Thursday, September 20, 2012
What does $126 billion look like? With the picture below, probably the wealthiest portrait ever taken, you now know.
This photograph, which graces the cover of the 30th anniversary issue of the Forbes 400, crowned an incredible event. On June 26, 2012, 161 billionaires and near-billionaires came together in New York at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, a chance for the most successful people on the planet to use their resources and the mind-set that built that success to try to solve the world’s most intractable problems.
Near the end of the day, we took a dozen of the greatest living philanthropists in the world, put them in one room, and took an unprecedented photograph. There was no digital wizardry, or Photoshop sleight of hand — as the accompanying video underscores, they were all in one place at one time, and even the most jaded among them couldn’t help but look around the Trustees Room at the New York Public Library and go, “wow.”
The whole shoot took just 15 minutes, though our photo crew, notably photographer Michael Prince, had been prepping for weeks, testing cameras, the room, the lights. The cover was shot dozens of times in advance using stand-ins to ensure perfect lighting and focus when the actual subjects arrived.
When they did, it was magic. Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates, Pete Peterson, Leon Black, Jon Bon Jovi, Marc Benioff, David Rubenstein, Steve Case, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and Marc Andreessen, $126 billion of personal net worth, incredible business achievement — and a desire to change the world on a massive scale. It was a moment of business and philanthropic history — and a photo for the ages.