(Forbes 400, Richest Americans ranking updated for Facebook Founder Zuckerberg charity plants)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The richest Americans are getting richer, according to the latest release of the Forbes ranking of the 400 richest Americans.

At a combined wealth of $1.37 trillion, the 400 richest Americans saw their wealth increase by 8% over last year. The wealth level needed to make the Forbes 400 also pushed back above $1 billion; it had fallen below $1 billion in 2009 for first time since 2006.

Not that the richest Americans don't still have some work left to do in becoming even filthier rich: The 8% increase in 2010 still left the group below the total in 2008 ($1.57 trillion) and 2007 ($1.54 trillion).

No surprise at the top of the list, Bill Gates of Microsoft ( MSFT) in the No. 1 spot with a net worth of $54 billion, and Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK.B) at No. 2 among America's richest, with wealth estimated at $45 billion.

Gates and Buffett have been on a big charitable giving drive this year to convince billionaires to commit a majority of their fortunes to charity.


Among the Top 10 Richest Americans in the Forbes 400, only Larry Ellison of Oracle ( ORCL) and Michael Bloomberg have made the Buffett/Gates charitable pledge. Ellison is No. 3 on the Forbes 400, with an estimated wealth of $27 billion. Bloomberg rounded out the Forbes 400 Top 10 with an estimated wealth of $18 billion.

There are two notable families represented in the Forbes 400 Top Ten that aren't part of the Buffett/Gates group, though they are big charitable donors. The Walton heirs of Wal-Mart ( WMT) fame claimed four of the Top 10 spots on the Forbes 400, with a combined wealth of $84 billion. The Koch brothers, Charles and David, of privately held Koch Industries, have a combined wealth of $43 billion and tied for fifth on the Forbes 400.

The most notable of the moves up among the richest was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose wealth increased by 245%, the largest of any of the 400 Richest Americans. Zuckerberg was 35th on the list with a wealth estimated at $6.9 billion, with the social media mogul finishing ahead of old media mogul Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. ( NWSA), who was at No. 38 with an estimated wealth of $6.2 billion.

Zuckerberg will reportedly be donating some of his massive and suddenly acquired fortune to charity. There were various press reports on Thursday that the Facebook founder would be making a $100 million donation to the Newark, New Jersey public school system -- which is under serious financial strain -- and that the donation would be the beginning of a major charitable campaign by Zuckerberg focused on education. A donation from Zuckerberg of $100 million would represent a little more than 10% of Newark's budget.


Zuckerberg wasn't the only Facebook luminary in the Forbes 400. Dustin Moskovitz, who is no longer with the social media site but retains a Facebook stake worth $1.4 billion, and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, with an estimated wealth of $1.15 billion, were No. 290 and No. 356 on the Forbes 400, respectively. Moskovitz, at 26, was the youngest member of the Forbes 400.

Wal-Mart heirs Christy and Alice Walton were the only woman to break the Top 10 in the Forbes 400. The next richest woman on the list was Anne Cox Chambers of Cox Enterprises, at No. 19 with an estimated wealth of $12.5 billion. The only other woman in the Top 50 of the Forbes 400 was Abigail Johnson of Fidelity Investments, at No. 22 with a fortune of $11.3 billion.

Some notable disappearances from the ranks of the Forbes 400 were hedge fund manger Raj Rajaratnam of Galleon Group, now facing 185 years in prison, and the rags-to-riches cab driver turned real estate mogul Tamir Sapir, now facing multiple creditor lawsuits.

--Written by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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