Who’s Maine’s richest person? Only #48 in a list of each state’s wealthiest

Leon Gorman, grandson of L.L.Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean, former chairman of the company’s board and its past CEO for 33 years, was singled out as Maine’s richest person in a tally by the real estate blog Movoto.

Like all viral state-by-state surveys, this one that hit the wire late Thursday has been buzzing about with observers sharing a wide range of impressions. For example:


But what’s perhaps most notable for Maine is that our richest person — from the mashup of net worth data at Forbes and Celebrity Net Worth — is only the nation’s 48th richest rich person, with a net worth of $860 million.

I know. I know. You’re thinking: How could that be? 

And so am I. Looking back, nobody from Maine even makes Forbes’ list of the 400 wealthiest people in America.

Maine is joined only by Alaska, North Dakota and, of all places, Delaware in having a richest person in the list worth less than $1 billion. (Pardon a previous version that incorrectly stated Hawaii was in that bunch.)

Wealthiest person by state map from Movato.

(Hat tip to keen observer Paul Suitter, who pointed out to me the letter-based coincidence that Delaware’s richest person is Robert Gore, inventor of Gore-Tex, and ours is named Gorman. Eerie.)

Also notable: Nationally, the chart shows just eight women as their state’s top earners (with men named Leslie and Whitney confusing attempts at quickfire accounting).

But back to Maine: while even our richest can’t get a break in the national survey, perhaps it’s not such bad news. That is, after taking a look at an interactive report from the Economic Policy Institute released in February.

That report showed total income grew an average of about 37 percent across the country from 1979 to 2007. Income growth in Maine outpaced that average, at about 40 percent.

For the top 1 percent of earners, total income in Maine grew about 149 percent during that period; for the rest, about 30 percent. Compare that with the disparity nationally, where income for the top 1 percent of earners grew 200 percent during that time; for the rest, it was a measlier-than-Maine 19 percent.

(If anyone has clues as to how this figure is affected by wealthy part-time residents who call another state home for 6 months and a day, I’d be interested to hear.)

By the EPI graph showing the share of all income held by the top 1 percent of earners, Maine is among states with the lowest disparity, at about 12 percent. That’s compared with a national average of about 20 percent in 2011, according to the EPI study.

So, our richest might not be everyone else’s richest, but that’s not necessarily a point of despair, especially since ranking higher would probably mean an end to that loosey-goosey return policy.

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Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.