clubs, primarily in Orange County, California, with additional investment properties expanding into Los Angeles, San Diego and Silicon Valley. As a community entrepreneur, Bren has also focused his charitable contributions on land preservation and conservation, as well as education and research.