Chicago Businessman Barre Seid's Net Worth May Be in the Billions

Danielle Letenyei - Author
By

Aug. 24 2022, Published 1:16 p.m. ET

Chicago billionaire Barry Seid donated $1.6 billion to a conservative non-profit that works to confirm conservative Supreme Court judges, restrict access to abortion, and support other conservative agendas, the New York Times reports. Barry Seid, 90, built his net worth as the CEO of Tripp Lite, an electrical device manufacturer.

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There is little information available about Seid’s exact net worth. He has led a pretty secretive life, and, despite his wealth, you won’t find him on any Forbes or Bloomberg list of the world’s wealthiest people. Tripp Lite, where Seid worked as chairman and CEO for over 50 years, is a privately owned company that isn’t required to disclose its financials as public companies must.

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According to ProPublica, Seid’s annual income at Tripp Lite had reached about $30 million by the mid-1990s. Between 1996 and 2018, Seid reported $1.7 billion in income. By 2018, he had a 100 percent stake in the company.

Seid signed over his company stake to the Marble Freed Trust.

Seid bequeathed his 100 percent stake in Tripp Lite to the conservative political advocacy non-profit Marble Freedom Trust. So, when Tripp Lite was sold to the Irish power company Eaton for $1.65 billion in early 2021, the proceeds went to the trust rather than to Seid, the Times reports.

The political advocacy group benefited, and Seid avoided about $400 million in state and federal income tax through the transaction

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What is Marble Freedom Trust?

The Marble Freedom Trust is a non-profit political advocacy group formed in April 2020 and operated by conservative activist Leonard Leo, a longtime figure with the Federalist Society conservative legal group. The Trust is considered a “dark money” group, becayse it isn’t required to disclose its donors publicly.

Leo has built a reputation as a kingmaker in conservative politics. He has helped get several conservatives appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and has raised millions to help influence elections and support conservative agendas. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas once jokingly referred to Leo as “the No. 3 most powerful person in the world,” the Times reports.

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In a statement to the Times, Leo said, “it’s high time for the conservative movement to be among the ranks of George Soros, Hansjörg Wyss, Arabella Advisors and other left-wing philanthropists, toe-to-toe in the fight to defend our constitution and its ideals.”

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Seid has supported other conservative causes.

Although Seid has kept a pretty private life, he has been known to support some conservative causes. In 1990, he gave almost a half million to a Republican candidate for Illinois governor, and, in 2008, he donated to the campaign of a Republican running for Congress in Illinois.

Seid’s family foundation, the Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation, had a total revenue of about $2.9 million in 2020 and disbursed over $3 million to charitable organizations, according to ProPublica. The foundation has supported the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute of Economics and the Chamber Opera Chicago.

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