The mogul has an estimated net worth of $17 billion that comes primarily from his development and property investments in Southern California.
Bren’s privately-held real estate investment company, Irvine Company, has a portfolio of properties that exceeds 110 million square feet and includes office buildings, apartments, marinas, and hotels, most of which is located in picturesque Orange County.
At 83 years old, the former US Marine is still running the show as chairman of Irvine Company — here’s the story behind his success.
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Donald Bren was born in Los Angeles in 1932. His father, a movie producer, and his mother, a patron of the performing arts, divorced when he was 10. His father remarried to an actress and his mother to a well-off industrialist.
Bren and his brother attended Beverly Hills High School and spent their summers working as carpenters for their dad’s real estate development business. A key lesson he learned from his father: “When you hold property over the long term, you’re able to create better values and you have something tangible to show for it,” Bren told the Los Angeles Times in 2011.
Bren earned a partial athletic scholarship to the University of Washington for skiing. He was reportedly a stylish skier and an avid competitor who was set to go to the 1956 Olympics but couldn’t participate because of a broken ankle.