Aubrey McClendon was once a billionaire, but he eventually fell from grace and was forced to leave the company he founded. Once hailed as a pioneer of the oil industry, his status quickly fell when he leveraged Chesapeake Energy into major debt, leading the company to force him out. He later became CEO of another energy company, which is now reportedly in debt too. Despite these setbacks he wasn’t poor by any means. McClendon was a multimillionaire when he tragically died in a fiery, one-car wreck in Oklahoma.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. McClendon Had a Net Worth of $500 Million
Aubrey McClendon may have once been a billionaire, but according to Celebrity Net Worth he lost half of his fortune and was most recently worth $500 million. His net worth comes from many financial investments, including co-founding Chesapeake Energy and growing it into the second-largest natural gas producer.
In 1982, he started his very first natural gas investment company, Chesapeake Investments. He started Chesapeake Energy seven years later with Tom L. Ward and took the company public in 1993. The company employs around 12,000 people. In 2008, McClendon grew the company to its peak worth of $35 billion.
2. He Was Once Called a ‘Reckless Billionaire’ and Was One of the Highest-Paid CEOs in America
McClendon took the oil and gas industry by storm, helping usher in new technologies for fracking and drilling. He helped ignite the gas boom of the past decade, Forbes reported. In 2008, McClendon was once one of the highest-paid CEOs in America,with a package worth $112.5 million, including a $75 million bonus, Business Insider reported. He was even called a “Reckless Billionaire,” as his net worth and the risks he took grew and grew. Unfortunately, his risks caught up with him and after saddling Chesapeake with huge debt, he was forced to leave.
When he was forced out, McClendon started a competing company, AEP, just down the road. He was sued by Chesapeake for theft of secrets. His recent indictment alleges that he orchestrated a conspiracy in oil bidding between two oil and gas companies, only named Company A and Company B. Chesapeake itself has publicly announced that it doesn’t expect to face prosecution. The company said it was given immunity under an act that shields companies who first report anti-trust violations. It’s possible that Chesapeake itself turned in McClendon, following an acrimonious relationship that developed between the company and its founder. However, this isn’t known, only speculated.
3. He Owned a Mansion on ‘Billionaire’s Row’ in Bermuda, Plus Several Other Homes
In 2012, before he left Chesapeake, McClendon was living incredibly lavishly. Chesapeake leased planes that took his family to Amsterdam and Paris for $108,000, Reuters reported. Beyond that, McClendon bought two houses in Oklahoma City, one a $4 million, 9,000-square foot stone mansion. The other is right next door, worth $2.3 million. He bought a third for $700,000.
McClendon also purchased property on “billionaire’s row” in Bermuda. This neighborhood includes homes owned by Michael Bloomberg, Ross Perot, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. One of his homes in Bermuda cost $8.6 million and he spent an extra $12 million on renovations. Another cost $20.8 million and sits on an 8-acre tract. He later sold this for a profit. His wife later bought an $11 million home that sat above a beautiful cliff.
He also bought properties in Minnesota, Maui, and Colorado, along with 16 antique boats valued at $9 million.
4. His Latest Startup Achieved a $5 Billion Valuation Less Than a Year After Launching
McClendon’s latest entrepreneur venture was becoming a fast success, although more recent media sources said that debt was catching up to it. The business, an Ohio startup called American Energy Partners, grew to a valuation of about $5 billion less than a year after it started, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2014.
A subsidiary of AEP, American Energy – Utica LLC, bought up drilling acreage in Ohio and sold bonds which were convertible into 15 percent of Utica’s stock if it became a public company. Because AEP and Utica hadn’t released financial results, the valuation was based mostly on promise. But it was still amazing for a company so young. The firm raised $2 billion in equity, including $750 million in convertible bonds.
More recent reports cast doubt on the company’s health. According to Forbes, AEP has almost been almost wiped out after McClendon spent billions of private equity money on new oil and gas acreage.
5. He Was Part-Owner of The Oklahoma Thunder Team and Once Owned a 100,000-Bottle Private Wine Collection
McClendon also made quite a bit of money from a personal wine collection. He had a 100,000 bottle collection and sold 75 percent of it in auctions, bringing in a nice profit from the sales, Forbes reported. One of those bottles was a six-liter bottle of 1945 Mouton Rothschild, valued at about $100,000. According to Reuters, author Benjamin Wallace described McClendon’s collection in this way: “It’s pretty much exclusively big-name trophy vintages. Just eye-balling it, it’s got to be worth millions.”
McClendon also owned a collection of antique maps worth $12 million.
He also owned a 20 percent stake in the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder team. McClendon once owned a rest stop in Oklahoma that had a 4-ton, 80-foot-tall bottle in front and 12,000 antique sodas, Business Insider reported.