America’s Nuttiest Billionaire Couple: Amid Drought, Stewart And Lynda Resnick Are Richer Than Ever
The following is an excerpt from Chloe Sorvino | November 23, 2015 | Forbes.com |
For over four years a record-breaking drought has scorched central California with Old Testament cruelty. Drive west of Bakersfield into the heart of the San Joaquin Valley and soon you will be engulfed by sloping brown hills broken up by dusty, slate-colored fields. Desolate little towns off the highway dot the parched landscape. Lost Hills (pop. 2,412) consists largely of a tamale shack, a mostly empty James Dean-themed shop, a dilapidated tire store and a rundown pool hall.
Yet there is an Eden. It’s a little to the west of Lost Hills, off Route 33. Here there are rows upon rows of green–some 70,000 lush acres of water-hungry pistachio and almond trees. Come at the right time of year and you’ll see the almond trees blossoming, covering the valley in a blanket of light pink petals. This land belongs to the billionaire Resnicks, Stewart, 77, and Lynda, 72. It’s the most valuable part of their $4.3 billion fortune. Those crops and the land are worth more than ever before, about $3 billion.
Their oasis has plenty of water, the result of relentless opportunism that has given their orchards access to more water than nearly any other farm during the worst drought on record in California’s history. The Resnicks use at least 120 billion gallons a year, two-thirds on nuts, enough to supply San Francisco’s 852,000 residents for a decade. They own a majority stake in the Kern Water Bank, one of California’s largest underground water storage facilities, which they got fairly but sagely from the government 20 years ago. It is capable of storing 500 billion gallons of water. They have also spent at least $35 million in recent years buying up more water from nearby districts to replenish their supplies.
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