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Sam Zell
8

Sam Zell

Age: 72

Occupation: Chairman, Equity Group Investments

Zell rises on the list this year partly because others have fallen. But that’s how the legendary Grave Dancer plays the game. The controversial billionaire kept building his empire in 2013 by engineering a complex $16 billion real-estate deal that was stunning in size, backing a cross-border bridge to give Californians access to the much-cheaper Tijuana airport, and launching an enterprise that helps credit-damaged homeowners buy houses again.

Photo: Charles Osgood/Chicago Tribune
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