This week, we look back at four of our featured listings from six months ago, focusing on homes in Prospect Park South, Sunset Park, Clinton Hill and Park Slope.

What is the most awe-inspiring rags to riches story ever?


25.    Andrew Carnegie

This  Scottish-American industrialist started to work at a cotton mill for a  12-hour, 6-days a week job in America when he was only 13 years old  after his father lost his jobs as a handweaver in Scotland. Hired later  as a telegraph messenger at the
Pennsylvania Railroad Company, he was  able to climb the corporate ladder where he used his earnings to invest  in ventures that led him to build an empire in the steel industry  including his large-scale philanthropic legacy.

24. Oprah Winfrey

Born  to unwed teenage parents in Mississippi, this media mogul wore dresses  that her grandmother made out of potato sacks. After being molested, she  run away at the age of 13 and became a mother at 14, but her son died  in infancy. Sent to live with his father, a barber in Tennessee, she got  a full scholarship in college, won a beauty pageant and was discovered  by a radio station. Her empire is now worth $2.7 billion which she  shares with the world through her philanthropic works.

23. Maria Das Gracas Silva Foster

Born  in the poverty-stricken shantytown of Morro do Adeus, Brazil to an  alcoholic father, she earned extra money by collecting cans and paper to  continue her studies. She broke the barriers of the corporate ladder  when she was hired as an intern at Petrobras, an oil company, in 1978  and became the first female head of the department of engineering. She  also became one of the world’s most influential people as the first  female CEO of Petrobras.

22. Sam Walton

During  the Great Depression, Sam Walton and his family lived on a farm in  Oklahoma where he milked the family cow and delivered bottles to  customers to make ends meet. He joined JC Penny three days after  graduating from the University of Missouri with a BA Economics degree.  After WW II, with capital of $25,000 that he borrowed from his father  along with the $5,000 that he saved from the army, he bought a Ben  Franklin variety store which he expanded into the retailer giant Walmart  and the membership-only retailer warehouse Sam’s Club.

21. Chris Gardner

Born  without knowing his real father, he was driven out of his home by his  abusive stepfather. He enlisted in the Navy and later became a medical  supplies salesman. Due to the slump in his job and with his own family  to support, he became interested in stock broking after seeing a  stockbroker with a Ferrari. His travails of sleeping in a subway station  bathroom, being homeless, passing the licensing exam for stockbrokers,  and becoming employed by Bear Sterns was documented in his memoirs, “The  Pursuit of Happiness,” which became a hit movie as well.

20. Ingvar Kamprad

Living  on a farm most of his growing up years, this Swedish business magnate  had always been known for being enterprising even at a young age as he  bought matches in bulk and sold them individually to his neighbors. This  expanded to fish, pens and Christmas decorations. He also used the cash  reward that his father gave him for good grades and used this to create  a mail-order business that became the retail company IKEA. Furniture  became the company’s biggest seller, which made him one of the richest  men in the world today having a net worth of $3 billion.

19. J.K. Rowling

Joanne  Rowling, a native of Yate, Gloucestershire in England moved to Porto,  Portugal in 1990 when her mother died. While she was already writing the  Harry Potter novel even before her mother’s death, the seven-year  period that followed entailed a divorce from her husband in 1993, a move  to Edinburgh, Scotland and a life with a daughter living on welfare  while suffering from clinical depression until she finished the first  book in her famous series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” in  1997. She was able to finish it by writing on scraps of tissue paper  from the numerous cafes they visited to let her daughter sleep. With  over 400 million books and the worldwide success of the Harry Potter  franchise JK Rowling’s net worth is $1 billion.

18. Jim Carrey

James  Eugene Carrey was born in Ontario, Canada to a middle-income family  where his musician father worked as an accountant. However, things got  worse for his family when his father lost his job and they all had to  move to Scarborough. He worked at the Titan Wheels Factory for eight  hours a day while attending school, but never finished high school.  While living in a camper van, he started doing stand-up routines and  eventually landed a gig in the sitcom The Duck Factory. He first gained  recognition in 1990 when he became one of the casts in the sketch comedy  ‘In Living Colors.’ He later moved on to movies and became one of the  highest paid comedians in America.

17. Sheldon Adelson

The  son of a Lithuanian immigrant taxi driver, his mother ran a knitting  store from their home. He grew up in a tenement where he shared a  bedroom with his parents and three siblings, started selling newspapers  at the age of 12, and started his candy-vending machine business at the  age of 16. Though he tried his hand at various enterprises from packing  hotel toiletries to mortgage brokering his biggest break came from  developing a computer trade show. He purchased the Sands Hotel &  Casino and later the mega-resort, The Venetian, from the profits of his  ventures pegging his net worth today at $21.8 billion.

16. Kirk Kerkorian

The  Armenian-born Kirk Kerkorian grew up at the time of the Great  Depression, where he learned English on the street and dropped out of  8th grade to become an amateur boxer. He became a daredevil pilot for  the Royal Air Force during WW II and delivered supplies over the  Atlantic flying some of the most perilous routes. After quitting  gambling in 1947, he bought some charter planes and also engaged in real  estate in Las Vegas in 1962. He became the “father of the mega-resort”  when he bought The Flamingo and built the stalwarts of the Las Vegas  scene, The International and MGM Grand, which made him worth a few  billion dollars.

15. John D. Rockefeller

One  of six children born in Richford, New York, Rockefeller might have  inherited his good business sense from his father, a traveling salesman  who used all the tricks to get out of decent hard work and taught his  son to always get the best deal in all things. His mom struggled to  raise them and though they moved a number of times, he was able to  finish school and get his first job as a bookkeeper where he earned $50  in three months. He decided to put up a firm and built an oil refinery  with his friend Maurice B. Clark in 1859. He later bought out the Clark  brothers’ refinery firm and renamed it Rockefeller & Andrews. He  also founded the Standard Oil Company to become the world’s first  billionaire and the richest person in history.

14. Leonardo Del Vecchio

Del  Vecchio was sent to an orphanage when his widowed mother could not  support all five of her children. He worked in a factory that made molds  for auto parts and eyeglass frames where he lost part of his finger  during an accident. He opened his first molding shop called Luxottica at  the age of 23 which expanded to be the world’s largest maker of  sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses. Luxottica, the known maker of  Ray-Ban and Oakley eyewear, also owns 6,000 Sunglass Hut and  Lenscrafters retail shops. The second richest man in Italy is now worth  $11.5 billion.

13. Li Ka-shing

Born  to a family that fled mainland China for Hong Kong in 1940, his father  died of tuberculosis which made him quit school at the age of 15 to  support his family by working for 16 hours in a factory that made  plastics and plastic flowers for US export. He founded Cheung Kong  Industries in 1950, which manufactured plastics at first but later on  ventured into real estate. The 9th richest person in the world has  ownership in a number of multi-range companies from cellular phones,  banking, satellite television, steel industries, and shipping.

12. Howard Schultz

Howard  Schultz came from a poor family living in the Canarsie Bayview Houses, a  housing project in Brooklyn, New York, which made him want to have a  lifestyle beyond what his truck-driver father can provide. As he saw  escape in sport, he became a football scholar at the University of North  Michigan where he graduated with a degree in communication, the first  in his family to do so. While working for Xerox, he discovered a small  coffee shop called Starbucks and became captivated by it. He left Xerox  and became the first CEO of Starbucks in 1987, which he expanded from  its first 60 shops to over 16,000 outlets worldwide, giving him a net  worth of $1.5 billion.

11. Ursula Burns

Ursula  Burns grew up in a housing project in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a  hub for gangs. She was raised by her Panamanian-immigrant single mother  who ran a daycare center at her home and ironed shirts for a fee so that  she could send Ursula to Cathedral High School. She earned her  Mechanical Engineering degree at NYU and became an intern at Xerox.  Ursula Burns became the first African-American woman to ever lead a  Fortune 500 Company and the 14th most powerful woman in the world.

10. John Paul DeJoria

Before  John Paul Mitchell Systems became a success, its founder, John Paul  DeJoria had a rough life. After his parents divorced when he was just 2  years old, he sold newspapers and Christmas cards to help his family  until the age of 10 when he was sent to live in a foster home. An LA  gang member before he joined the military, he was also employed by  Redken Laboratories. He loaned $700 and founded JPM Systems to sell his  company’s shampoo door-to-door while living out of his car. Today JPM  Systems’ annual profit is nearly $900 million.

9. Guy Laliberté

Before  Cirque du Soleil came to life, its founder, Canadian-born Laliberté  started his acts in circus as a fire-eater that walks on stilts. His  venture paid off when he brought his successful troupe in 1987 from  Quebec to the Los Angeles Arts Festival with no guarantee of a return  fare for the cast. He now commands a total net worth of $2.5 billion.

8. Do Won Chang

Do  Won Chang had to work three jobs as a janitor, gas station employee,  and coffee shop attendant to support his family when they moved from  Korea to America in 1981. After three years of thrift-spending, he was  able to open his first retail store Fashion 21, which grew to be the  retail clothing giant Forever 21, a pioneer in fast fashion. The  multinational clothing empire with over 480 outlets worldwide generates  an annual income of $3 billion.

7. George Soros

After  surviving the Nazi occupation of Hungary in 1947, George Soros escaped  the country to stay with his relatives in London. He supported his  studies by working as a waiter and railway porter and then sold goods at  a souvenir shop after graduating. He also wrote every merchant bank in  England until he gained an entry-level job at Singer & Friedlander.  He became “the man who broke the bank of England” due to his famous bet  against the British pound in 1992, where he earned more than a billion  dollars in profit in one plunge in the Black Wednesday UK currency  crisis.

6. Zdenek Bakala

With  just a $50 bill wrapped in plastic and hidden in a sandwich, Zdenek  Bakala fled communist Czechoslovakia in 1980 when he was 19 years old  and made it to Lake Tahoe. He worked as a dishwasher at Harrah’s Casino  while studying for his undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and an MBA  from Dartmouth. He later on ventured in banking, opened his first  company Credit Suisse First Boston in Prague after the fall of the  Berlin Wall and presided over a coal company that has a $2.52 billion  market.
5. Harold Simmons

Harold  Simmons grew up in a shack in the poor rural town of Golden, Texas with  no plumbing or electricity. He still managed, however, to graduate with  a B.A. and masters in Economics from the University of Texas. His first  venture was a series of drugstores which were almost entirely funded  with a loan. This became a 100-store chain which he sold to Eckerd for  $50 million. He became famous as a master of the corporate buyout and  currently owns 6 companies that trade on the NYSE including the world’s  largest producer of titanium, Titanium Metals Corporation.

4. Richard Desmond

Richard  Desmond was raised by a single mother living on top of a garage. He  quit school at the age of 14 to focus on being a drummer while working  as a coat-checker to help pay bills. Though he never became famous for  his musical abilities, he later opened his own record store and  published his first magazine, “International Musician and Recording  World” and expanded the Desmond magazine empire with publications such  as the British version of Penthouse and OK!. He now owns a number of  publications around the world and was listed on the 2011 Sunday Times  Rich List with a net worth of £950 million.

3. Harry Wayne Huizenga

Harry  Wayne Huizenga was born in Chicago, Illinois to an abusive father. His  family moved to Florida to save his parents marriage but his father  never changed. He moved back to Chicago to go to college but soon  dropped out and then signed up to be a reserve in the Army. He went back  to Florida after his training and bought his first dump truck to start a  trash disposal business. This venture became highly profitable so he  purchased more garbage trucks and later built his company, the Waste  Management Inc, which became well-known all over the US. He also  purchased Blockbuster stores, which later merged with Viacom. He is  credited for founding three Fortune 500 companies.

2. Richard Branson

Born  to a family of lawyers in Blackheath, London, he had poor academic  performance due to his dyslexia. Therefore, he focused more on his  business which included growing Christmas trees and raising parakeets.  He later started his own record mail-order business at the age of 16. In  1972, he established the record store Virgin Records, which prospered  in the 1980s with a number of outlets. He also created Virgin Atlantic  Airwaves, which expanded Virgin Records into a music label, making him  the 245th richest person in the world today.

1. Roman Abramovich

An  orphan at the age of four, this Russian business tycoon was raised by  his uncle and grandmother. He got his first break from an expensive  wedding gift given by his in-laws. He dropped out of college to pursue  his business, which included selling imported plastic ducks from his  Moscow apartment. He then ventured into managing the oil giant Sibneft  after taking it over in 1995. He continued to flip his investments with  profitable ventures such as Russian Aluminum and the steelmaker Evraz  Group. He is now the 5th richest person in Russia and owns the $1.5  billion yacht ‘Eclipse,’ the largest private yacht docked in New York  City and the Chelsea Football Club, among others.