The Billionaire Boys Club is Down

Maybe news of what the big time billionaires are losing will ease some financial pain, maybe not. It seems in this market everyone is affected and the bigger the fortune, the harder the fall. It may be a very new year but five very rich men are still feeling economic mishaps from 2008. Rather then big winners in ’08, these five were the biggest losers according to Forbes. Go ahead and drool over these big money amounts ya’ll.

Last year, Forbes named casino mogul Sheldon Adelson third on their list of the 400 richest Americans. The new money billionaire thus bequeathed himself "Sheldon Adelson the 3rd," a nod to his spot as America’s third-richest man. The no-nonsense son of a Boston taxi driver, had, after all amassed a $28 billion fortune by 2007.

A month later, shares of Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands (nyse: LVS) casino company had increased to an all-time high of $144 a share, plopping another $10 billion onto his fortune. Between September 2006 and September 2007, he made $20.5 million per day but what goes up must come down. Right? As the economy faded so did Adelson’s LVS shares, by 95%. Roughly translating into a $24 billion personal fortune wipe, as cost-conscious Americans stayed away from the casinos. In September 2009 when the next Forbes 400 list gets published, Sheldon Adelson probably won’t even be on it. Good luck Mr. Adelson, we heard you had to put a personal $1 billion of your own, already dwindling fortune back into LVS just to keep the company alive.  You may not ever top the Forbes richest list but you just topped the Forbes biggest loser list of 2008, how sad for you. The 5 biggest losers of 2008 are American citizens holding publicly traded stocks from January 2, 2008 through December 5, 2008. The big billionaires lost a combined $167 billion in just 11 months, plus shares of the companies in which they have stakes fell an average of 59%, ouch!

Right after Adelson in the loss category is Warren Buffet, America’s second-richest man. Buffet held the title of world’s richest man in March but lost $16.5 billion when shares of Berkshire Hathaway (nyse: BRK) dropped 28%. The third biggest loser in 2008 was software man Bill Gates. His shares of Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT) dropped 45%. Translation, Gates lost $12.3 billion of personal wealth in just 11 months.

Completing the top five biggest losers list is investor Kirk Kerkorian and Google (nasdaq: GOOG) Co-founder Larry Page, they each lost $11.9 billion. Kerkorian lost billions in his casino, oil and auto ventures. His largest holding, MGM Mirage (nyse: MGM), was down 87% since January. He also recently revealed that he sold a large portion of his shares of Ford at a loss. Tragically Larry Page’s Google shares dropped 59% their value this year.

The billionaire boys are hurting because no matter how much money one has, a $24 billion loss in 11 months just hurts. Lessons learned, first off, don’t nickname yourself the third because Forbes puts you on a rich list. It is very nouveau riche and silly-sounding now. Second, no one but you is sheading tears over your loss because you’re all still worth a bill or two.Third, pray for a prosperous 2009.