Haute Living’s annual listing of Miami’s most important Entrepreneurs, Thinkers, Entertainers, Originators, Philanthropists, Power Couples, and, of course, Billionaires.
LEONARD ABESS JR.
COMPANY: City National Bank of Florida
WHAT MAKES HIM HAUTE: Last year, Abess, the CEO of City National Bank of Florida, restored hope for the American employee with his unprecedented generous gesture. After selling his majority stake in the bank that his father co-founded, he dispersed $60 million of his $945 million windfall to individual tellers, bookkeepers, clerks, and every other staffer on the payroll, and even some who weren’t anymore. He was rewarded with presidential recognition in 2009.
S. DANIEL ABRAHAM
WHAT MAKES HIM HAUTE: This Palm Beach resident saved American waistlines with the founding of Slim-Fast in 1976, which has grown into one of the most successful diet lines available. He uses the windfall from that success to help others. He is very active in a number of causes and advocates for improving health care and nutrition. He also has strong ties to Israel, which led him to found the Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation, in 1989, and he still serves as the chairman of the nonprofit. His book, Peace is Possible, offers an unprecedented account of behind-the-scenes discussions with Middle Eastern leaders.
COMPANY: Deco Drive
WHAT MAKES HIM HAUTE: Thanks to his position as host of Channel 7’s local entertainment show Deco Drive, Miami-native Aguirre is a familiar face at society events across South Florida. With his creative reporting style, he provides those not-in-the-know with a glimpse at the good life of the other Haute 100 members. Thanks to guest appearances on shows like Sex and the City, Burn Notice, and in various commercials, he’s earned himself some national recognition as well, which led People En Español to name him one of the country’s 25 sexiest bachelors a few years back.
COMPANY: Sunbeam Broadcasting
WHAT MAKES HIM HAUTE: This Miami-based billionaire (who is heir to his family’s shoe-making fortune) joined his father in buying a Miami television station for $3.4 million in 1962. Today, Sunbeam Broadcasting operates WSVN Channel 7 Miami and WHDH Channel 7 Boston, two of the most prominent stations in the country. He is a big supporter of the United Way, so much so that the United Way of Broward County is housed in a building named in memory of his parents, Sophie and Sidney Ansin.
COMPANY: Carnival Corporation, Miami Heat
WHAT MAKES HIM HAUTE: This Carnival Corporation chairman and CEO saw his stock surge a whopping 59 percent over the past year, adding around $1.5 billion to his personal net worth and bringing the total to around $4.4 billion. Carnival, which operates 11 cruise lines, claims that at any given time, some 225,000 people are sailing on one of its 95 ships around the globe. As if that wouldn’t keep him busy, Arison also took control of the Miami Heat in 1995 as managing general partner and guided the franchise to its first NBA championship in 2006. The Heat has made the playoffs 11 out of the 14 years he has been in control. Most recently, Arison made headlines when he personally donated $5 million to Haitian earthquake relief efforts.
J. RICKY ARRIOLA
COMPANY: Inktel Direct
INDUSTRY: Direct Marketing
WHAT MAKES HIM HAUTE: Not only is he the CEO of Inktel Direct, a company that is consistently voted the best place to work in South Florida, he also is the chairman of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, where he is credited with getting the institution’s financials out of the red and into the black years ahead of schedule, thanks in part to innovative programming decisions. On a national scale, this Aspen Institute fellow was appointed by President Obama to be on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities alongside luminaries like Forest Whitaker, Sarah Jessica Parker, Yo-Yo Ma, and Anna Wintour. He’s also a member of the Democratic National Committee and currently working on three political campaigns, including one for Alex Sink, who is running for governor of Florida.
COMPANY: Adrienne Arsht Center
INDUSTRY: Performing Arts
WHAT MAKES HER HAUTE: For 10 years, Arsht served as chairman of the board of TotalBank of Miami, which under her leadership, grew to have some $1.4 billion in assets. She sold the bank to Banco Popular Español in 2007, and since that time, she has all but dedicated her life to philanthropy. She divides her time between Miami, New York, and Washington D.C., and she makes headlines in each of her hometowns for her generous gestures. Here in Miami, Arsht became the first woman to join the Million Dollar Roundtable of United Way of Miami-Dade in 2004, and, in 2008, committed more than $6 million to the University of Miami. But nothing tops her pledge of $30 million to Miami’s then-struggling Performing Arts Center, which thereby became known as the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
COMPANY: Bay Films
WHAT MAKES HIM HAUTE: He is one of Hollywood’s most bankable directors, producing action flicks that put him in the limelight and in the black, with global ticket sales surpassing the $3 billion mark. Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, and Transformers are among his list of credits, and each film is loaded with his special brand of over-the-top effects. The Hollywood power player uses his home on North Bay Road in Miami Beach as a much-needed sanctuary after the draining filming process. The house itself may be familiar, as it was where the Hogan family lived while filming reality show Hogan Knows Best. Bay’s tasteful updates have allowed the estate to exude elegance, as we discovered during a photo shoot with Bay for the cover of Haute Living Los Angeles.
COMPANY: Michy’s, Sra. Martinez
WHAT MAKES HER HAUTE: She began her career as a professional ballerina, but after just one class in nutrition, she tossed her slippers and hit the kitchen where she found her true calling. This Miami native is celebrated for her innovative dishes, which are spiced with her unique brand of Latin flair. Her vibrant personality and divine cuisine put her on the national map and earned her the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef: South, in 2007, for her work at her signature restaurant Michy’s. She is the author of Cuisine a Latina and has co-hosted The Melting Pot on the Food Network. Last year, she opened a second establishment in Miami, Sra. Martinez, where she puts her signature Latin spin on traditional Spanish tapas. The establishment, located in a former post office in the Design District, was named one of the best new restaurants in 2009 by Esquire. She also operates Michelle Bernstein at the Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach.
HALEY & JASON BINN
CATEGORY: Power Couples
COMPANY: Niche Media
WHAT MAKES THEM HAUTE: Jason got his start in the publishing world as the co-founder of Ocean Drive, along with Jerry Powers, in 1993. That little local magazine grew into a nationwide publishing powerhouse, which led to its purchase by Greenspun Media Group, which now operates numerous regional titles under the Niche Media umbrella. Jason is the founder and CEO of Niche. In 2003, Jason married real estate broker Haley, the daughter of Haute 100 Power Couple Alan and Diane Lieberman, in a lavish ceremony at the Fontainebleau, and the couple now has two daughters.’’