Pritzker’s Wealth in Perspective

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama, left, greets Penny Pritzker, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Pritzker Realty Group LLC and Obama’s nominee as secretary of commerce, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 2013.

Is Penny Pritzker the wealthiest person ever to be nominated to the president’s Cabinet?

No.

The Chicago businesswoman, philanthropist and political fundraiser has a personal net worth estimated at more than $1.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

That’s chump change, when compared with Andrew W. Mellon, a banker who was secretary of the treasury before and during the Great Depression. Estimates vary, but when adjusted for inflation the Pittsburgh financier was worth tens of billions of dollars. Among the companies he helped found was Gulf Oil.

Mellon, a Republican, was appointed to his Treasury post in 1921 by Warren Harding. The Depression hurt his standing and he resigned in 1932.

An avid art collector and philanthropist, Mellon’s money and paintings helped establish the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

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