Billionaire Co-Founder of D.C. Company Wins Oscar

WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL: Steven Rales, the billionaire co-founder and chairman of D.C. conglomerate Danaher Corp. (NYSE: DHR), is now an Oscar-winning producer.

Rales received an Academy Award on Sunday in the bestlive-action short film category alongside director Wes Anderson for “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.” Rales is a longtime partner of Anderson’s, with his Indian Paintbrush production house having backed eight of the director’s films — including features like 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and 2021’s “The French Dispatch.”

Rales and Anderson did not attend Sunday’s ceremony. Presenters Issa Rae and Ramy Youssef accepted the award on their behalf.

Rales and Anderson received two prior nominations together, in the category of best picture for 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” as well as for best animated feature for 2018’s “Isle of Dogs.” Anderson has received a total of eight nominations across five categories in his career. Sunday wasthe first win for them both.

“The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” is a 39-minute adaptation of a 1977 short story by British author Roald Dahl. It follows the titular Henry Sugar, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, who learns through a guru how to become clairvoyant and uses the skill to cheat at gambling. The film also stars Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel and Ben Kingsley. It debuted Sept. 1 at the Venice International FilmFestival and started streaming on Netflix later that month.

Rales and Indian Paintbrush have also produced films fromdirectors Danny Boyle, Jason Reitman and Park Chan-wook.

Rales, a 72-year-old Bethesda native, has a net worth of $11.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him one of the top 200 wealthiest people in the world.

Along with his brother Mitch, he built Danaher into a massive conglomerate of industrial and commercial manufacturers in the 1980s and ’90s. The company owns dozens of businesses around the world and posted $23.9 billion in 2023 revenue, a 10.5% decrease compared to the previous year.

Mitch Rales, 67, became a minority owner in the WashingtonCommanders last year through the $6.05 billion sale of the team. He reportedly owns a 13% stake in the Commanders, making him the franchise’s largest shareholder behind primary owner Josh Harris. Mitch Rales also owns Glenstone contemporary art museum in Potomac along with his wife, Emily Wei Rales. He has a net worth of $7.25 billion, according to Bloomberg. He remains chairman of Danaher’sexecutive committee.

Steven Rales is also involved in pro sports ownership. Late last year, he increased his minority stake in the NBA’s Indiana Pacers from 5% to 20% at a franchise valuation of $3.47 billion.

Steven Rales and his wife, Lalage Damerell, live in SantaBarbara, California, but as of 2019 also owned a home in the D.C. area. Danaher told Washingtonian that year Steven Rales is a “part-time resident of D.C.”

Other Academy Awards nominees this year with ties to Greater Washington include:

  • Actor Jeffrey Wright, a native of D.C. who grew up in its Hillcrest neighborhood, was a nominee for best actor for his role in “American Fiction.” Cillian Murphy won that award for his role in “Oppenheimer.”
  • Bradley Cooper, a 1997 graduate of Georgetown University, is nominated for best picture, best actor and best original screenplay for the Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro.” The latter award waswon by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari for “Anatomy of a Fall.” Cooper also lost out on the best actor and best picture nominations. “Oppenheimer” took the top prize.
  • Kemp Powers, a Howard University alum, was nominated in the best animated feature category for co-directing “Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse.” That award was won by Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron.”
  • Jack Fisk, who graduated from Alexandria’s Francis C. Hammond High School in 1964, was a nominee for best production design for “Killers of the Flower Moon.” That award was won by the team behind “Poor Things.”

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