Carl Icahn Net Worth: 5 Facts You Need to Know

Carl-IcahnFive Facts about Carl Icahn’s Net Worth

Carl Icahn has a net worth of $17.0 billion.

The famous corporate raider made his mark through the decades by wheeling and dealing his way to success. He’s known as one of the toughest characters on Wall Street and his net worth certainly proves that the activist investor knows how to make a fortune.

Here are some amazing facts about Carl Icahn’s road to billionaire status.

1. Icahn Played Poker to Pay for College

Since he was from a low-income neighborhood in Queens, New York, Carl Icahn didn’t have the kind of money needed to attend Princeton. He was brilliant enough to get in, but the financial burden was too much. To make things a little easier, Icahn got a job at a country club. Eventually, he started playing poker with the owners.


After reading a few books on the game, Icahn started winning $2,000 every summer. That’s like $50,000 in today’s money. The profits from his poker games helped Icahn fund his entire education. (Source: “This Trait Helped Carl Icahn Become A Billionaire,” Business Insider, January 7, 2015.)

2. Wall Street Wasn’t His First Choice

After finishing at Princeton, Icahn enrolled at the New York School of Medicine. He soon dropped out and joined the Army, but that clearly wasn’t his cup of tea either. Icahn left the military and finally found his calling. He became a Wall Street stockbroker at the tender age of 25.

3. He Made His First $1.0 Million in Arbitrage Trading

Icahn bought a seat at the New York Stock Exchange and began finding price discrepancies in exploit. It was a fairly low-risk game in which the broker had to find differences in the list prices of assets. All they had to do was make a trade that would bring it into balance. Icahn was making $1.5 million–$2.0 million a year in arbitrage trading.

He Became THE Carl Icahn by Founding His Own Company

In 1968, Icahn formed his own company, the now famous Icahn Enterprises. His strategy was to take controlling stakes in undervalued companies and force their board of directors to make changes wherever needed. His list of past targets includes RJR Nabisco, Texaco, TWA, Phillips Petroleum, Western Union, Viacom, Uniroyal, Marvel Comics, Revlon, Blockbuster, Time Warner, and Motorola.

Icahn’s fame grew as he racked up an impressive win record.

That Time He Made $3.0 Billion on Netflix Stock

Icahn took a 10% stake in Netflix back in 2012. The 5.5 million shares cost him about $321 million at the time but believe me, it turned out to be a legendary trade. He sold a little more than half those shares in 2013. The sale brought in $850 million. Two years later, in June 2015, Icahn dropped the rest of his stake in Netflix, bringing in another $2.0 billion. (Source: “Here’s How Carl Icahn Made $2 Billion On Netflix,” Forbes, June 24, 2015.)

Carl Icahn’s Net Worth by Year

Date Net Worth
March 2012 $14.0 billion
March 2013 $20.0 billion
March 2014 $24.5 billion
March 2015 $23.5 billion
March 2016 $17.0 billion

Data source: Forbes, last accessed March 3, 2015