Ronald Burkle

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Ronald Burkle
Burkle in 2006
Born Ronald Wayne Burkle
(1952-11-12) November 12, 1952 (age 61)
Pomona, California, U.S.
Residence London, United Kingdom
Occupation Co-Founder and Managing Partner
The Yucaipa Companies, LLC
Years active 1986–present
Net worth US$ 2.7 billion[1]
Spouse(s) Divorced
Children 3

Ronald Wayne Burkle (born November 12, 1952) is an American business magnate.

Early life and education[edit]

Ron Burkle was born on Nov. 12, 1952, the the first of two sons, to Betty and Joseph Burkle in Pomona, California.[2] Joseph worked seven days a week, managing a Stater Bros. grocery store in Pomona and investing his savings in apartment buildings.[3][2][4] To see his father, Burkle stocked shelves in his father's store with bread and corralled shopping carts.[2][5] By age 13, Burkle had joined Box Boy Local 770.[5] At age 16, he graduated from high school and entered California State Polytechnic University in Pomona to become a dentist.[2][6][4] Less than two years later, Burkle dropped out.[6] At age 21, Burkle married Janet Steeper, a Stater Bros. clerk and great-grandniece of the aviation pioneers, the Wright brothers.[2] Burkle and Janet would have three children together. Burkle parlayed a $3,000 investment in American Silver and another metals company into $30,000 and began investing in and flipping undervalued grocery stores.[2] Burkle made at least one deal with assistance junk bond financier Michael Milken.[2][4]

Burkle was promoted to store manager at Stater Bros. and later became a vice president at Petrolane, Inc., Stater’s parent company.[2] When Burkle was 29, Petrolane decided to sell Stater Bros.[2] Burkle secretly organized a leveraged buyout with Charles Munger, the vice-chairman of Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway, who agreed put up half of the equity.[2][5] Burkle made his bid to Petrolane's board that was 20% lower than Petrolane’s internal valuation. The board rejected Burkle's offer and fired him.[2][5] Burkle's portfolio was by then worth some $5 million and during the next five years he continued to invest in stocks and oversaw his family’s rental properties.[2][5]


In 1986, Burkle founded Yucaipa Companies, a private equity firm[7] which invests in retail, manufacturing, and distribution. He also founded the Ronald W. Burkle Foundation.[8]

Burkle has served as chairman of the board and controlling shareholder of numerous companies, including Alliance Entertainment,[9] Golden State Foods, Dominick's, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, and Food4Less. He is currently a member of the board of Occidental Petroleum Corporation,[10] KB Home,[11] and Yahoo![12]

Burkle is a well-known Democratic supporter and fundraiser who raised more than $1,000,000 for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Bill Clinton is employed by The Yucaipa Companies to help identify possible investment opportunities.[13] He has supported California State Treasurer Phil Angelides and employed former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, both of whom are former California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) board members, but has also made contributions to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.[14] Robert Novak reported in June 2007 that 98 percent of Burkle's $1.5 million political contributions to date have gone to Democrats.[15] Burkle helped finance Al Gore's cable Current TV network.[16]

Burkle is also known for a tussle with the New York Post which tagged him the "Billionaire Party Boy".[citation needed]

Pittsburgh Penguins[edit]

He is part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins[17] National Hockey League team, although his current share is unknown. He co-owns the franchise with Penguins legend Mario Lemieux. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009.

Technology investments[edit]

He has invested in technology startup companies through A-Grade Investments, a venture capital fund founded by Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and Ron Burkle.[18] A-Grade's investments include SeatGeek,[19] SoundCloud[20] and Airbnb.[21]

Media Investments[edit]

Burkle has recently invested in a branded entertainment company, Three Lions Entertainment,[22] which focuses on branded entertainment events and cross platform marketing.[23]

Wild Oats[edit]

Wild Oats Markets was an operator of natural foods stores and farmers' markets in North America. Burkle started buying Wild Oats stock in February 2005. By the time Whole Foods Market, a natural-foods grocer, agreed to pay $565 million for Wild Oats, Burkle was the largest shareholder of Wild Oats.[24]

Golden State Foods[edit]

Burkle sold his majority stake in supplier Golden State Foods to St. Louis-based Wetterau Associates for about $110 million. Golden State, one of McDonald's biggest suppliers, operates 11 distribution centers in the United States and abroad and two U.S. processing plants.[25]

Follieri and the Vati-Con scandal[edit]

On April 30, 2008, a Delaware judge dismissed Burkle's lawsuit against Raffaello Follieri, ex-boyfriend of actress Anne Hathaway, after he agreed to repay $1.3 million Burkle loaned to him in the Vati-Con Scandal.[26]

Investments and transactions[edit]

Burkle's investments and transactions include:

Payola scandal[edit]

In April 2006, Burkle accused New York Post columnist Jared Paul Stern of attempting to extort money from him in exchange for stopping the publication of stories in Page Six, the paper's gossip column, about his private life.[35] Burkle secretly videotaped two private meetings between himself and Stern, with the second meeting orchestrated and monitored by the FBI. Stern allegedly asked Burkle for a $220,000 investment in his clothing business in exchange for better coverage. Stern was subsequently fired by the Post.[36]

Relationship with organized labor[edit]

Ron has received numerous honors and awards from labor including the AFL-CIO Murray Green Meany Kirkland Community Service Award [37] and The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Man of the Year.[38]


In 1974 Burkle married Janet Steeper, a great-grandniece of the Wright brothers. They divorced in 2003.[39] They had three children.

Burkle is a fan of historic architecture. In 2011 he purchased [40] the partially restored Ennis House, a Los Angeles landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Burkle also owns Greenacres, an estate built for Harold Lloyd. According to a Los Angeles Times article,[41] Burkle aspired to be an architect as a teenager.

In December 2013, Ron Burkle purchased an Olympic gold medal won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games for $1.4 million[42] and reputedly owns William Faulkner's Nobel Prize for literature.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The World's Billionaires: Ron Burkle". Forbes. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Miller, Matthew. "The Rise Of Ron Burkle". Forbes. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Complete Ron Burkle". The New York Observer. 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  4. ^ a b c Berfield, Susan. "The Other Ron Burkle". Forbes Businessweek. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Bruck, Connie. "Cashier du Cinema". The New Yorker. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Lubove, Seth. "Burkle Gets Bill Clinton's Ear, No Respect From Ovitz". Bloomberg. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Complete Ron Burkle". The New York Observer. 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  8. ^ "The Ronald W. Burkle Foundation". 
  9. ^ "#112 Ronald Burkle". Forbes 400. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  10. ^ "board of directors". Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  11. ^ "Ronald W Burkle". Forbes. Retrieved 2007-10-01. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Board of Directors". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2007-10-01. 
  13. ^ "The Rise Of Ron Burkle -". Forbes. 2006-11-12. 
  14. ^ Murdoch Donates $250K to Schwarzenegger
  15. ^ "#117 Ronald Burkle -". Forbes. 2006-09-21. 
  16. ^ Said, Carolyn (2006-03-16). "Newspapers may have an angel / Billionaire Burkle emerges as possible buyer, union says". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  17. ^ "Pittsburgh Penguins Team". 
  18. ^ "Ron Burkle Crunchbase Profile". Crunchbase. 2012-01-31. 
  19. ^ "New Ashton Kutcher Investment". Gigaom. 2011-02-22. 
  20. ^ "SoundCloud Receives Investment from Ashton Kutcher's A-Grade". 2011-06-15. 
  21. ^ Wortham, Jenna (2011-05-25). "Ashton Kutcher Knows His Start-Ups". NY Times. 
  22. ^ Miller, Daniel (2013-03-25). "Mogul Ron Burkle partnering in new branded entertainment company". The LA Times. 
  23. ^ "Three Lions Entertainment". 
  24. ^ "Ronald Burkle Harvests His Wild Oats". The New York Times. 2007-02-22. 
  25. ^ "Burkle sells 51% stake in Golden State Foods". Nation's Restaurant News. 2004-02-16. 
  26. ^ "Side Dish". Daily News (New York). 2008-04-30. 
  27. ^ Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (2010-03-01). "Burkle Presses Barnes & Noble on Stake". The Wall Street Journal. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Shwiff, Kathy; Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (2010-02-02). "Burkle Targets Barnes & Noble". The Wall Street Journal. 
  31. ^ Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (2010-02-19). "Barnes & Noble Won't Let Burkle Raise Stakes". The Wall Street Journal. 
  32. ^ Holmes, Elizabeth (2010-06-25). "Ron Burkle Reports 6% Stake In American Apparel". The Wall Street Journal. 
  33. ^ PR (June 28, 2012). Retrieved July 6, 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. ^ Nikki Finke (June 28, 2012). Retrieved July 6, 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ "HOW HE MADE HIS MOVE. Shaking down a billionaire". Daily News (New York). 2006-04-09. [dead link]
  36. ^ "Joe Tacopina To Testify About Bernie Kerik's Liesh". 
  37. ^ "AFL-CIO Murray Green Meany Kirkland Community Service Award". Burkle Center for International Relations. 
  38. ^ "Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Man of the Year". The Getty. 
  39. ^ Bruck. Page 81.
  40. ^
  41. ^ article
  42. ^ "Penguins co-owner Burkle pays .4 million for Jesse Owens' gold medal - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2013-12-09. 
  43. ^ The San Francisco Chronicle. 2013-12-09 |url= missing title (help). 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bruck, Connie: “Cashier du Cinema - Aftersupermarkets, privat equity and politic , Ron Burkle makes a move on Hollywood“. The New Yorker, Oct 8 2012, Pages 76 to 87.

External links[edit]