In case you're wondering, that unmarked, all-white Boeing 737 that Bill Clinton took to North Korea - and which returned the former president and those two American journalists this morning - is owned by real estate heir and Hollywood producer Stephen Bing. (Here's the NYT story) Bing happens to be a buddy of Clinton's (not to mention a major contributor to the Democratic Party and Clinton's foundation). The use of a private plane was an important signal to North Korea that Clinton was acting as a private citizen. Bing, by the way, wound up No. 38 on the Business Journal's most recent list of richest Angelenos (he was not on the Forbes list of 400 richest Americans).
Net Worth: $1.01 Billion +4%
Last Year: $970 Million
Age: 43 • Residence: Beverly Hills
Source of Wealth: Inheritance,
The Money: "Beowulf" became a surprise hit for Bing's Shangri-La Productions, but its $150 million budget meant that it barely broke even. The scion of the Bing New York real estate empire is presumed to have recorded some investment gains, though the slowing economy nibbled away at those gains in the first few months of 2008.
Buzz: Landed a minor role in the Anthony Pellicano epic: The snoop once snatched Bing's dental floss from a garbage can for a paternity test - in keeping with Bing's playboy reputation. The billionaire bachelor has fathered children with actress Elizabeth Hurley and Lisa Bonder Kerkorian and has new squeeze in rock singer Sheryl Crow. Meanwhile, Bing has assumed a low profile this political cycle. Offered early support for Hillary Clinton, but sums paled in comparison to the $49 million put up in 2006 for failed Proposition 87, which would have taxed oil companies to fund alternative energy research. Also gave $5 million for Brad Pitt's scheme to rebuild New Orleans in eco-friendly fashion. Wealth stems from $600 million inherited from grandfather, New York real estate baron Leo S. Bing.