Last Updated: January 12, 2024
Richest BusinessCEOs
Net Worth:
$500 Million
Jul 14, 1959 - Mar 2, 2016 (56 years old)
Oklahoma City
United States of America
💰 Compare Aubrey McClendon's Net Worth
Table of ContentsExpand
  1. Early Life
  2. Career
  3. Personal Life
  4. Death

What was Aubrey McClendon's Net Worth?

Aubrey McClendon was an American businessman and sports team executive who had a net worth of $500 million. Aubrey McClendon was most notable for being the co-founder, CEO and former chairman of Chesapeake Energy. Aubrey was also a part owner of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder.

Aubrey played a key role in turning Chesapeake Energy into one of country's largest natural gas producers. He was an outspoken advocate for natural gas as a cleaner and safer alternative to oil and coal fuels. At the absolute peak of his career, Aubrey was a billionaire and one of the highest paid corporate executives in the world. In 2008, McClendon was the highest paid CEO of all the S&P 500 companies, with a compensation package totaling $112 million.

On March 1, 2016, Aubrey was charged with conspiring to rig bids to buy natural gas and oil leases in Oklahoma. He was facing 10 years in prison. The next day Aubrey was supposed to turn himself into the police. Instead he drove his vehicle into a bridge overpass at a high velocity and perished. He was 56 years old and was survived be a wife and three kids.

Early Life

Aubrey McClendon was born on July 14, 1959 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to parents Carole Kerr and Joe Connor McClendon. He was the great nephew of Robert S. Kerr, a governor of Oklahoma and U.S. senator from the state. He grew up in Belle Isle, a neighborhood in Oklahoma City, and attended Belle Isle Elementary School. He went to high school at Heritage High School and graduated in 1977 as the senior class president and co-valedictorian. While a teenager, he started his own lawn mowing business.

McClendon attended Duke University and graduated in 1981 with a degree in history with a minor in accounting. He was particularly interested in the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era. He was also a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.


Following his graduation from Duke, McClendon's first job was as an accountant. He was inspired to move from accounting into the energy business after reading an article in "The Wall Street Journal" about businessmen experiencing great success in the industry. He began by working as landman at Jaytex Oil and Gas, a public company in Oklahoma City founded by his uncle, Aubrey M. Kerr, Jr. He left Jaytex in November 1982 to pursue his own business in the oil and natural gas industry.

In 1983, McClendon partnered with Tom L. Ward in a venture into oil and natural gas. They co-founded Chesapeake Energy Corporation in 1989 and both were 29 years old at the time. McClendon took on the role of chairman and chief executive officer while Ward served as president and chief financial officer. The company began drilling its first two wells in Garvin County, Oklahoma, in May 1989.

McClendon focused on drilling wells into unconventional reservoirs like fractured carbonates and shales. He was an early adopter of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques, which helped the company grow quickly and helped McClendon develop the reputation for being a visionary leader in the field. He took the company public in 1993. Over the following three years, its stock was the most successful in the country, rising 274% in value from 1994 to 1997.

Over the next decades, Chesapeake Energy continued to grow and McClendon amassed an impressive fortune. By 2008, he was the highest paid CEO of all the S&P 500 companies. He also developed a reputation for being risky. For instance, in 2008, he sold the majority of his 31.5 million shares in Chesapeake Energy, comprising 94% of his stake in the company and 6% of the company overall. However, the sale did not apparently negatively affect Chesapeake, as it continued to grow. Between 2009 and 2013, Chesapeake continued to grow its gas production from 5 million to 2.5 billion cubic feet per day. The company is also responsible for discovering large reserves of natural gas, helping reduce the cost of gas prices for consumers in the United States. In general, McClendon is credited with helping the United States develop its domestic oil and natural gas industries.

Hunter Martin/Getty Images

McClendon was involved in some conflict related to Chesapeake Energy when it was reported that he had used Chesapeake employees to perform various personal work and projects, including repair work on his house. However, he had reimbursed the employees and the company for their work and his employment agreement stated that such arrangements were permissible.

In June 2012, McClendon relinquished his chairman title though he remained CEO. He later stepped down from the CEO position in April 2013. At the time, the company was estimated to be the second largest producer of natural gas in the United States, following only ExxonMobil. Following his departure from the company, he retained the option to continue investing in Chesapeake wells through July 2014. Meanwhile, he founded American Energy Partners, PL, in 2013, a private oil and natural gas company.

In February 2015, Chesapeake filed a lawsuit against McClendon in which it accused him of misappropriating company data when he began American Energy Partners. The parties reached a settlement in 2015. In March 2016, a federal grand jury indicted McClendon for violating antitrust laws and conspiring to suppress prices paid for oil and natural gas leases by rigging the bidding process for leases. McClendon released a statement denying all charges. However, before his innocence or guilt could be proven, McClendon tragically was killed in a car accident.

Personal Life

McClendon lived in Oklahoma City with his wife, Kathleen Upton Byrns. They have three children – Jack, Callie, and Will. McClendon was an avid wine collector and his collection at one time included over 100,000 bottles. He was also a fan of basketball and was part of the investment group that moved the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008, where they were renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder. At that time, McClendon owned 20% of the franchise. He also made many sizable donations to various municipal and private organizations in Oklahoma City like the Boys and Girls Club of OKC, the Oklahoma State Fair, and the Oklahoma City Ballet, among others.


On March 2, 2016, energy tycoon McClendon drove his Chevy Tahoe straight into a concrete bridge at 88mph. He was not wearing a seat belt and the SUV exploded into flames. McClendon was killed instantly. One day earlier he was indicted by a federal grand jury. He was accused of violating antitrust laws from 2007 to 2012, while he was the CEO of Chesapeake Energy. He faced up to 10 years in prison.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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