Ronald Wayne Burkle
(born November 12
in Pomona, California
) is an American business magnate
. Know as a "Billionaire Party Boy", his present net worth is estimated at $3.5 billion.
Burkle got his start in the supermarket business as a bag boy at his father's grocery store. He later dropped out of college, and founded Yucaipa Companies, a private equity firm, which invests in retail, manufacturing, and distribution.
Burkle has served as Chairman of the Board and controlling shareholder of numerous companies, including Alliance Entertainment, Golden State Foods, Dominick's, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, and Food4Less. He is currently a member of the board of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, KB Home, and Yahoo! He is also part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins National Hockey League team, although his exact share is unknown.
Burkle is a well-known Democratic supporter and fundraiser who has raised more than $1,000,000 for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Bill Clinton is employed by The Yucaipa Companies to help identify possible investment opportunities. He has supported California State Treasurer Phil Angelides and employed former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, both of whom are former CALPERS board members, but has also made contributions to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Robert Novak reported in June 2007 that 98 percent of Burkle's $1.5 million political contributions to date have gone to Democrats. Burkle helped finance Al Gore's cable Current TV network.
Burkle became a co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins
when he invested $20 million to help a group headed by Mario Lemieux
save the team from bankruptcy
Wild Oats Markets
was an operator of natural foods stores and farmers markets in North America. Burkle started buying Wild Oats stock in February 2005. By the time Whole Foods Market
, a natural-foods grocer, agreed to pay $565 million for Wild Oats, Burkle was Wild Oats's largest shareholder.
Golden State Foods
Burkle sold his majority stake in supplier Golden State Foods to St. Louis-based Wetterau Associates for about $110 million. Golden State, one of McDonald's
biggest suppliers, operates 11 distribution centers in the United States and abroad and two U.S. processing plants.
Follieri and the Vati-Con Scandal
On 30 April 2008
, a Delaware
judge dismissed Burkle's lawsuit against Raffaello Follieri
, ex-boyfriend of actress Anne Hathaway
, after he agreed to repay Burkle more than $1.3 million Burkle loaned him, a small amount of the money Burkle lost in the Vati-Con Scandal
Investments & transactions
Burkle's investments and transactions include:
In April 2006, Burkle accused New York Post
columnist Jared Paul Stern
of attempting to extort money from him in exchange for stopping the publication of stories in Page Six, the paper's gossip column, about his private life. Burkle secretly videotaped two private meetings between himself and Stern, with the second meeting orchestrated and monitored by the FBI
. Stern allegedly asked Burkle for a $220,000 investment in his clothing business in exchange for better coverage. Stern was subsequently fired by the Post
- The Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA
- Ron Burkle's federal campaign contributions at newsmeat.com
- Forbes - The 400 Richest Americans 2005
- The Complete Ron Burkle Jason Horowitz, The New York Observer April 12, 2007
- Gore reinvents television with the debut of Current Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times, August 2, 2005
- Yellow Peril Ron Burkle, Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2006, about the Payola Six Scandal
- Billionaire and Post Writer in Dance of Tips and Turns New York Times, April 12, 2006
- Ex-Post Keyholer Says He’s Cleared on Extortion Rap Choire Sicha, The New York Observer, January 29, 2007
- Burkle's Source Agrees to Buy Primedia Magazine Group (Update4) Leon Lazaroff, Bloomberg.com, May 14, 2007
- Dow Jones Union Asks Tycoons to explore Alternatives to News Corp Bid Forbes, 1 October 2007
- Clintons Earned $109 Million in 8 Years Washington Post, 5 April 2008
- Aloha Bankruptcy Scheme Approved BBC News, 30 November 2005; accessed 31 March 2008