Richest Business
Net Worth:
$200 Million
1946 (78 years old)
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What is Lou Pai's Net Worth?

Lou Pai is a Chinese-American businessman and mathematical genius who has a net worth of $200 million. Lou Pai earned his net worth through his tenure serving as the CEO of Enron Energy Services and Enron Xcelerator, a venture capital division of Enron. During his time at the now-defunct energy company, Pai was often referred to as "the invisible CEO."

Lou Pai is somewhat notorious for being fired and forced to sell the majority of his Enron shares several years before the company imploded. He is one of the few former Enron executives who ended up with a massive fortune.

Early Life

Lou Pai was born 白露龍 in Nanjing, China in 1946. He moved to the United Sates when he was two years old. The family settled in Maryland where his father landed a job as a professor of aeronautics at the University of Maryland, College Park. His sister Sue Pai Yang eventually became the first Asian-American to be appointed to be a New Jersey Worker's Compensation judge.

A math prodigy from a very young age, Lou eventually earned Bachelor's Degree and Masters Degree in economics from the University of Maryland. After graduating he went to work for the Federal government. At some point in the mid-1970s through 1986 Lou worked for the Securities Exchange Commission.

In 1976 Lou married his first wife Lanna. They would have two children before divorcing in 2000.


In 1987 Lou Pai left the SEC to take a job at Enron, which at the time was little-known regional energy supplier. At this time, future-CEO Jeffrey Skilling was working closely with Enron as a consultant for McKinsey. Skilling impressed Enron's CEO Kenneth Lay and was hired away in 1991.

Lou Pai and Jeff Skilling quickly bonded and rose the ranks of Enron over the next decade. Pai would soon be one of Skilling's top lieutenants and was put in charge of many key Enron projects and subsidiaries. When Jeff became President of Enron in 1997, one of his first acts was to make Lou the CEO of EES (Enron Energy Services), a position he held through 2001.


Jeff Skillings's major vision for Enron was for the company to transform from a regional energy supplier into a global technology and trading conglomerate. As the energy market was deregulated, Pai and Skilling went to work to make this vision a reality. Over the next few years Enron grew into the fifth largest company in the world by market cap, thanks largely to its natural gas trading desk. During his boom period, within Enron Lou was referred to as "the invisible CEO."

An Affair Leads to a Fortune

In May 2001, Lou Pai suddenly stepped down from Enron. It was later revealed that he had been using Enron's corporate jet for personal commuting but the true reason for his departure may have been related to an extramarital affair with a stripper.

Despite being married during his time at Enron, Pai was known to spend inordinate amounts of time during and after work at Houston-area strip clubs. Pai also allegedly brought strippers back to Enron's offices for late night parties. Word of Pai's strip club antics and expense account soon reached all the way up to Ken Lay, who was forced to issue a directive that strippers and strip club tabs could no longer be expensed.

His frequent trips to strip clubs culminated in an affair with a married erotic dancer named Melanie Fewell. According to legend, when asked by co-workers how he hid the smell of strippers and strip clubs from his wife, Pai explained that on his drive home from the club he would stop by a gas station and "spill a little gas on my suit," to literally throw his wife off the scent of his affairs.

The affair resulted in a pregnancy. When Pai's wife learned of the affair, she filed for divorce.

Perfect Timing

The divorce filing would inadvertently be an extremely lucky turn of events for Lou Pai.

Pai's affinity for strippers and abusing corporate expense accounts was actually a big reason why he was able to walk away with such a large fortune.

At the time Lou Pai's first wife filed for divorce, Enron was trading in the $80-90 range. Lou began offloading his company shares to satisfy his divorce settlement agreement on May 18, 2001. Between May 18 and June 7, 2001, Lou Pai sold 338,897 shares of Enron and exercised 572,818 options for total pre-tax proceeds of $270 million. In total he sold 100% of his stake, 911,715 shares.

Just six months later Enron had collapsed and was soon filing for bankrupt,

Because he sold all of his shares before the company imploded, Lou was shielded from the charges that many other Enron executives faced in the following years. He was eventually brought up on some insider trading charges. He settled those charges in July 2008, agreed to an out-of-court settlement that reportedly involved a $30 million restitution payment and a $1.5 million fine. In addition, he was barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company for five years (until 2013). He never served a moment of jail time.

Colorado Ranch

For a few years between 1999 and 2004, Lou Pai was the second-largest land owner in Colorado thanks to the 77,500 Taylor Ranch which he purchased for $23 million in 1999. Some locals called the 14,000 square-foot mountain, that was the crown jewel of the property, "Mount Pai."

During his time owning the property Lou stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy with local residents of Mexican decent. Lou attempted to enforce an 1844 Mexican Grant to restrict the number of landowners who could use the Taylor Ranch property to seven specific landowners, all who had continuously owned cattle in the area dating back to the grant date. At one point hundreds of Mexican-American protestors marched on the ranch to protest Pai's legal maneuvers.

Lou ended up selling the property a year later for $60 million.

(Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Life After Enron

After the divorce from his first wife was finalized Lou Pai did end up marrying the exotic dancer he impregnated, Melanie Fewell. She is now known as Melanie Pai. They have three children.

Lou and Melanie Pai are still married today. Outside of Colorado they operate ranches in Texas and Virginia. Both their Texas and Virginia ranches are called Canaan Ranch. They are especially involved in the Olympic sport of dressage.

In May 2022 Lou and Melanie paid $8 million for a 21-acre equestrian estate in Wellington, Florida. The property has three stables with stalls for roughly 40 horses, multiple outdoor jumping areas, five acres of pasture land and two apartments in addition to the main property.

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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