How Did Charlie Munger Get Rich and Make His Billions?

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Nov. 1 2021, Published 10:37 a.m. ET

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) vice chair Charlie Munger might be Warren Buffett's right-hand man, but he didn't always maintain billionaire status. Like Buffett, Munger is a Nebraska native and has since grown his empire well beyond his roots.

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How did Munger build his wealth from the ground up, and what type of investments is he prioritizing right now?

Charlie Munger designs windowless dorm and buys more Alibaba

A new University of California Santa Barbara dorm, partially funded by Munger's $200 million donation, has received criticism. The dorm features primarily windowless rooms—so much so, that 94 percent of students would be without windows or access to fresh air.

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Munger backs the idea and told reporters, "If this building fails, it will be the first Munger building that fails."

Following design approval, an architect consultant for the school named Dennis McFadden resigned and said, "As the ‘vision’ of a single donor, the building is a social and psychological experiment with unknown impact on the lives and personal development of the undergraduates the university serves."

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Meanwhile, investors are looking toward another place Munger is putting his money—Alibaba (NYSE:BABA). After investing earlier this year, Munger has bought more BABA. As of Nov. 1, the stock has shrunk 25.37 percent in market value YTD.

Where Charlie Munger started

Munger grew up with Buffett and worked Buffett's grandfather at a grocery store called Buffett & Son in Omaha.

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Munger's father was a lawyer and his dad was a judge. Munger eventually graduated from Harvard Law School and at one point practiced as a real estate attorney. Munger's law career ended when he transitioned to real estate development and other types of investing.

Charlie Munger is a top Berkshire Hathaway executive and investment mogul.

After owning his own investment firm, Munger served as chairman of Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary Wesco Financial Corporation. There, Munger practiced his strategy of owning concentrated shares he knows will perform well in the long term.

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Munger's investment and business philosophies have been anthologized in a book called Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.

Munger is known for investment philosophies like the Lollapalooza effect, which occurs when multiple biases, tendencies, or mental models act in tandem with one another concurrently.

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Charlie Munger's net worth is in the billions

Munger is worth $2.3 billion currently. He has six children and two previous wives, both named Nancy, the latter of whom—Nancy Barry—he was married to for 54 years.

Despite his myriad investments, Munger criticizes neo-assets like cryptocurrency (he called Bitcoin a "noxious poison" in 2018) as well as online trading apps like Robinhood (which he has said is akin to gambling).

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Charlie Munger

American Investor and Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway

Net worth: $2.3 Billion

  • Birth place: Omaha, Neb.
  • Birth date: January 1, 1924
  • Children: Charles T. Munger, Jr., Emilie Munger Ogden, Molly Munger, Wendy Munger, Philip R. Munger, Barry A. Munger
  • Wives: Nancy Barry, Nancy Huggins

It seems like Munger always aimed to be wealthy. According to reports, he once said, "Like Warren, I had a considerable passion to get rich. [...] Not because I wanted Ferraris. I wanted the independence. I desperately wanted it."

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