How rich is Theodore J. Forstmann?
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A billionaire, Forstmann was a Republican as well as a philanthropist. He supported school selection and financed scholarship programs for the deprived. He directed a tour of refugee camps in the former Yugoslavia.
Forstmann was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, the second of six kids. He was the son of Dorothy (ne Mercadante) and Julius Forstmann, who ran a wool company that went broke in 1958. Julius had inherited Forstmann Woolen Co. from his own dad, one of the world’s wealthiest men. Forstmann had German and Italian roots. He was a graduate of Greenwich Country Day School and Phillips Academy. Forstmann afterwards attended Columbia Law School where he earned a juris doctorate, which he funded through gambling profits. Under Forstmann’s leaders, Forstmann Little & Company made 31 acquisitions and substantial investments and returned more than $15 billion of gains to investors. While playing golf in the late 1980s, Ted Forstmann accidentally coined the term that he became best known. His golf associate inquired Forstmann what it meant to get an organization to be taken over with a buyout company. “It means the barbarians are in the gates,” answered Forstmann. The term became part of Wall Street lore and was linked inseparably to the private equity business that Forstmann initiated and thrived in. Forstmann was featured prominently in the book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, as he along with his firm tried to get RJR Nabisco. In the following film adaptation, he was portrayed by actor David Rasche. The novel described Forstmann as a critic of KKR’s Henry Kravis and his investment strategies.