For starters, he’s about as wealthy as someone can possibly get — if not more so, given the nature that the rest of the world has adopted to describe his existence. He’s one of the world’s richest people: His fortune, if all its worth were translated into cash, amounted to some $19.3 billion last year, according to Forbes.
And he’s also a master strategist, having made millions as a manager of companies like McDonald’s, and as co-CEO of the company he cofounded, Advance Publications. Since 2003, he’s earned more than $3.2 billion in fees, stock options, and salary — not surprisingly, his total wealth is about the same as Donald Trump’s.
Now, of course, not all millionaires are created equal. One must consider the social status afforded them; Dunham is a white man who was born and raised in a single-parent household. Plus, the vast majority of wealthy households don’t have the kind of money that would make Dunham a millionaire, let alone a billionaire.
But is it possible that someone with no wealth at all — a man who has just started a new line of books, whose company has never had to report a profit — could be so extraordinarily rich? Maybe.
“I’m in the position of someone who’s being asked to give all this money away and say, ‘Well, why don’t you spend it in some other way?'” Dunham told me over lunch in New York on Friday. “I do realize that the people who have this stuff probably don’t have money. But it’s funny to me that people would think it’s so horrible that the rich don’t have money. Because then they are like, ‘Don’t just give away your money! Why are you wasting it like this?’ I don’t know, it’s so weird.”
While Dunham has never given money away, he once did. In 2001, Dunham and his wife, Amy, had children — including a daughter — and decided to donate their assets to charity. Since the couple’s foundation isn’t allowed to accept gift and estate taxes, the couple instead asked the IRS to dissolve it and then distribute their money in an anonymous way.
The Dunhams have sold their holdings to benefit causes, but for most of their life, Dunham’s generosity has gone unrecognized. His generosity, though, seems to be working, at least in his chosen field. His book deal alone, $5.5 million, has been reported as the
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