Malcolm Forbes

Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (August 19, 1919 – February 24, 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, and for an extravagant lifestyle, spending on parties, travel, and his collection of homes, yachts, aircraft, art, motorcycles, and Fabergé eggs.

Malcolm Forbes
Malcolm Stevenson Forbes

(1919-08-19)August 19, 1919[1]
DiedFebruary 24, 1990(1990-02-24) (aged 70)
EducationA.B., 1941. Political science
Alma materLawrenceville School, Princeton University[1]
OccupationPublisher, businessman
Known forPromotion of capitalism, lavish lifestyle, art collection, motorcycling, ballooning[1]
Net worth$400 million to $1 billion[1]
TermNew Jersey State Senator (1951–58)[1]
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Roberta Remsen Laidlaw
ChildrenSteve Forbes, Christopher Forbes
Parent(s)B. C. Forbes
RelativesForbes family (publishers)
AwardsMotorcycle Hall of Fame 1999[2]
New Jersey Hall of Fame 2008
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1941–1946[3]
RankStaff sergeant[3]
Unit334th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division[3]
AwardsBronze Star Medal[3]
Purple Heart[3]

Life and careerEdit

Forbes was born on August 19, 1919, in Englewood, New Jersey, the son of Adelaide Mary (Stevenson) and Scottish-born financial journalist and author B. C. Forbes.[4] He graduated from the Lawrenceville prep school in 1937.[5] In 1941 he received an A.B. from the School of Public and International Affairs, now Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, at Princeton University, with a 176 page senior thesis, "Weekly Newspapers - An Evaluation."[6][7] 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.[7]

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,[7] 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, and Forbes diversified his investments 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.[8]

Forbes was an avid but idiosyncratic collector. In addition to a huge art collection and a collection of historical documents, he collected Harley-Davidson motorbikes and specially shaped hot air balloons. He owned more than 365 works by Peter Carl Fabergé including a dozen Imperial eggs.[9]

Malcolm Forbes' lavish lifestyle was exemplified by his private Capitalist Tool Boeing 727 trijet, ever larger Highlander yachts, his French Chateau (Château de Balleroy in Normandy), as well as his opulent birthday parties. In the mid-1960s he was a fixture at NYC's famous Cat Club on Wednesday nights, supporting local musical talent.[citation needed]

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, six U.S. 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 ending with the firing of muskets into the air – by 300 Berber horsemen. Party favors included a custom-engraved Rolex watch for each guest.[citation needed]

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 organized 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 Garden State Parkway in New Jersey.[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

Forbes was married for thirty-nine years to Roberta Remsen Laidlaw before their divorce in 1985. The couple had five children: Malcolm S. Jr., Robert Laidlaw, Christopher Charles, Timothy Carter, and Moira Hamilton. Malcolm S. Forbes Jr., known as Steve, ran for president in 1996.[10]


Forbes died in 1990 of a heart attack at age 70, at his home, Timberfield, in Far Hills, New Jersey.[7] He was pronounced dead by his friend and physician, Dr. Oscar Kruesi.[11] 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.[12] Signorile was critical of the media for helping Forbes publicize 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?"[13] 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"[12] while reporting on the controversy. Since Malcolm Forbes' death, the magazine business has been run by his son Steve Forbes and granddaughter Moira Forbes.

Awards and honorsEdit

Posthumous honorsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Malcolm S. Forbes". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 30, 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. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  4. ^ James, George. "Malcolm Forbes, Publisher, Dies at 70", The New York Times, February 25, 1990. Accessed November 25, 2017. "Born in Englewood, N.J., on August 19, 1919, Mr. Forbes was the third son of Bertie Charles Forbes, a Scottish emigrant who founded Forbes magazine in 1917. Young Forbes attended the Lawrenceville School and Princeton University, where he majored in politics and economics."
  5. ^ "Notable Alumni". The Lawrenceville School. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  6. ^ Forbes, Malcolm Stevenson (1941). Weekly Newspapers - An Evaluation (Thesis). Princeton University.
  7. ^ a b c d "Malcolm Forbes, publisher, Dies at 70". New York Times. February 26, 1990. Retrieved October 3, 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.'
  8. ^ Arizona State University. "Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication". Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  9. ^ Yager, Jan (1998). "Patrons who make history" (PDF). Art Jewelry Forum (4). Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  10. ^ "Forbes, Malcolm". Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  11. ^ James, George (February 26, 1990). "Malcolm Forbes, Publisher, Dies at 70". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  12. ^ 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. Archived from the original on March 17, 2010. Retrieved December 3, 2007.
  13. ^ Signorile, Michelangelo (March 18, 1990). "The Other Side of Malcolm Forbes" (PDF). Outweek (38): 40–45.
  14. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  15. ^ Rothman, Carly (May 5, 2008). "Bruce leads first group of inductees into New Jersey Hall of Fame". The Newark Star Ledger. Retrieved February 17, 2015.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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