Paul Pelosi, spouse & football team owner

By Laurie Bennett

November 8, 2009 at 8:33am

Paul Pelosi has decades of experience in avoiding the spotlight.

As wife Nancy ascended the political ladder, reaching new heights with passage of the health care bill yesterday, he quietly continued to build a fortune as an investor and real estate developer. (Open Secrets sets the Pelosis’ net worth, which is reported in ranges in financial disclosure reports, as somewhere between $33 million and $96 million.)

Yet Paul Pelosi has shed his low profile in recent weeks with the debut of the United Football League, in which he is both an investor and owner of one of the teams, the California Redwoods.

“He could do hundreds of deals for a lot more money and do them anonymously,” Michael Huyghue, the UFL’s commissioner, told the Washington Post. “But this is the one with the klieg lights.”

The UFL has some big players, in the front office if not on the playing field.

The league was started by venture capitalist Bill Hambrecht and AOL chief Tim Armstrong. Hambrecht and his wife are longtime friends of the Pelosis.

The league chairman is Henry Bienen, former president of Northwestern University. Bienen, a political scientist, has been a consultant to the Department of State and the World Bank, as well as to Bill Hambrecht’s old company, Hambrecht and Quist.

Financier William E. Mayer, former president of First Boston, owns another UFL team, the New York Sentinels.

If pro sports team ownership is largely a plaything for the rich, in California, vineyards have a similar allure.

The Pelosis also own one of those - 11 Zinfandel Lane, in St. Helena. In 2008, they valued the property at $5 million to $25 million, and reported grape sales of more than $100,000.

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