21. PETER THIEL
Only Thiel, don of the so-called “PayPal mafia” (he cofounded the company in 1999 at 31, sold it four years later for $1.5 billion, and was an early investor in Facebook and LinkedIn,) could lose an estimated $5.5 billion in assets (through his hedge fund, Clarium Capital) in one year and still be called “an angel on a hot streak” by Business Week. 2009 may not have been his best year on record, but the 42-year-old archangel investor is neither down nor out.
"When [Gianni] Versace released his Bondage collection, it was as if Tina Turner had jumped up to testify amid a congregation of Carmelite nuns. Skeptics, retailers, even the most sexually emancipated editors were uneasy. Versace had reached his hand way into the depth of people's fantasies and snatched them up to play with in the daylight."