B. Wayne Hughes, Billionaire Real Estate Investor, Dies at 87

(Bloomberg) — B. Wayne Hughes, who made his fortune founding pioneering companies in two separate corners of the real estate world, died at home on Wednesday at his horse farm in Kentucky, according to a statement

He was 87.

Hughes was the founder of Public Storage, the largest self-storage company in the world. He later founded American Homes 4 Rent, the third-largest single-family landlord, which owns roughly 55,000 rental houses. He personally amassed a $5.2 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, though his family fortune was vastly larger. His daughter Tamara Gustavson is the biggest individual shareholder of both companies and is worth $8.3 billion.

Hughes was born in Gotebo, Oklahoma. The son of a sharecropper, he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy before graduating from the University of Southern California, where he later became a major donor.

He founded Public Storage in 1972 and spent the subsequent decades building a sprawling portfolio of mini-warehouses that catered to Americans’ growing need for a place to keep their excess stuff.

Hughes retired from the role of CEO and turned his attention to breeding horses. He purchased Spendthrift Farm in Lexington in 2004 and went on to win six Breeders Cup races. In 2020, his colt Authentic won the Kentucky Derby.

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In 2011, as the foreclosure crisis rocked the U.S., Hughes founded American Homes 4 Rent, acquiring distressed properties and converting them into rentals.

In addition to Tamara, he’s survived by his wife Patricia, his son Wayne Jr. as well as four grandchildren, according to the statement. 

(Updates with family fortune in third paragraph.)

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