Israel's 30 Richest in 2018

And how Roman Abramovich conquered the top spot with no time left on the clock

The richest in town: Stef Wertheimer, left, Shari Arison, Dana Azrieli, Roman Abramovich, Eyal Ofer, and Patrick Drahi.
Eyal Toueg, AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, Ziv Koren, Jason Alden/Bloomberg, Alon Ron, Rami Zarnegar

As Haaretz's daily business newspaper TheMarker was totting up its list of the local superrich, things suddenly changed: Days after his visa to Britain hit a bump, raising doubts about him being able to return to his London home, Russian-Jewish oligarch Roman Abramovich made a speedy aliyah - and instantly became the wealthiest Israeli. 

Abramovich, 51, who is best-known for owning English soccer club Chelsea, is estimated to be worth $12 billion, according to Forbes. He is joining the Israeli billionaires' exclusive club, which now boasts 106 members - each worth on average $1.07 billion.

Israel's Rich List 2018

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אייל עופר

Eyal Ofer

1
Q $9.3 billion

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Eyal Ofer

1
Q $9.3 billion

The brothers Eyal and Idan Ofer split equally the $12 billion fortune left by their father, Sammy, when he died in 2011. Eyal, the older son, used his money to continue investing in overseas real estate, mainly in Britain and the United States, and also controls the cruise line Royal Caribbean. In Israel, his main holdings are the shopping mall company Melisron, and a controlling share in Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, together worth about 3 billion shekels.

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סטף ורטהיימר

The Wertheimer family

2
Q $9 billion

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The Wertheimer family

2
Q $9 billion

Familey Members: Stef, Eitan, Ruti, Irit and Yiftah

Stef Wertheimer founded Iscar, the maker of cutting tools used in the machine-tools and aerospace industries. In 2006, he sold 80 percent of the firm to Warren Buffett, and the remaining shares in 2013. Since then, the family has invested the proceeds mainly in financial investments and in philanthropy activities, mainly in Israel’s outlying areas. Last year Stef’s daughter Ruti sold her 30 percent stake in Servotronix Motion Control, a maker of automation equipment, for $50 million.

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פטריק דרהי

Patrick Drahi

3
Q $6.5 billion

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Patrick Drahi

3
Q $6.5 billion

A pioneer in European cable television, Drahi built his holding company Altice through a series of frenzied leveraged acquisitions. That has created an empire that spans France, the United States, Belgium, Portugal and Switzerland, among others, but more recently it has left him struggling with debt of $60 billion. Subscribers are leaving and Altice’s share price has plummeted, causing Drahi to take over the job of CEO. In Israel, he controls Hot Telecom and i24 News.

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שרי אריסון

Shari Arison

4
Q $5.5 billion

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Shari Arison

4
Q $5.5 billion

Shari Arison remains Israel’s richest woman, with holdings in Bank Hapoalim, Housing & Construction Limited and Salt of the Earth. Her two biggest holdings are both entangled in legal problems. Hapoalim is being investigated by U.S. authorities on suspicion of aiding American clients in evading taxes, forcing it to set aside 500 million shekels to date for expected penalties and legal costs. Housing & Construction is being probed by Israeli police for allegedly paying bribes to African officials to win construction contracts.

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דנה עזריאלי

The Azrieli family

5
Q $4.4 billion

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The Azrieli family

5
Q $4.4 billion

Familey Members: Dana, Sharon, Naomi and Rafi

The family of David Azrieli, who died in July 2014, has perpetuated his legacy as a shopping mall developer and owner. During the past year, the family has contended with an industry crisis, created by online competition and by Israelis shopping abroad when they travel, which has caused the value of its mall portfolio to shrink by 25 million shekels in 2017, after many years of sharp increases. Despite that, Dana, who acts as chairwoman of the publicly traded Azrieli Group, collected a salary of 4.5 million shekels last year.

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גיל שויד

Gil Shwed

6
Q $4.2 billion

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Gil Shwed

6
Q $4.2 billion

The first-time winner of the Israel Prize for Technology, Shwed has run Check Point Software Technologies since its founding 25 years ago. The computer-security company’s market capitalization on Wall Street recently passed the $4 billion mark. Shwed no longer collects a salary but does get stock options, and was recently awarded $35 million worth of them. Last year, Shwed boosted his stake in the company by almost two percentage points to 18.9 percent.

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יצחק תשובה

Yitzhak and Chaya Tshuva

7
Q $4.15 billion

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Yitzhak and Chaya Tshuva

7
Q $4.15 billion

The fall of many of Israel’s tycoons left Yitzhak Tshuva unscathed. During the past year he has collected fat dividends from his Delek Group, thanks to its holdings in Israel’s natural gas fields, and he signed an agreement to sell the two Leonardo hotels owned by his closely held Elad Hotels to the Fattal Group for 250 million shekels. Delek faces a government-imposed deadline to divest its holding in the Tamar gas field by 2021, a process already underway, but Delek will continue to have a stake in the much bigger Leviathan field.

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חיים סבן

Haim Saban

8
Q $3.55 billion

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Haim Saban

8
Q $3.55 billion

Born in Egypt before immigrating to Israel as a child, Saban bet in the 1980s on the children’s show “Power Rangers” and won big. Today, he is regarded as one of the world’s most influential Jews. However, he was one of Hilary Clinton’s most enthusiastic supporters in the 2016 elections, which has made him less than popular with the Trump administration. In Israel, Saban controls cellular provider Partner Communications, whose share price has dropped 15 percent in the last year, making for losses estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

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ארנון מילצ'ן

Arnon Milchan

9
Q $3.5 billion

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Arnon Milchan

9
Q $3.5 billion

Once most famous for producing the Hollywood hit “Pretty Woman,” Milchan more recently has been associated with Case 1000, the champagne-and-cigars affair that police recommended in February should result in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment. Milchan got started in a chemicals and fertilizers business he inherited. In the 1970s he entered the local cinema business with films like “Dizengoff 99,” before moving to Hollywood and eventually forming the production company New Regency, which partners with Twenty-First Century Fox. In Israel, he has a 15 percent stake in TV Channel 10.

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שאול שני

Shaul Shani

10
Q $3.5 billion

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Shaul Shani

10
Q $3.5 billion

Born in 1955, by the 1980s, Shani had taken his first high-tech company, Oshap Technologies, public on the Nasdaq Stock Market. In the late 1990s, he formed the Brazilian telecom company Global Village Telecom but sold most of his holdings a decade later. About a decade ago, he bought one of Israel’s veteran tech companies, ECI Telecom, for $1.25 billion, with a partner (who he later bought out). In the last year, ECI found itself in a battle with employees protesting layoffs, which ended with an agreement for just a few-score firings.

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מיקי פדרמן

The Federmann family

11
Q $3.5 billion

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The Federmann family

11
Q $3.5 billion

Familey Members: Michael (Mikey), Leora, Irit, Ruth, Daniel, David, Gidi, Ami and Ruth Federmann

The Federmann family owns the Dan Hotel chain and in 2004 took over the security technology firm Elbit Systems. Last year Elbit won the bidding to acquire the state-owned Israel Military Industries, thus further strengthening the Federmanns’ standing as one of the leading families in Israel’s military industrial sector.

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טדי שגיא

Teddy Sagi

12
Q $3.4 billion

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Teddy Sagi

12
Q $3.4 billion

An investment advisor who served a prison term in Israel the 1990s in the wake of his part in the securities-trading affair, Sagi garnered attention when he offered shares in a number of his companies on the London stock market, among them the gambling software company Playtech. Last year he sold most of his holdings in Playtech and other traded companies, and currently the bulk of his holdings are in real estate outside of Israel, most notably the Camden Market in London.

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יקיר גבאי

Yakir Gabbay

13
Q $3.1 billion

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Yakir Gabbay

13
Q $3.1 billion

Yakir Gabbay launched his professional career in the ISC’s prospectus department. He then worked elsewhere in the capital market, managing the Leumi Partners Underwriters LTD. and representing the Trump family in Israel. At the beginning of the previous decade Gabbay saw an opportunity in Germany’s real estate market and started buying dozens of properties in central cities, at times entire buildings. Today the worth of his company, Aroundtown, is estimated at 6.5 billion euros.

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מריוס נכט

Marius Nacht and Anat Agmon

14
Q $2.65 billion

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Marius Nacht and Anat Agmon

14
Q $2.65 billion

In 1995 Marius Nacht was one of the three founders of Check Point Software Technologies, along with Gil Shwed and Shlomo Kramer. Currently, after having sold most of his holdings in the company, he owns about 4 percent of its shares. Nacht shares his wealth with his former wife, Anat Agmon, an attorney who is currently an owner of the Israeli financial daily Globes. As an investor, he focuses on the biomedical sector, and recently set up a personal investment fund of $100 million that is active in the life sciences field.

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עידן עופר

Idan Ofer

$rate
Q $2.25 billion

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Idan Ofer

$rate
Q $2.25 billion

After his father’s death in 2011, Sammy Ofer’s younger son inherited wealth and holdings worth $6 billion. He currently lives in London with his family. At the beginning of 2018 he increased his stake in the Atlético Madrid and now owns 33 percent of the soccer team, worth $109 million. Most of his holdings in Israel are through the Israel Corporation and are worth about $800 million.

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אודי אנג'ל

Udi Angel

16
Q $2.2 billion

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Udi Angel

16
Q $2.2 billion

Ehud (Udi) Angel was married to Leora Ofer (cousin of Idan), until they divorced in 1995. He has headed some of the largest firms in the Israeli economy and now heads the Ofer shipping holdings in the XT Group. A few years ago he transferred to his daughter Rona control of the Channel 2 Reshet franchise, of which he held 51 percent together with the Ofer family.

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מורי ארקין

Mori Arkin

17
Q $2 billion

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Mori Arkin

17
Q $2 billion

Arkin’s family founded the Agis pharmaceuticals company, which was sold in 2004 to Perrigo for $831 million. Today he invests in biomed, mainly through the Safra fund and direct insurance holdings.

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שמואל חרל"פ

The Harlap family

18
Q $2 billion

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The Harlap family

18
Q $2 billion

Familey Members: Shmuel, Yoav and Tamara Harlap

The Harlap family owns Colmobil, the importer of Mercedes, Mitsubishi and Hyundai, which account for about 20 percent of all automobile imports to Israel. Shmuel Harlap, the company’s CEO, was among the initial investors in Mobileye and when that company was sold to Intel in 2017, he made about $1 billion.

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מיקי שטראוס

The Strauss family

19
Q $2 billion

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The Strauss family

19
Q $2 billion

Familey Members: Michael Strauss, Raya Strauss-Ben Dror, Ofra Strauss, Irit Strauss, Adi Strauss, Nava Michael, Gili Madin and Rani Madin

Strauss is the second-largest food company in Israel, with a 12 percent share of the market and about 15,000 employees. The group includes Strauss Israel, Strauss Coffee, international activity in dips and spreads (mainly Sabra in the United States) and the Tami 4 water company. Strauss shares rose by 20 percent this year and the company’s net profit in 2017 came to NIS 415 million.

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מירילשווילי ובנו

The Mirilashvili family

20
Q $1.8 billion

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The Mirilashvili family

20
Q $1.8 billion

Familey Members: Mikhael Mirilashvili and Yitzhak Mirilashvili

Mikhael Mirilashvili and his son Yitzhak Mirilashvili are the owners of TV Channel 20, which was established in 2012, and which since then has been considered a money-loser. Last year the two were investigated because of donations of millions of shekels to the Shas party and to a non-profit organization headed by the wife of Interior Minister Arye Dery. The elder Mirilashvili owns real estate in Russia, mostly in the St. Petersburg area. In Israel he runs businesses through the Be’er Isaac Energy company, which in the past held 5 percent of the failed offshore natural gas fields Mira and Sarah. Yitzhak Mirilashvili owns the Hoshen diamond firm, which deals in gemstones on the Diamond Exchange, and is also a prominent partner in Water-Gen, a start-up company for generating drinking water from humidity in the air.

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אדם נוימן

Adam Neumann

21
Q $1.7 billion

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Adam Neumann

21
Q $1.7 billion

Adam Neumann began operations of WeWork for rented work spaces in 2010 in a shared workspace he set up in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan. Since then, dozens of such sites have been established around the word. This year the company raised $4.4 billion from the Japanese SoftBank group, and its value reached about $20 billion. However, a bond WeWork issued this year plummeted into the junk category, which has cast a shadow on what were rosy forecasts for the company’s future.

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דרורית ורטהיים, דודי ורטהיים

The Wertheim family

22
Q $1.7 billion

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The Wertheim family

22
Q $1.7 billion

Familey Members: Hassia, David and Drorit Wertheim

Muzi Wertheim, who died in 2016, bequeathed to his children David and Drorit an estate assessed at 8 to 10 billion shekels. These assets included the Central Bottling Company — the Coca-Cola franchisee in Israel, the controlling shares (21.8%) of Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, control of the Channel 2 Keshet franchise and about 19 percent of the shares in Alony-Hetz, one of the largest real estate companies in Israel. David Wertheim inherited 63 percent of the wealth and Drorit Wertheim the remainder. At the start of 2018, Drorit sold her Alony-Hetz shares to her brother. Under Israeli law on the concentration of wealth, by 2019 the family will have to decide on divesting its holdings either in Alony-Hetz or in Mizrahi-Tefahot.

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סמי סגול

The Sagol family

23
Q $1.65 billion

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The Sagol family

23
Q $1.65 billion

Familey Members: Sami, Itzhak and Yossi Sagol

Keter Plastic started out as a small shop established in 1948 in the flea market by Yosef Sagol, and turned into a huge company with about 30 factories around the world. In 2016 the family sold 80 percent of Keter Plastic to the private equity firm BC Partners for $1.36 billion.

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שמואל מיתר

The Meitar family

24
Q $1.6 billion

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The Meitar family

24
Q $1.6 billion

Familey Members: Shmuel Meitar, Ofra and Aviad Meitar, Dafna Nechmad

The late Zvi Meitar was one of the founders of Amdocs and the law firm of Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal. With Morris Kahn, he was a founder of the Aurec Group, which was sold in 2008 for about $2 billion. The Meitar family owns real estate in Israel and the United States and a few investments in gold. Zvi Meitar’s brother, businessman Shmuel Meitar, was also a partner in the establishment of Aurec, all of whose assets have been liquid since its sale. Shmuel Meitar has invested about $50 million of his money in the digital start-up Time to Know, which develops interactive learning systems.

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משמאל ג'ו נקש

The Nakash brothers

25
Q $1.57 billion

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The Nakash brothers

25
Q $1.57 billion

Familey Members: Joe, Ralph and Avi Nakash

The brothers Joe, Ralph and Avi Nakash are the founders of the American Jordache jeans company, which started out as a Brooklyn clothing store in the late 1960s. Since then the family businesses have expanded into real estate and hotels. Since the 1990s the brothers have had various businesses in Israel, among them the Orchid chain of hotels and control (70 percent) of Arkia Airlines. In 2015 they tried to acquire the Jerusalem Economy Corporation from Bank Leumi but the deal fell through on the grounds that Leumi tried to conceal the bad state of the company.

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אנג'לה שמעון

The Shamoon family

26
Q $1.5 billion

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The Shamoon family

26
Q $1.5 billion

Familey Members: Angela and Alexandra Shimoon and other heirs

Businessman Sami Shamoon, who held the controlling shares in the Yakhin-Hakal group, died in 2009 and left an estate estimated to be worth about $100 million at the time. Since his death, his family and many of his associates have been waging legal battles for pieces of the estate. A complex and costly legal wrangle also developed with the estate’s executor, which ended when he was replaced.

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צדיק בינו

The Bino family

27
Q $1.5 billion

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The Bino family

27
Q $1.5 billion

Familey Members: Zadik Bino, Gil Bino, Dafna Bino-Or, Hadar Bino-Shmueli

Zadik Bino, who immigrated to Israel as a child with his family from Iraq, advanced in the banking industry. At the start of the 1980s, he became CEO of the First International Bank of Israel and subsequently served as CEO of Bank Leumi. From the end of the 1990s, he was the controlling shareholder in Paz Oil, but he sold control of the company in 2016-2017. He now owns 19 percent of the shares in First International bank through FIBI Holdings.

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מוריס קהאן

The Kahn family

28
Q $1.45 billion

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The Kahn family

28
Q $1.45 billion

Familey Members: Morris, David and Benjamin Kahn

Morris Kahn came to Israel as a new immigrant from South Africa at the end of the 1950s and began his business career in failed agricultural enterprises. At the end of the 1960s he won the bidding for the contract to produce Dapei Zahav, the Israeli equivalent of the Yellow Pages. The company he established for that purpose became the basis of the Amdocs billing company. This year he was slated to donate $1 million to the Genesis Prize, which would have doubled the size of that prize to $2 million but in the wake of Natalie Portman’s refusal to accept the prize in person, he changed his mind.

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זיו אבירם משמאל

Ziv Aviram

29
Q $1.42 billion

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Ziv Aviram

29
Q $1.42 billion

Ziv Aviram is one of the founders of Mobileye, along with Amnon Shashua. In 2017 the company was sold to Intel for $15.3 billion, putting about $1 billion into the pockets of each of them. Now the tax authorities in the United States are investigating both for passing along insider information: The indictment states that they gave out insider information about the Mobileye-Intel deal and could have assumed it would be put to use. Aviram and Shashua also established OrCam, which has developed a device to aid the visually impaired and is estimated to be worth $1 billion.

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אמנון שעשוע

Amnon Shashua

30
Q $1.41 billion

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Amnon Shashua

30
Q $1.41 billion

Prof. Amnon Shashua developed the technology at the basis of Mobileye at the Hebrew University, where he worked as a senior faculty member. A few days before Mobileye was floated, he had three of the heads of the university sign a document to the effect that anything developed by a university employee and Mobileye – belongs to Mobileye. Shashua claimed that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission required the document. At the university they suspected that this assertion wasn’t true and that the real reason for his demand was the deal, which earned him about $1 billion. As a result, Shashua found himself entangled in a legal battle with the university, from which he resigned, before the sides reached an agreement and Shashua returned to teaching.

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The last year was an OK one for Israel’s richest. Their wealth increased by 7% in the last 12 months, less than the global average. In dollar terms, the wealth of the top 500 richest Israelis increased to $172 billion. (It would have been more if the French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi hadn’t suffered such a financial setback.) Not too bad for such a small population.

While their income didn’t increase by double digits, memories of the social protests of 2011 have long faded away. Straight after those dramatic demonstrations, ostentation went out of style. But now it’s back, and so are cars costing over a million shekels on the streets of Tel Aviv.

The view of Tel Aviv from the Norman Hotel.
Sivan Askayo
Herzliya Pituach, one of Israel's wealthiest cities, as seen from the air.
Ofer Vaknin
The main street of the Neve Tzedek neighborhood in Tel Aviv, where Russian businessman Roman Abramovich has purchased several houses.
Moti Milrod

And even though housing prices in Israel have steadied, the Tel Aviv luxury market is still boiling hot. Another positive development at the top: the number of female billionaires in the country rose 18% in 2017 (12% of the total) versus 14.5% rise for males.

Inequality is a hot topic everywhere, but Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon hasn’t mentioned ideas of raising taxes on the rich or, heaven forbid, taxing estates. If anything, Israel’s rich are pressing for Trump-style tax cuts. Technically, what they want is tax cuts for companies - based on the argument that, otherwise, companies will decamp from Israel to the United States, or to countries with more convenient tax regimes.

French luxury brand Louis Vuitton's flagship store inside the Ramat Aviv mall, Tel Aviv.
Moti Milrod
An aerial view of yachts docking at Herzliya's marina, central Israel.
Tal Cohen

Mobility among the superrich is generational: Dividing the wealth among heirs, as well as things like wars and revolutions (sometimes among the heirs themselves), has been the mechanism preventing the superrich from accruing every last penny in the land. 

Another reason is that the generation of heirs tends to be less driven to excel in business than the person who actually made the fortune. However, dividing the wealth of Israel’s 500 richest among, say, 1,500 heirs does not change the frightening picture of Israel’s economic gaps.

Despite a slight decline in recent years in the Gini indices that measure income inequality, Israel still suffers from huge inequality in assets; miserable mobility for minorities and people living in the outlying, poorer areas; and concentration in business. Israel has dozens of monopolies, official and not.

Given that Israel is likely to be encouraged to tolerate ties between business and government thanks to the Trump administration, Israel’s 1% is likely to continue growing more distant from everybody else. And to flaunt it. Well, at least until the next protest.

Sources: TheMarker's list of the richest people in Israel features Israelis with the highest net asset worth, as far as is known. That worth is calculated based on the total sum of assets owned by a person, family or group – to the best available knowledge and assessment of the editorial staff.

Assets examined include shareholdings in companies (public and private) and various businesses, stocks, real estate and cash.

The net asset worth is based up to April 1, 2018 and is calculated on a currency rate of 3.5 shekels to the dollar.

To compile the list, TheMarker used the following information sources: Publicly available data, TheMarker website, archives, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange website, Bloomberg, CofaceBDI website, the Registrar of Companies, public relations firms, and interviews with sources and close associates of those ranked. When TheMarker lacked credible information regarding wealth assessment, it did not include that person on the list.