Stephen Schwarzman is the son of a dry goods storeowner in Philadelphia. At 15, he tried unsuccessfully to get his father to expand. It wouldn’t be his last big idea. Years later, in 1985, he and partner Pete Peterson, left Lehman Brothers to launch the Blackstone Group with just $400k. Fast forward 33 years, and Blackstone is the largest buyout firm on the planet, with $333B in assets under management and a record-breaking $7.6B in revenue in 2014.
Meanwhile the man who started it all has dropped more than $100M on personal real estate, like his Park Avenue apartment, a Jamaican villa, and estates in the Hamptons, Palm Beach, and St. Tropez. He's also given $100M each to a Rhodes Scholar-type program in China and to the New York Public Library, and pledged a record $150M to fund a new student commons at his alma mater Yale.