- Richest Business › Richest Billionaires
- Net Worth:
- $1 Billion
- Date of Birth:
- Dec 25, 1887 - Jan 3, 1979 (91 years old)
- Place of Birth:
- San Antonio
- Businessperson, Hotel manager, Investor
- United States of America
What was Conrad Hilton's Net Worth?
Conrad Hilton was an American entrepreneur who had a net worth of $1 billion at the time of his death. Conrad was best known for being the founder of the Hilton chain of hotels. At his most successful point, Hilton owned 188 hotels in 38 U.S. cities. He also actively pursued other business opportunities, purchasing the Carte Blanche Credit Company and interest in the American Crystal Sugar Company. Hilton strongly believed in the power of prayer, and credited his mother as instilling him with a great sense of faith that got him through the tough times during the Great Depression.
Conrad's great-granddaughters are Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton.
Conrad Nicholson Hilton Sr. was born on December 25, 1887 in San Antonio (in what was then called "New Mexico Territory") to mother Mary Genevieve Laufersweiler and father Augustus Halvorsen Hilton.
Conrad attended the Goss Military Academy (now the New Mexico Military Institute), St. Michael's College (now Santa Fe University of Art and Design) and the New Mexico School of Mines (now New Mexico Tech).
Hilton served two years in the U.S. Army during World War I and served as a Republican representative in the first New Mexico legislature, when the state was newly formed.
Conrad's father was killed in a car accident while Conrad was in France after World War I.
As a kid, Conrad learned about business while helping out at his father's general store in Socorro County, New Mexico. The store was also a 10-room motel.
After a few varied career experiences, Conrad decided he wanted to become a banker. With the intention of buying a bank, Hilton moved to Texas in 1919 at the height of the oil boom. When the bank purchase fell through, Hilton instead bought his first hotel, the 40-room Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas.
The hotel was extremely popular. Rooms frequently changed over three times a day. Demand was so high that Conrad decided to convert the hotel dining room into additional rooms.
Profits were soon strong enough that Conrad began buying and building more hotels throughout Texas. In 1925 he bought the high-rise Dallas Hilton. In 1927 he bought the Abilene Hilton. In 1928 he bought the Waco Hilton. In 1930 he bought the El Paso Hilton. Hilton expanded to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1939 and built what is now known as the Hotel Andaluz.
When the Great Depression hit, Conrad narrowly escaped bankruptcy but he did lose several of his hotels. Despite the massive financial losses, Hilton was retained as manager of a combined chain. More impressively, over time he re-gained control of his remaining eight hotels.
Over time, Hilton expanded his business ventures to California, Chicago, and New York with acquisitions such as the Stevens Hotel (Chicago) and the Waldorf-Astoria (New York). The Stevens Hotel was the world's largest hotel at the time and was later renamed the Conrad Hilton.
Hilton Hotels Corporation
In 1946, Conrad founded the Hilton Hotels Corporation. Two years later he founded in 1946 and the Hilton International Company in 1948.
Hilton Hotels expanded rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s. As the chain expanded, American tourism boomed worldwide. With the boom, many other American corporations expanded globally to meet the demand.
Hilton is considered the world's first international hotel chain. The company is also credited with establishing a global standard for hotel quality.
In 1954, Hilton Hotels acquired The Hotels Statler Company, Inc., for $111 million. That's the equivalent of $1.1 billion in today's dollars after adjusting for inflation. At that time it was largest real estate transaction in modern business history.
At its peak of operating during Conrad's life, Hilton owned 188 hotels in 38 American cities. The company also owned and operated 54 hotels abroad. Their most notable US properties include the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Palmer House in Chicago, and the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Outside of Hilton Hotels, Conrad also owned the Carte Blanche Credit Company and was a major investor in the American Crystal Sugar Company.
He receivednotably received honorary degrees from the University of Detroit (1953), DePaul University (1954), Barat College (1955), Adelphi College (1957), Sophia University, Tokyo (1963), and the University of Albuquerque (1975).
Hilton's autobiography, "Be My Guest", was published in 1958 by Prentice-Hall.
Hilton was married to Mary Adelaide Barron (1906-1966) from 1925 to 1934. The couple had three children, Conrad Hilton Jr., Barron Hilton, and Eric Hilton. Barron Hilton's son Richard is the father of Paris and Nicky Hilton.
Conrad Hilton was married to actress/model Zsa Zsa Gabor from 1942 to 1947. They had one child, Francesca Hilton. In her 1991 autobiography "One Lifetime Is Not Enough", Gabor alleged that Hilton raped her during her marriage.
In 1976, Conrad married Mary Frances Kelly. They remained married until Conrad's death in 1979.
Conrad Hilton died of natural causes at the age of 90 on January 3, 1979.
In 1950 Conrad bought a mansion at 10644 Bellagio Road in Bel Air, Los Angeles for $225,000, which is equal to $2.5 million in today's dollars. He lived in the home until his death in 1979. Hilton named the 6-acre property Casa Encantada. Financier David Murdock bought the house in 1980 for $12.4 million, which is equal to $40 million in today's dollars. In 2000 Murdock sold the house for $94 million ($140 million in today's dollars). In October 2019, the home was quietly listed for sale for $225 million. The listing agent was Conrad's grandson Rick Hilton, the founder of the Hilton & Hyland brokerage firm.
Hilton left $500,000 to his two surviving siblings, $100,000 to his daughter Francesca, and $10,000 to each of his nieces and nephews.
After setting aside $500,000 to two siblings, $100,000 to daughter Francesca and $10,000 to several nieces and nephews, Conrad gifted the vast majority of his personal fortune to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which he established in 1944. Conrad's son Barron Hilton contested the will. A settlement was eventually reached in which Barron was given 4 million shares of the hotel enterprise. When it was all said and done, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation received 3.5 million shares and the W. Barron Hilton Charitable Remainder Unitrust received 6 million.
In 2007, Barron famously revealed that he was also planning to leave the majority of his fortune to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. This decision famously cut heirs like Paris and Nicky Hilton out of receiving a share of $4-5 billion in family wealth.
Today, thanks to Conrad and Barron's endowments, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation controls $6 billion. The foundation has donated $2 billion to various charities.