David Rubenstein Net Worth and Details of How He Became a Billionaire

It is not every day that the son of a mailman and a stay-at-home mom successfully transitions into a billionaire but one fellow that has pulled off this feat is David Rubenstein. Thanks to a decades-long flourishing career in alternative assets management and private equity, Rubenstein has been able to accumulate a net worth of $4 billion. This now places him amongst the upper one-percenters of the American public. He has not forgotten his roots though and is determined to pay back his good fortune.

To this end, David Rubenstein has donated generously to education and health initiatives. He has also spearheaded the so-called patriotic philanthropy, restoring several national monuments across America. All these have fetched him several accolades and he has notched top positions at distinguished institutions such as the Smithsonian Institute, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and Council for Foreign Relations.

David Rubenstein Originally Trained as a Lawyer and Spent Several Years in Private and Public Practice

David Rubenstein may be a billionaire these days but his family background is firmly blue-collar. Born in 1941 in Baltimore, Maryland, David’s dad was a mailman for the UPS while his mom, a high school dropout, was a homemaker. The family obviously didn’t have much in terms of material possessions but what they lacked in riches, they made up for with their love for each other. This provided the young David with a conducive environment and he was able to finish his high school diploma in good time. He then attended Duke University and University of Chicago Law School and qualified as a lawyer in 1973.

Upon qualifying as a lawyer, David Rubenstein headed out to New York and joined the law offices of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison. He spent two years with them before his long-held desire to serve in public office drove him to take up the position of chief counsel to then-senator Birch Bayh on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. This gig lasted for only a year but Rubenstein did enough to get himself noticed by the Democratic Party hierarchy. He found himself on the Jimmy Carter Presidential campaign and when it turned out to be victorious, he was appointed the deputy assistant to the president on domestic policy.

He Co-Founded A Private Equity Firm in 1987

David Rubenstein served in the Carter administration until they were voted out in 1981. He found himself without a job for a while and went back into private practice. He however did not find it interesting and began seeking new adventures. In the course of doing this, Rubenstein read about the incredible leverage buyout of Gibson Greeting Cards which had been spearheaded by William Simon.

Simon had used $1 million cash and a $79 million loan to purchase the greeting card company in 1982. He went on to turn the company’s fortunes around and was able to sell it off for $220 million in 1984, thus making a huge profit in the process. The whole thing fascinated Rubenstein and he set about learning more about leveraged buy-outs. He subsequently decided to go into that area and sought a role as a legal consultant for a private equity firm. That role failed to materialize and he now joined hands with two other individuals; William E. Conway Jr. and Daniel A. D’Aniello, to form the private equity group, Carlyle Group, in 1987.

The Carlyle Group is The Second-Largest Private Equity Firm by Capital in the World

The Carlyle Group began operating in 1987 and Rubenstein and his co-CEOs raised about $5 million for their initial investments and operational expenses. They were able to get their company off the ground and soon enough were raising tens of millions of dollars for various investments. From these humble beginnings, The Carlyle Group has grown to become the world leader in alternative assets management and leveraged buyouts. They have $246 billion worth of assets under management and employ 1,800 employees in 31 offices across six continents.

Some of the notable success that the firm has enjoyed includes its purchase of China Pacific Insurance Company. China Pacific was on the verge of collapse in 2005 when Rubenstein and his Carlyle Group pumped in $800 million for a 17% stake over the next two years. They also set about overhauling the company’s management; introducing performance-based incentives; and changing their product mix. These measures rejuvenated the company and by the time it was sold off in 2011, the 17% stake of the Carlyle Group was now valued at over $4.8 billion.

Other notable deals by the private equity company include DuPont Auto (bought for $1.35 billion and sold for $5.8 billion making for a profit of $4.5 billion) and Beats Electronics (invested $514 million and reaped $1.05 billion). It is deals like these that now account for David Rubenstein’s net worth. As a partner, he gets a portion of the profits made on investing in other people’s money. He also has his own investments as well.

David Rubenstein Has Several Books and TV Shows to His Credit

Rubenstein has increasingly become a public figure over the years and the reason for this is his forays into the media industry. His journey in that direction started around 2010 when he was made the president of the Economic Club in Washington. The club regularly organized for business people to give speeches and Rubenstein discovered that most of these business folks were not gifted speakers. He then decided to spice things up by interviewing them instead and the new format became a hit. It made the club more popular and down the line, a Bloomberg executive spotted one of Rubenstein’s interviews. They got in touch with him and voila, a TV show was born.

The David Rubenstein Show: Peer to Peer Conversation is now carried by Bloomberg TV and PBS. It is also streamed online and Rubenstein has interviewed distinguished guests over the years, including the likes of Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah. Such success has seen David Rubenstein land another show with PBS. Titled History with David Rubenstein, the show debuted in July 2020 and offers insights into The American Story.

Away from television, David Rubenstein has also penned at least two books. They are The American Story: Interview with Master Historians (2019) and How to Lead (2020). The former features interviews with erudite historians while the latter focuses on interviews with leaders in various fields of endeavors.

The Lawyer-Turned-Business Magnate Has Committed Millions of Dollars to Education and Patriotic Philanthropy

In case you wondering what David Rubenstein spends his $4 billion net worth on, then the answer is philanthropy. The businessman believes that it was good fortune that enabled his rise above a blue-collar background and he is determined to help others too. One of the ways in which he is doing this is by helping educational institutions. Rubenstein has donated tens of millions of dollars to the likes of Harvard University, John Hopkins University, University of Chicago, and Duke University.

These monies have been used to upgrade facilities. They have also been deployed to provide fellowships, internships, as well as scholarships for students of varied backgrounds. In the area of health, Rubenstein has gifted millions of dollars to establish a pancreatic cancer research center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He has also supported a center that is dedicated to restoring functional hearing loss at the John Hopkins School of Medicine.

Away from health and education, David Rubenstein has also spearheaded a niche of philanthropy known as patriotic philanthropy. The leveraged buyout legend fervently believes that it is important for Americans to know about the history of their country and he is doing his bit to preserve historical monuments in the country. He has given tens of millions of dollars to renovate the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. He has also financed the renovation of homes of former American presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

In furtherance of his patriotic philanthropy, David Rubenstein has also purchased iconic texts such as the Magna Carta ($21.3 million), Declaration of Independence ($632,000), The Constitution, The Emancipation Proclamation ($2 million), The Bill of Rights, The 13th Amendment and the Bay Psalm Book ($14.2 million). Rubenstein doesn’t keep these texts to himself but has donated them to several government institutions so that members of the public can access them. This he does in the hope that more people will learn about American history, become informed citizens, and contribute to improving the country’s democracy.

Key Facts 

  • David Rubenstein ranks amongst the 1000 richest persons in the world with a net worth of $4 billion.
  • The son of a UPS mailman and a homemaker mother, he initially practiced as a lawyer for several years.
  • He later gained interest in leveraged buyouts and set up a private equity firm, The Carlyle Group, in 1987 with two partners.
  • The Carlyle Group is now a world leader in leveraged buyouts with over $246 billion worth of assets under management.
  • Rubenstein has held top positions at distinguished institutions such as the Smithsonian Institute and The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.
  • He has also hosted some TV shows and penned several books.
  • The leveraged buyout legend has used his fortune to support education and health initiatives.
  • He also believes in promoting American history and has funneled millions to his patriotic philanthropy.
Ngozika Agu
Ngozika Agu
Ngozika can turn any personal finance or entertainment information into an exciting, delightful and compelling article that informs and educates, she can quickly turn random letters into epic stories that not only entertain but also inspires or motivates


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