Bay State Billionaires
Massachusetts billionaires’ wealth surges 46 percent during the pandemic
Chuck Collins | Omar Ocampo
It’s no secret that billionaires have seen their wealth surge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both globally and nationally, the pandemic has seen billionaire wealth reach record heights.
Several billionaires from the Bay State have led the pack.
This report looks at the growing wealth of billionaires and other ultra-high net worth individuals in Massachusetts — where voters will have the opportunity to levy a 4 percent surtax on those making more than $1 million a year this November.
As in the rest of the country, the growing wealth of the Bay State’s most well-off residents contrasts sharply with the pandemic struggles of its working people. One year into the pandemic, over 2 million Massachusetts residents reported loss of employment income. And this spring, over half a million experienced a loss of income due to lost jobs or hours.
The Institute for Policy Studies has been tracking billionaire wealth gains throughout the pandemic. Here’s what we’ve found in Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts is home to 21 billionaires. As of May 27, 2022, their total wealth is $78.36 billion.
- This is a staggering 311,000 times the median household wealth of Massachusetts residents.
- Their combined wealth has increased $24.6 billion, or 45.9 percent, in the past 26 months.
- Massachusetts has the sixth most billionaires in the country — only California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois have more.
- Massachusetts has at least 804 “ultra-high net worth” individuals with assets over $30 million.
- The total combined wealth of these ultra-rich residents is $224 billion.
- That’s about 895,000 times more wealth than the median household in Massachusetts.
- Nearly half of the state’s billionaires come from three industries: finance, technology, and health care.
- These three industries, together, make up more than half of all billionaire wealth in the state.
- The richest person in the Commonwealth is Abigail Johnson, with $20.7 billion. She is currently the the CEO of Fidelity Investments and owns a 24.5 percent stake in the corporation.
- The biggest asset gainer during the pandemic is Edward Johnson IV, whose wealth increased by 157.7 percent throughout the pandemic to $6.1 billion. He is the younger brother of Abigail.
- The Bay State has added five new billionaires since March 18, 2020. Their total wealth is $9.9 billion.
- They are financier Robert Hale Jr., energy magnate George Sakellaris, and vaccine-maker Moderna’s Timothy Springer, Noubar Afeyan, and Robert Langer
According to our analysis of Forbes data published in its 34th and 36th annual global billionaire lists, an estimated 2,668 global billionaires saw their wealth increase from $8 trillion to $12.7 trillion between March 2020 and March 2022, a gain of 58.7 percent.
U.S. billionaires fared even better, seeing their wealth increase 59.4 percent during this 24-month period. The Bay State’s billionaires are no exception.
In addition to being one of the wealthiest states in the nation, Massachusetts ranks sixth in the country in the number of billionaires. Only California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois have more.
Massachusetts is also positioned eighth in the number of billionaires per 500,000 residents, ranking above Texas and Illinois.
As a class, the total wealth of Bay State billionaires is currently at $78 billion. This is a staggering 311,000 times more than the median household wealth of Massachusetts residents, which was at $251,000 in 2019.
Their wealth has increased by more than $24 billion, or 45.9 percent, in the past two years. These gains are tremendous, even with the market volatility of the last three months.
Finance accounts for 42.7 percent of all billionaire wealth in Massachusetts at $33.4 billion. Technology and health care are also prominent industries. These three industries combined account for more than half of all billionaire wealth at $44 billion.
Abigail Johnson is the wealthiest person in the state with $20.7 billion. Her two siblings, Edward Johnson IV and Elizabeth Johnson, have also done extraordinarily well these past two years by doubling their net worth. Johnson IV’s wealth increased an astonishing 157.7 percent.
Every billionaire in the state of Massachusetts with the exception of three — Alan Trefler, Phillip T. Ragon, and Patrizio Vinciarelli — has seen their net worth increase since mid-March 2020.
Two additional billionaires, Niraj Shah and Steve Conine, both of Wayfair, have come on and off Forbes’ list due to the recent market fluctuations. We can safely expect them to rejoin the Bay State’s billionaire class within the next couple of months, if not sooner.
These billionaires are part of a bigger group of 804 ultra-high net worth individuals in the state with $30 million or more in wealth. Their combined wealth in February 2022 was $224.5 billion, or about 895,000 times more than the median household in Massachusetts.
All this gives us a small glimpse into the extraordinary levels of wealth concentration and inequality that currently exist in the Bay State.
You can find profiles of the Bay State’s 21 billionaires in the full PDF of this report.