Never one to shy away from controversy, Carl Icahn is a renowned activist investor as the owner of Icahn Enterprises, a diversified conglomerate based in Florida. As a famed American investor, Icahn has accumulated billions in net worth thanks to the success of his brand, as well as the numerous smart investments he has made over the years. As of 2024, following a substantial drop in Carl Icahn’s net worth due to a major controversy, his fortune is $14.6 billion.

Icahn’s fortune sank by a reported 41% after the short-selling activist fund Hindenburg Research targeted the billionaire investor’s company. He is among several business celebrities that Hindenburg went after in 2023, along with Jack Dorsey and Gautam Adani. While Adani is rapidly getting back on his feet after a favorable decision from the Supreme Court, we are yet to see what will happen with the Hindenburg research on Carl Icahn.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest investors on Wall Street and a prominent hedge fund manager, Icahn has an intriguing story behind his wealth. Let’s dig into how he made those billions in his net worth.

Carl Icahn’s Net Worth Breakdown:

Carl Icahn’s work in the investment world is hard to track, especially since he has been making major trades and investments since he founded his first company. Pinpointing his net worth has become even more complicated since the latest controversy and stock drop after the Hindenburg report. Still, we’ve managed to find information on what contributes to his net worth today, as well as his assets and the majority of his stake.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Motorola Solutions stake $4.8 billion, approx. 14.5 million shares
Icahn Enterprises LR (IEP) stake $6 billion, 85%
Cheniere Energy Inc stake $3.8 billion, approx. 23.6 million shares
Hindenburg Report impact -$10 billion
Real estate $44 million
Total Net Worth $14.6 billion

Carl Icahn Net Worth: Early Life

Carl Celian Icahn was born on February 16, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York City, to father Michael Icahn, a substitute teacher, and mother Bella Icahn, a school teacher. He was raised in the Far Rockaway neighborhood in Queens, where he attended Far Rockaway High School.

After his high school graduation, young Carl Icahn enrolled in Princeton University to study philosophy. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1957. He then entered New York University School of Medicine but didn’t complete his education there since he dropped out after two years and joined the military reserve force.

Icahn married ballerina Liba Trejbal in 1979 after telling her he would marry her if she signed a pre-nuptial agreement while she was pregnant. The pair had two children, Brett and Michelle. Trejbal sued to invalidate the pre-nup in 1993, claiming she was under duress when she signed it and the divorce was settled in 1999. That same year, Icahn married his assistant, Gail Golden.

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Carl Icahn Net Worth: From Investing Capital to Courting Controversy

By forming Icahn Enterprises and building up his stock portfolio to bring him billions, Carl Icahn has become one of the biggest stars in the world of investing. Here is how he became one of the most successful people in corporate America.

Career Beginnings

Icahn started his career as a stockbroker at the Dreyfus Corporation in 1961. Two years later, he landed the role of options manager for Tessel, Patrick & Co., followed by his time at Gruntal & Co.

When he left his third job in 1968, he had saved $150,000. He combined this money with a $400,000 investment from his uncle, M. Elliot Schnall, and bought himself a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

Not long after he made his purchase, Carl Icahn formed his first venture, Icahn & Co., which focused on risk arbitrage and options trading.

The Rise of Icahn Enterprises

On February 17, 1987, Icahn incorporated Icahn Enterprises L.P., now an American conglomerate headquartered at Milton Tower in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. He still owns 85% of the business.

In 1978, Carl Icahn made his first takeover attempt when he obtained a controlling stake in Tappan, an appliance company. Consequently, he forced the sale of Tappan to Electrolux, a deal that made him a profit of $2.7 million, doubling his investment.

A year later, Icahn acquired Bayswater Realty and Capital Corporation. Following this purchase, he acquired AFC Industries and sold his shares at the company to Phillips Petroleum for a profit of $50 million in 1985.

At this point, the young trader had already developed a reputation as a corporate raider profiting from hostile takeovers and asset stripping. He became widely known when he stripped the assets of the American airline Trans World Airlines in 1985. He systematically sold the company’s assets to repay the money he borrowed to buy TWA.

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Three years after this brilliant move, Icahn took TWA private and made a profit of $469 million. TWA was left with a debt of $540 million and Carl Icahn came closer to making his first billion.

Fast forward to 1991, when Icahn sold TWA’s London routes to American Airlines for $445 million. He also formed a website lowestfares.com, where he sold TWA tickets, and acquired an unknown portion of Global Leisure Travel to merge into it.

Not every attempt at a hostile takeover was a success, though. In late 1986, Icahn launched a $7 billion hostile takeover to get an 89% stake in US Steel. However, the bid was dropped at the beginning of the following year. Nevertheless, when he sold his stake in the company in 1991, he made a $200 million profit.

June 1989 saw Icahn make the largest share sale on the New York Exchange at the time when he sold his Texaco stake for $2 billion, which delivered a $700 million profit for him.

Investments between 1990 and 2000

In 1990, Icahn opted to acquire Pan Am airline, offering $375 million, but this purchase was unsuccessful. Eight years later, he once again bid for the same company, offering $43 million.

In 1994, he bought a 6.6% stake in Western Company of North America as the brand was in the process of being acquired by BJ Services. Three years later, he sold his 7.3% stake in RJR Nabisco, making a $125 million profit from the sale.

That same year, Icahn acquired a controlling stake in Marvel Comics.

Investments between 2001 and 2010

By the middle of 2001, Icahn had set his mind on buying shares of GenesisInterMedia. His Riverdale LLC brand lent the company $100 million to get the opportunity to buy 5.5 million shares of the company for $5.09 a share.

In the following years, Icahn decided to start raising money to form a hedge fund he named Icahn Partners, which ended up being successful when he gathered $3 billion in investments. He also beat Mylan in the fight to acquire King Pharmaceuticals, once again using his hostile tactics by buying a large chunk of stock and threatening them with a proxy fight.

In 2005, Icahn faced a major glitch when XO Communications, a company where he was a major stakeholder and chairman at the time, announced that they intended to sell the wired part of the company to Icahn for $700 million. If this happened, Icahn would own the wired business in addition to his 60% stake in XO.

However, despite the board of directors deciding that this was in the best interest of the company, minority shareholders such as R2 blocked the transaction through a Delaware Court in 2008, which also awarded penalties for damages due to a “conflict of interest”.

Some other investments he made during this time include:

  • 2007: 9.2% stake in Telik
  • 2006 – 2009: 11.3% stake in Take-Two Interactive
  • 2007: 6.1 million shares of WCI Communities
  • 2007: $2.3 billion takeover of Lear Corporation
  • 2007: $50 million investment in Moticity
  • 2007: increased stake in BEA Systems to 13.22%
  • 2007: Increased stake in Biogen (details unknown)
  • 2008: Acquired a large portion of shares in Yahoo!, followed by him joining the board with two other people of his choice. In October of the following year, he resigned from the board of directors and reduced his stake to 12 million shares
  • 2010: Acquired the Fontainebleau Las Vegas for $150 million through a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises LP, selling it again in 2016
  • 2010: Bought an 8.54% stake in Lawson Software
  • 2010: Increased his stake in Mentor Graphics to 14%
fontainbleu vegas
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Icahn earned $1 billion from his previous purchase in 2007 when he sold his interest in Nevada casinos operated through American Casino and Entertainment Properties, a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises for $1.3 billion.

In 2009, Icahn engaged in a proxy battle for Amylin, which still continues to this day.

Investments between 2011 and 2024

In January 2011, Icahn attempted to buy Clorox for $10.2 billion and while he didn’t succeed, he did accumulate a 9.08% stake in the company by the following month.

A year later, he reported that he owned a 10% stake in Netflix. While he sold about half of his shares in Netflix this same year, he reportedly still has a stake in the business. This would turn out to be one of his best investments to date as the stock is now worth nearly 20 times more.

By April 2013, he had a 9.2% stake in Nuance Communication, and a few months later, he sued Dell and its board members to derail a buyout bid by Michael Dell, the company’s CEO, in favor of his own bid.

These are not the only major companies he has a stake in through Icahn enterprises or subsidiaries. In October of that same year, he already had 4.7 million shares in Apple Inc. and 61 million shares in Talisman Energy. In 2014, he invested $500 million to buy more stock in Apple Inc.

In 2015, Carl Icahn made a $100 million investment in the ride-sharing service Lyft. That same year, he swapped his stake in eBay for a stake in PayPal Holdings. He also had a 7.13% stake in Xerox at the time, making him the second-largest investor in the company.

Some other investments of this period include:

  • 2016 and 2017: Increased his stake in Herbalife Nutrition to at least 21%
  • 2016: Increased his stake in The Hertz Corporation. He sold his entire 39% stake in the company in May 2020, losing $2 billion on the investment
  • 2017: Acquired a 9.7% stake in Conduent

In February 2022, Icahn held 200 shares in McDonald’s, so he nominated two people for election to McDonald’s board of directors. However, this was seen as a way to pressure the company and move toward a proxy fight so in May of that same year, only 1% of McDonald’s shareholders voted in favor of the nominees he put forward.

Icahn claimed he was trying to pressure the company to improve the conditions of pigs raised by suppliers, but McDonald’s claimed it has already been handling these issues since a pledge in 2012.

February 2024 saw Icahn reveal he had taken a 10% stake in JetBlue, saying that the stock was undervalued. The company hasn’t made a profit since 2020, yet the share price saw a bump of over 9% when Icahn talked about his interest in the company. He has since won two seats on the company’s board.

The Hindenburg Research and Icahn’s Net Worth Drop

In May 2023, short-seller Hindenburg Research released a report that was detrimental to the strength of Icahn Enterprises and the net worth of the billionaire investor. Hindenburg alleged that the company of the Wall Street maestro inflated asset valuations and used Ponzi-like economic structures to move money from new to old investors.

The report also claims that Icahn took out loans against most of his holdings and that these can be called should the stock price decrease. It’s important to note that while reports from short-selling activist funds like Hindenberg should be investigated and often have merit, they should also be taken with a grain of salt. They have tremendous financial motives to make their targets fail.

The same day the report was released, the share price of the company dropped by 20%, and Icahn’s net worth dropped by around $10 billion.

share prices hindenberg impact
Icahn wasn’t the first billionaire to be targeted by Hindenburg – he was one of the billionaires or hedge fund investors who fell prey to the short-seller, alongside Jack Dorsey of Block Inc. and India’s Gautam Adani.

In a statement in response, Icahn called this report “self-serving” and “intended solely to generate profits of Hindenburg’s short position”. Of course, this is probably true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Hindenburg’s research is wrong. Icahn said that he was bracing for a fight and planned to defend his business empire, but that the drop in stake value didn’t affect him a whole lot.

“People come and ask me, ‘How do you feel?’ Maybe it sounds strange, but it doesn’t really affect me a whole lot. It’s my nature,” Icahn said in the interview published by SMH. Despite the crash, Icahn is still an extremely wealthy man who will no doubt survive the debacle without much trouble.

On May 2023, following the scandal and drop, Icahn Enterprises issued a public statement regarding the short seller Hindenburg Research report, stating the following:

“We believe the self-serving short seller report published by Hindenburg Research today was intended solely to generate profits on Hindenburg’s short position at the expense of IEP’s long-term unitholders. We stand by our public disclosures and we believe that IEP’s performance will speak for itself over the long term as it always has. Today, IEP operates from a position of strength with approximately $2 billion of cash and cash-equivalents on its balance sheet as of March 31, 2023, to execute on our strategy,”

Carl Icahn Net Worth: Philanthropy

Over the years, the “Lone Wolf of Wall Street,” Carl Icahn, has built an image as a major philanthropist. Thanks to his numerous donations, several buildings are now named after him, including Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, New York City, and the Carl C. Icahn Center for Science at Choate Rosemary Hall. Icahn’s organization pays around $400,000 every year to cover tuition, books, supplies, and more for 10 selected students.

Carl C Icahn Center for Science
Icahn also made a significant contribution to his alma mater, Princeton University, when he funded a genomics laboratory – which also holds his name. He donated $20 million for the laboratory.

In addition to this, he has made large contributions to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, which named a building The Icahn Medical Institute and renamed their school the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2013.

He makes many of these donations through his foundation called the Children’s Rescue Fund, which built a 65-unit complex for homeless families named Icahn House.

In 2010, Carl Icahn joined the famous Giving Pledge list where rich people promise to give away over half of their fortune during their lifetime. This list includes Ray Dalio, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, and Larry Page, among others.

Awards and Accolades

As one of the biggest names in the investment world, Carl Icahn has won many awards and received honorable mentions over the years, including:

  • Golden Plate Award in 1984 by the American Academy of Achievement
  • Founders Award and Man of the Year Award by Starlight Foundation in 1990
  • Guardian Angel 2001 award for Man of the Year
  • Honored with the 100 Women in Hedge Funds Affecting Change Award in 2006

Carl Icahn Net Worth: Other Investments and Assets

Unsurprisingly, over 70% of Icahn’s investments are in the publicly traded Icahn Enterprises holding company. The business owns subsidiaries in energy, investments, automotive, packaging, real estate, and more.

For the most part, the billionaire investor does his activist investing through the company and its investment arm Icahn Capital Management LP. Through Icahn Enterprises, he has over $4.2 billion invested in companies like Xerox, Herc Holding, FirstEnergy Corporation, Southwest Gas, and more.

Today, the publicly traded Icahn Enterprises owns several businesses including:

  • Pep Boys
  • American Railcar Industries
  • CVR
  • PSC Metals
  • Viskase
  • WestPoint Home
  • Vivus
  • Ferrous Resources

At least 10% of Icahn’s investments are in CVR Energy, where he owns 10%, while Icahn Enterprises owns 71%.

As for other ventures, back in 1985, Icahn established a horse breeding operation called Foxfield Thoroughbreds. In 1992, Foxfield ended the racing operation and turned into a commercial breeder. At this point, it had bred over 140 graded-stakes racehorses.

However, in 2004, Icahn decided to shut down this venture and sold his assets in it at the Keeneland Sales breeding stock auction.

Real Estate

Icahn’s primary residence is on an exclusive Florida island near a property owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. He has owned a property in Miami’s exclusive Creek Village Island since 1997. The property is valued at around $44.37 million.

carl icahn home
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However, because of the latest crisis, he has been spending a lot of time in his East Hampton Estate.

What Can We Learn from Carl Icahn’s Story?

Carl Icahn, the famous corporate raider and activist investor, has a lot to teach us, especially those who wish to dabble in the trade and investment world. He is known for his controversial decisions, demonstrating that stepping out of your comfort zone can turn out to be very successful as long as you have the knowledge, courage, and enough data to make a smart decision. His ruthlessness is a major driver of his tremendous success, even though it isn’t always pretty.

Through his illustrious career, Icahn has achieved many milestones such as purchasing a stake in major companies like Netflix and founding the hedge fund Icahn Partners. His holding company has grown into one of the biggest and most profitable on the market, all thanks to his innovative business strategies and willingness to take risks.

This willingness to take risks has earned Icahn a reputation as a force to be reckoned with, which is not at all a bad name to hold in a competitive world. By identifying undervalued assets, as well as advocating reforms, he has driven more value in companies like Dell, Netflix, Apple, and eBay. His strategy and skills mirror that of the world-renowned investor Warren Buffet so it’s no surprise he has been so successful.

While we are yet to see how he will resolve the latest controversy, Carl Icahn’s remarkable career has solidified his position as a titan in the industry.