The 28-year-old lets cameras film his modest home – and opens up about life with his girlfriend

By Hilary Shenfeld
September 24, 2010 02:00 PM

One of the richest men in the world lives in a rented house with a sparsely furnished study that holds only three chairs, a table and two wooden shelving units.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared Friday on a live broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show to announce that he is donating $100 million to overhaul the failing Newark, N.J., public school system.

But Zuckerberg also let cameras in on his home and private life – briefly.

The businessman, 28, lives in a modest-sized rented house in Palo Alto, Calif., that he shares with his girlfriend Priscilla Chan. The pair met as students at Harvard (though he later dropped out).

Zuckerberg starts his day studying Chinese with a tutor in preparation for a trip he and Chan are taking to China at the end of the year. Film crews also showed the house’s open (but relatively small) kitchen containing an island and light-colored wooden cabinets.

Still, he’s rarely home, working up to 16 hours a day at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto.

Zuckerberg credits his work ethic and wealth to his education – he attended public high school in New York before transferring to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and attending college at Harvard – which is why he wanted to donate money to Newark’s school system. He also admires the vision of its leaders, Mayor Cory Booker and Gov. Chris Christie.

But what about the timing of the donation – just days before The Social Network, unflattering portrait of him and the founding of Facebook – arrives in theaters?

“It’s a movie,” he said on the show, adding that he initially wanted to keep his donation private but went public at Winfrey’s urging. “It’s fun. A lot of it is fiction.”

And, he stressed, real life is “not that dramatic.”

“The last six years have been a lot of coding and focus and hard work,” he said on the show. “But maybe it would be fun to remember it as partying and all this crazy drama.”