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Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

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    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    As we draw to the end of this economic cycle (or so we're told), Bisnow took at look at the Forbes real estate billionaires whose fortunes have grown most, based on their pre- and post-recession net worths. Here are the top 10.

    1 of 11

    Wang Jianlin, China

    Wang Jianlin
    Dalian Wanda Group founder Wang Jianlin

    Age: 61

    Pre-recovery net worth: $4.6B

    Current net worth: $27B 

    Wang Jianlin holds the title of China's richest man. (And he's quite the singer, as well.) A self-made man with a military background, Jianlin is the founder and chairman of Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, a real estate empire with 125 shopping plazas, 68 five-star hotels and major US investments. In the years following the recession, he took advantage of China's economic growth to expand his empire to the US: in 2012, he acquired movie-theater chain AMC Entertainment, along with 346 locations in North America.

    2 of 11

    Joseph Lau, Hong Kong

    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    Age: 64

    Pre-recovery net worth: $6.3B

    Current net worth: $13.5B

    The Hong Kong-based investor has amassed a true fortune as a controlling shareholder of Chinese Estates Holdings. At the tail end of the recession, Lau invested in assets in safe havens like England: In 2011, for instance, he bought Goldman Sach’s London headquarters for $444M. In March 2014, he stepped down as chairman of Chinese Estates after being convicted in Macau for bribery and money laundering. Since Hong Kong and Macau don't have an extradition treaty, Lau remains free—and he's making headlines for his exuberant purchases of modern art pieces and eye-poppingly large diamonds. 

    3 of 11

    Lee Shau Kee, Hong Kong

    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    Age: 87

    Pre-recovery net worth: $19B

    Current net worth: $22.8B

    As the founder and chairman of Henderson Land Development, Lee Shau Kee is one of the biggest real estate players in Hong Kong. His empire ranges from property development to hotels to energy—and his fortune has continued to grow, despite Hong Kong's attempts to cool the market with higher property taxes for foreign buyers. 

    4 of 11

    Cheng Yu-tung, Hong Kong

    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    Age: 90

    Pre-recovery net worth: $9B

    Current net worth: $14.4B

    Another self-made billionaire, Cheng Yu-tung's career started in 1970 with a jewelry business, Chow Tai Fook. Today, the jewelry enterprise is only a small part of The New World Development, a vast empire of residential projects in mainland China, telecommunications services, and the Rosewood Hotel Group.

    5 of 11

    David and Simon Reuben, United Kingdom

    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    Age: 75 and 72

    Pre-recovery net worth: $8B

    Current net worth: $12.5B

    Since the early 2000s, the dealmaking Reuben brothers focused their business efforts on real estate in the United Kingdom. Among their famous properties are the Millbank Tower and Oxford Airport in London. During the recession, soaring property values in London helped boost the overall wealth of the bro-llionaires. In addition, the Reubens own GlobalSwitch, a network of 10 data centers in European key markets and the East Asian Pacific region. 

    6 of 11

    Andrew Beal, United States

    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    Age: 63

    Pre-recovery net worth: $6.6B

    Current net worth: $10.7B

    Andy Beal's first real estate venture started in 1981, when he bought two dilapidated apartment buildings in Newark, NJ, for a measly $25k, selling both buildings two years later for $3.2M. Since then, the founder of Beal Bank has made a fortune buying distressed assets. The same strategy worked wonders during the the 2008 global credit crisis: while hedge funds dumped assets to raise money for panicked investors, Beal snapped up millions worth of commercial and real estate loans that had plunged in value; his net income spiked to $559M in 2009 from $281M in 2008. And guess what? He's done so well during the recession, he even gave Donald Trump a $600M loan for casino bankruptcies.

    7 of 11

    Pan Sutong, Hong Kong

    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    Age: 52

    Pre-recovery net worth: N/A

    Current net worth: $9.5B

    Born in China, but raised in California, the chairman of real estate development firm Goldin Group broke into the industry fairly recently. In 2008, he acquired 220 acres in Tianjin, where he's building China's tallest building—Goldin Finance 117— as the centerpiece of a $10B development project. He capitalized on China's rapid recovery from the recession to expand his holdings, including the acquisition of famous vineyards in France. His Goldin Group also controls consumer electronics brand Matsunichi, which makes karaoke TV monitors, MP3 players and tablets.

    8 of 11

    Donald Bren, United States

    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    Age: 83

    Pre-recovery net worth: $12B

    Current net worth: $15.2B

    The richest real estate mogul in the United States, Donald has spent his whole life in real estate, building his empire on master planned communities in Southern California. During the recession, he profited from tax incentives for buyers in 2009 and 2010 to get an early jump on a new homes rebound, selling thousands of residences in north Irvine and Silicon Valley. Though most of his fortune is on the West Coast, Donald has built a 97.3% ownership stake in the iconic 58-story MetLife Building in Manhattan.

    9 of 11

    Peter Woo, Hong Kong

    Top 10 Forbes Real Estate Billionaires Who've Made A Killing This Cycle

    Age: 69

    Pre-recovery net worth: $5.1B

    Current net worth: $7.2B

    A Shanghai-born entrepreneur, Peter Woo's fortune is built on real estate properties spread across Hong Kong, China and Singapore. As the chairman of Wheelock & Co, Woo owns several investment properties such as Harbour City—a major shopping mall in Hong Kong—and controls telecom, port and retailing assets, including the high-end luxury retail chain Lane Crawford.

    10 of 11

    Stephen Ross, United States

    Age: 75

    Pre-recovery net worth: $3.1B

    Current net worth: $6.5B

    The Related Cos chairman is behind some of the largest real estate projects in the country. His Hudson Yards in New York—a $15B development on Manhattan's West Side—is the country's biggest private real estate project. In addition, Hunter's Point South in Queens will be the largest affordable housing complex built in New York since the '70s. The recession didn't stop Ross from entering major deals: working with Deutsche Bank, he rescued a number of troubled projects in NY, and even purchased a 95% stake in the Miami Dolphins for $1B.