Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson saw his net worth decline by $4 billion last month because of the slumping national economy, and that was before Thursday's nearly 679-point stock market meltdown.
The value of Adelson's holdings in the casino company declined again Thursday as shares of Las Vegas Sands fell $2.83, or 16.97 percent on the New York Stock Exchange to close at $13.85.
Between Aug. 29 and Oct. 1, Adelson, once considered the third richest man on the Forbes Magazine 400 list of richest Americans, suffered the steepest drop among those who lost $1 billion or more during the current credit crisis, according to the magazine.
In its Oct. 27 issue, Forbes recalculated the effect of September's financial news on the wealthiest Americans, those who make up its Forbes 400 list. That list was published on Sept. 17. Forbes said Adelson's net worth of $28 billion had lost roughly $13 billion this year, taking the 75-year-old billionaire to 15th place. That number most likely fell again Thursday.
Adelson is the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands, controlling almost 70 percent of the company personally and through his family trusts. The company's shares have lost more than 90 percent of their value since hitting a 52-week high of $148.76 on Oct. 29.
Last week, Adelson and his wife, Miriam Adelson, loaned Las Vegas Sands $475 million through a 6.5 percent convertible note due in 2013. The cash investment helped the company meet its liquidity requirements and avoid triggering a $5 billion loan covenant.
"My wallet's a little thinner," Adelson joked to The Wall Street Journal after the investment was announced.
In September, U.S. stocks swooned as the Bush administration began preparing a $700 billion bank bailout, Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc. filed for a record bankruptcy, American International Group Inc. received an $85 billion loan from the U.S. government and Washington Mutual Inc. became the biggest U.S. bank to fail.
Another casino mogul, MGM Mirage majority shareholder Kirk Kerkorian, saw his wealth decline by $1.2 billion to $10 billion during the same time period.
Kerkorian, a 91-year-old billionaire from Los Angeles, controls roughly 54 percent of the casino company, whose stock has fallen roughly 85 percent since hitting a 52-week high of $100.50 a year ago. MGM Mirage shares closed at $16.26 on the New York Stock Exchange, down $1.49, or 8.39 percent.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett overtook Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates as the richest American by posting an $8 billion gain to $58 billion during the period, the magazine said.
Gates's net worth declined $1.5 billion to $55.5 billion during the 33-day period. He had been first for 15 straight years.
Bloomberg News Service contributed to this story. Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871.