Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

What the 2016 US presidential candidates are worth

Plus: The mystery of Hillary's missing millions

Published: Oct 21, 2015 06:28:51 AM IST
Updated: Oct 16, 2015 11:33:25 AM IST

What the 2016 US presidential candidates are worth

Top to bottom, from left: Scott Olson / Getty Images; Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images; Scott Olson / Getty Images; Adam Bettcher / Getty Images; Daniel  Acker / Bloomberg; Johnny Louis / Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images; John Minchillo / AP; Ida Mae Astute / ABC / Getty Images; Charlie Neibergall / AP; Charlie Neibergall / AP; J Scott Applewhite / Ap; Paul Sancya/Ap; Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post / Getty Images; Ethan Miller / Getty Images; John Lamparski / Getty Images; Andrew Burton / Getty Images; Alex Wong / Getty Images; Scott Olson / Getty Images; Paul J Richards / AFP / Getty Images

Since Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House in 2001, they have earned more than $230 million. But in federal filings, the Clintons claim they are worth somewhere between $11 million and $53 million. After layering years of disclosures on top of annual tax returns, Forbes estimates their combined net worth at $45 million. Where did all the money go? No one seems to know, and the Clintons aren’t offering any answers.

From 2001 to 2014, the power couple spent $95 million on taxes. Hillary’s 2008 presidential run cost her $13 million. Their two homes cost a combined $5 million, and the Clintons have given away $22 million to charity. All of this is according to FEC filings, property records and years of tax returns. Add it up and you get $135 million. If the Clintons made $230 million, spent $135 million and have just $45 million left over, what happened to the other $50 million? “That’s kind of strange,” says Joe Biden’s accountant, Walter Deyhle. “You have to report all of your assets. You have to report assets that are owned by your spouse.”

What the 2016 US presidential candidates are worth
It seems unlikely that the Clintons could have spent all of it. Over 14 years, $50 million averages out to $3.6 million in extra expenses per year, or $9,800 per day.

Where could that much money have disappeared? The Clintons have been speaking around the world for years, and they count millions in travel expenses under their businesses. It is unclear whether they have paid for additional travel expenses out of their own pockets.

It seems unlikely, but they could have given it away overseas: Donations to foreign charities are not deductible and would not be listed on tax returns. Or maybe they have given millions to their daughter, Chelsea, although she has plenty of her own money, after working for years and marrying hedge fund manager Marc Mezvinsky in 2010. The problem with all of these ideas is they are merely guesses.

What we do know is that when Bill Clinton ended his presidency, he and Hillary owed millions in legal fees and were essentially broke.

But over the next 14 years, Bill used his fame as a former president to book appearances all over the world, charging around $225,000 per performance (and sometimes much more). He also earned millions working as an advisor to billionaire financier Ron Burkle.

By the end of 2012, the Clintons had earned $174 million since leaving the White House. Yet, in federal filings from April 2013, they claimed assets (excluding “personal use assets” like primary residences) of somewhere between $5.1 million and $25.4 million. That’s much lower than you would expect, even at the high end of that range. After taking into account record earning years in 2013 and 2014, we concluded that the couple has about $40 million in assets, plus the value of their homes (you can see our math at That leaves about $50 million unaccounted for.

To Hillary’s credit, she has released more tax returns than any other presidential candidate. But her openness has not extended beyond that. Forbes first reached out to Clinton’s office in May, has contacted her headquarters and foundation more than a dozen times, and even made an impromptu visit to her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn in September. Beyond a polite, “Send us an email”, we never received an explanation or a response. Guess this is a mystery for the voters to sort out.

—Dan Alexander

(This story appears in the 30 October, 2015 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)