Malcolm Forbes

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Malcolm Forbes
Born Malcolm Stevenson Forbes
(1919-08-19)19 August 1919[1]
Brooklyn, New York
Died 24 February 1990(1990-02-24) (aged 70)
Far Hills, New Jersey
Nationality American
Education A.B., 1941. Political science
Alma mater Lawrenceville School, Princeton University[1]
Occupation Publisher, businessman
Known for Promotion of capitalism, lavish lifestyle, art collection, motorcycling, ballooning[1]
Net worth $400 million to $1 billion[1]
Term New Jersey State Senator (1951–58)[1]
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Roberta Remsen Laidlaw
Children Steve Forbes, Christopher Forbes
Parent(s) B. C. Forbes
Relatives Forbes family (publishers)
Awards Motorcycle Hall of Fame 1999[2]
New Jersey Hall of Fame 2008
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1941–1946[3]
Rank Staff sergeant[3]
Unit 334th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division[3]
Awards Bronze Star Medal[3]
Purple Heart[3]

Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (19 August 1919 – 24 February 1990) was an American entrepreneur most prominently known as the publisher of Forbes magazine, founded by his father B. C. Forbes. He was known as an avid promoter of capitalism and free market trade, and for an extravagant lifestyle, spending on parties, travel, and his collection of homes, yachts, aircraft, art, motorcycles, and Fabergé eggs.

Life and career[edit]

Forbes was born on 19 August 1919 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Adelaide Mary (Stevenson) and Scottish-born financial journalist and author B. C. Forbes. He graduated from the Lawrenceville School in 1937[4] and Princeton University.[5] Forbes enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served as a machine gunner in the 84th Infantry Division in Europe, rising to the rank of staff sergeant. Forbes received a thigh wound in combat, and received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.[5]

Forbes headquarters, New York City

After dabbling in politics, including service in the New Jersey Senate from 1951 to 1957 and an unsuccessful candidacy for Governor of New Jersey,[5] he committed to the magazine full-time by 1957, three years after his father's death. After the death of his brother Bruce Charles Forbes in 1964, he acquired sole control of the company.

The magazine grew steadily under his leadership, and he diversified into real estate sales and other ventures. One of his last projects was the magazine Egg, which chronicled New York's nightlife. (The title had nothing to do with Forbes's famous Fabergé egg collection.) To honor his contribution to the magazine, Forbes won the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism in 1989.[6]

Malcolm Forbes had a lavish lifestyle, exemplified by his private Capitalist Tool Boeing 727 trijet, ever larger Highlander yachts, huge art collection, substantial collection of Harley-Davidson motorbikes, his French Chateau (Château de Balleroy in Normandy), his collections of special shape hot air balloons and historical documents, as well as his opulent birthday parties. Additionally in the mid-1960s he was a fixture at NYC's famous Cat Club on Wednesday nights, supporting local musical talents.

He chose the Palais Mendoub (which he had acquired from the Moroccan government in 1970) in the northwestern city of Tangier, Morocco, to host his 70th birthday party. Spending an estimated $2.5 million, he chartered a Boeing 747, a DC-8 and a Concorde to fly in eight hundred of the world's rich and famous from New York and London. The guests included his friend Elizabeth Taylor (who acted as a co-host), Gianni Agnelli, Robert Maxwell, Barbara Walters, Henry Kissinger, half a dozen US state governors, and the CEOs of scores of multinational corporations likely to advertise in his magazine. The party entertainment was on a grand scale, including 600 drummers, acrobats and dancers and a fantasia – a cavalry charge which ends with the firing of muskets into the air – by 300 Berber horsemen.

Forbes became a motorcyclist late in life. He founded and rode with a motorcycle club called the Capitalist Tools. His estate in New Jersey was a regular meeting place for tours that he organised for fellow New Jersey and New York motorcyclists. He had a stable of motorcycles but was partial to Harley-Davidson machines. He was known for his gift of Purple Passion, a Harley-Davidson, to actress Elizabeth Taylor. He was also instrumental in getting legislation passed to allow motorcycles on the cars-only Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. He was inducted to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.[2] In 2008, he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.[7]


Forbes died in 1990 of a heart attack, at his home in Far Hills, New Jersey.[5] In March 1990, soon after his death, OutWeek magazine published a story with the cover headline "The Secret Gay Life of Malcolm Forbes," by Michelangelo Signorile, which outed Forbes as a gay man.[8] Signorile was critical of the media for helping Forbes publicise many aspects of his life while keeping his homosexuality a secret. The writer asked, "Is our society so overwhelmingly repressive that even individuals as all-powerful as the late Malcolm Forbes feel they absolutely cannot come out of the closet?"[9] Even in death, the media was reluctant to disclose his sexuality; the New York Times would refer only to him as a "famous, deceased millionaire"[8] while reporting on the controversy. Since Malcolm Forbes' death, his son Steve Forbes has been editor-in-chief but the business is no longer family-controlled.

Donald Trump, in his 1990 memoir Trump: Surviving at the Top, alleged that his temporary removal from the Forbes 400 in the year Forbes died was due to a feud that had arisen after Trump had not allowed Forbes to bring "two young men who appeared to be well under the legal drinking age" into the bar at the Plaza Hotel. Trump stated that Forbes "lived openly as a homosexual... but expected the media and his famous friends to cover for him."[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Malcolm S. Forbes". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Malcolm Forbes at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame
  3. ^ a b c d e "Malcolm Stevenson Forbes". Hall of Fame. National Balloon Museum. 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "NOTABLE ALUMNI". The Lawrenceville School. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Malcolm Forbes, publisher, Dies at 70". New York Times. 26 February 1990. Retrieved 3 October 2010. Malcolm Forbes, chairman and editor in chief of Forbes Magazine and a flamboyant multimillionaire whose enthusiastic pursuits included yachting, motorcycling and ballooning, died Saturday of a heart attack in his sleep at his home in Far Hills, N.J. ... Young Forbes attended the Lawrenceville School and Princeton University, where he majored in politics and economics.... Entering politics in 1949, he was elected to the Borough Council in Bernardsville, N.J., and from 1951 to 1957 served in the New Jersey Senate and then ran for governor on the Republican ticket with a pledge of 'No State Income Tax.' 
  6. ^ Arizona State University. "Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication". Retrieved November 23, 2016. 
  7. ^ Rothman, Carly (5 May 2008). "Bruce leads first group of inductees into New Jersey Hall of Fame". The Newark Star Ledger. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Gabriel Rotello (May 1990). "The ethics of "outing": Breaking the silence code on homosexuality". FineLine: the Newsletter on Journalism Ethics. Archived at Indiana University School of Journalism ethics cases online. 2 (2): 6. Retrieved 3 December 2007. 
  9. ^ Signorile, Michelangelo (18 March 1990). "The Other Side of Malcolm Forbes" (PDF). Outweek (38): 40–45. 
  10. ^ Donald Trump; Charles Leerhsen (14 August 1990). Trump: surviving at the top. Random House. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-394-57597-1. 
  11. ^ Briton Hadden; Henry Robinson Luce (July 1990). Time. Time Incorporated. p. 12. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul L. Troast
Republican Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
James P. Mitchell