- Christy Walton
Ranking 6th on the overall billionaires list, we can say that Mrs. Walton knows her way with money. She inherited most of her wealth from her late husband John Walton, who died in a plane crash in 2005. His father, John Walton, was the founder of one of the world’s biggest retailers, Wal-Mart. With an amazing $42.1 billion, Christy shows she was not only able to pick a good family to marry into, but also to keep up the business when she was left a widow. Another source of Christy’s net worth is her 27% stake in the First Solar Company, which is worth around $1.8 Billion, making her the richest of the Waltons.
She is ranked as the highest female philanthropist according to the amount of money she gives as a percentage of her wealth. Between 2002 and 2006, when her estimated wealth was $16.3 billion, she gave a total of $3.5 billion to charity. She is well known for taking part in many non-profit organizations.
Apart from making and keeping her money, 60-year-old Mrs. Walton keeps a very private life in Jackson, Wyoming.
- Alice Walton
Besides Christy, the Walton family also takes up the 9th, 10th and 11th place on the Forbes list. Mrs. Alice Walton, another heiress of the Wal-Mart fortune, is the proud 10th richest person in the world.
Her net worth of $39.7 billion has given her the chance to focus on curating art, and open her Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas in 2011. This museum features works of Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as some pieces from her personal collection (valued in hundreds of millions of dollars). Christy Walton’s sister-in-law has also been spending her wealth on politics – supporting the Republican Party, and, lately, the presidential bid by Hillary Clinton.
Alice Walton has been involved in three serious automobile accidents. In 1983, she shattered her leg during a family reunion in Mexico, resulting in two dozen surgeries to ease the lingering pain she had felt. Later, in 1989, she struck and killed a 50-year-old woman, but no charges were ever filed. She was also caught driving under the influence multiple times, but, again, official charges were dropped.
She was twice married, but divorced both men.
- Liliane Bettencourt
This 92-year-old French lady is no longer the richest woman in the world, though her wealth has increased this year thanks to her company’s stock price. Pushed to the 3rd place, but still with $38.8 billion she can hardly feel bad. Liliane has been the principal shareholder of L’Oreal since her father died in 1957. Since 2012, though, when she lost the legal battle with her daughter Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, she is no longer involved in running L’Oreal. She was replaced on the company’s board by her 25-year-old grandson Jean-Victor Meyers.
Liliane is a big philanthropist. In 1987, together with her husband and daughter, she founded the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation (la Fondation Bettencourt Schueller) which supports and develops humanitarian, medical and cultural projects. This foundation also sponsors many prizes, for example, the annual “Liliane Bettencourt Prize for Life Sciences”, which is awarded to the top European biomedical researcher under the age of 45. Also, the foundation recently helped fund the Claude Monet wing at the Musée Marmottan Monet.
- Jacqueline Mars
As her last name says, this woman is, along with her two brothers, the owner of candy maker Mars, the largest candy company in the world. Her net worth is $24 billion, which puts her on the 26th place in the overall Forbes list. Jacqueline’s grandfather Frank started the company in 1911, and nowadays it makes the most popular candies such as Mars (obviously), M&M’s, Snickers, Twix, Milky Way, Uncle Ben’s Rice etc. Jacqueline and her brothers are all on the company board of directors, but have no role in its day-to-day operations.
In 2013, Mrs. Mars was involved in a car accident, when her 2004 Porsche SUV struck a Chrysler minivan with six people in it. An 86-year woman died at the scene, while the driver, who was eight months pregnant, miscarried. Mars was charged with reckless driving and pleaded guilty, and was ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 and her driver’s license was suspended for six months. Jacqueline claimed that she would help all the victims of the accident and will always live in grief because of what happened.
- Susanne Klatten
The richest woman in Germany, and number 45 on the billionaires list, Sussanne Klatten owes her fortune to the stake she inherited in automaker BMW from her father, Herbert Quandt. Susanne, her mother Johanna Quandt and her brother Stefan Quandt together own 50% of BMW and all three of them are billionaires. Susanne fortune is estimated at around $17.5 billion.
Susanne Klatten has proven to be a real business woman and economist. Apart from BMW, she also controls chemical manufacturer Altana, and holds stakes in a few other companies, such as carbon and graphite producer SGL, soil additive company Geohumus, oil recycling company Avista Oil of Germany and many more.
Susanne married Jan Klatten in 1990, and they have three children. They live in Munich. She is one of the biggest donors of the Christian Democratic Union, a center-right political party in Germany. Also, in 2007, she was awarded Bayerischer Verdienstorden, the Bavarian Order of Merit.
An interesting fact about Susanne: when she realized that her wealth is sometimes a problem, she started working incognito often as Susanne Kant.
- Laurene Powell Jobs
Steve Jobs’ 51-year-old widow, co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc. has a net worth of $17.4 billion. She is also the largest individual shareholder of The Walt Disney Company – she holds around 130 million shares.
She is the founder and chair of the Emerson Collective, an organization that focuses on advancing social reforms and helping under-resourced students. She also founded, with Carlos Watson, College Track, a non-profit college completion program in East Palo Alto. Since 2013, Powell Jobs sits on the board of directors of College Track, Conservation International, The Foundation for Excellence in Education, NewSchools Venture Fund and Stanford University.
Powell Jobs is also involved in politics – she is one of the biggest donors to Ready for Hillary, which supports Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. She is also a big fighter for the rights of immigrants, which is the cause of her many visits to Capitol Hall.
She has three children with Steve Jobs – son Reed and daughters Erin and Eve. In 2014, Laurene Powell Jobs was ranked the 29th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, which is 10 places up from last year’s 39th place.
- Anne Cox Chambers
The 28th richest person in America and the 51st richest person in the world, Anne Cox Chambers is estimated to have $16.7 billion. She is the surviving daughter of James M. Cox, and has stakes in Cox Enterprises (where she is also the director), a media empire that includes Cox Media Group, Cox Communications and Cox Automotive. The company holds newspapers, radio and television stations, cable television etc.
Anne was the U.S. ambassador in Belgium since 1977 to 1981. She was the director of the Coca-Cola Company during the 1980’s, and also the first female bank director in Atlanta. In 2008 she was a passionate supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Georgia.
This 95-year-old woman is also a supporter of a wide range of cultural and educational charities, particularly concerning art. She serves on boards of several museums, including Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney Museum in New York. Also, in 2005, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta named one of its wings after Chambers, in honor of her long support and help. In 2003, she became a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- Abigail Johnson
Abigail “Abby” Johnson is President and Chief executive officer of Fidelity Investments. This company was founded by her grandfather Edward C. Johnson II in 1946, and her father Edward C. “Ned” Johnson III is its current Chairman. Fidelity is the second largest mutual fund company in America (after Vanguard), with $1.7 trillion in assets under management, and Abigail looks like the apparent heir to the CEO role.
Although few outside the business world know about her, Abby’s current net worth is $13.6 billion. She currently serves as a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation. Also, she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. She is the first and only woman to serve on the board of the Financial Services Forum. She was ranked as the 6th wealthiest woman in America, as well as 34th most powerful woman in the world in 2014.
Abigail Johnson is married to Christopher J. McKown since 1998 and they have two children. They live in Boston. Despite the influence she has, she lives very quietly and gives few interviews.
- Johanna Quandt
Johanna Quandt is the third wife and widow of industrialist Herbert Quandt, who rescued BMW from bankruptcy. She is one of the wealthiest women in Germany, with an estimated net worth of $13.3 billion. Although she retired from the supervisory board of BMW in 1997, she still owns more than 16% of the company. Her two children – Susanne Klatten (number 5 on our list) and Stefan Quandt are also shareholders of BMW and they sit on the supervisory board.
The wealth of the Quandt family is said to come from the period of Second World War, where they allegedly supported the Nazi regime. A documentary called The Silence of the Quandts was made about their family and their activities during Hitler’s dictatorship. In spite of that, the family tries to live outside the public gaze. They live very quietly and all the members except for Herbert’s son, Sven, have refused to give interviews for the film.
In December 2014, the Quandt family was estimated to be worth around $43.7 billion. Johanna lives in Bad Hoburg, a town near Frankfurt, and is known for support of journalism and education and her cultural and social contributions.
- Iris Fontbona
Iris Fontbona is the widow of a Croatian-born billionaire Andronico Luksic, who died of cancer in 2005 and left all of his wealth to her and his three sons – Jean Paul, Andronico and Guillermo Luksic. They live in Chile and their largest holding is in their controlling stake in Antofagasta, one of the world’s biggest (and lowest-cost) copper mines.
Iris Fontbona has net worth of $12.7 billion and she is the wealthiest Chilean woman. She and the children hold the majority stake in Quinesco, a consumer packaging and beverage maker. Also, they have interests in Banco de Chile, as well as many businesses in port services, transportation, energy, etc.
As for her charitable activities, it is known that in December 2011, Iris donated $3 million to help Chileans with disabilities. That is around 0.017% of the family’s wealth.
Iris was Andronico Luksic’s second wife. They got married in 1961 and they had two daughters and a son Jean Paul, who is now the chairman of Antofagasta. She does not like to talk to the press and lives a quiet life.
- Gina Rinehart
The wealthiest person in Australia, 60-year-old Georgina “Gina” Rinehart, has a net worth of $11.7 billion. She is the heiress and chairman of Hancock Prospecting Group. In 2010s, she also bought a big share of Fairfax Media, becoming their largest shareholder, as well as a significant share of Network Holdings.
Gina is also a big philanthropist, often donating to different charities, but she likes to keep a low profile, as she says, partly to avoid being “harassed by other charities”, and partly for reasons of privacy. She has visited several girls’ orphanages in Cambodia, and is actively campaigning against human trafficking.
Since 2010, Rinehart has been actively promoting the development of the Australian North, and she wrote articles and even a book about it. Also, when it comes to politics, she is known for opposing the laws concerning taxes for mining.
Gina was married two times, to Greg (Milton) Hayward and Frank Rinehart, and has four children. She lives in Perth, Australia (where her mansion is valued at $20 million), and owns luxurious homes in several other Australian cities. She enjoys driving expensive cars, such as Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz.
- Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken
Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken is one of the richest women in the world, one of the richest women in Britain, and the richest one in the Netherlands, thanks to her 25% stake in Heineken International, which she inherited from her late father Freddy Heineken. Her company is the third-largest brewer in the world, with over 170 brands in more than 65 countries. Her stake in it brings her the net worth of $11.7 billion.
When her father died in 2002, Charlene inherited a billion dollar company, making her the richest woman with (dual) Dutch citizenship, overtaking Queen Beatrix. She is a member of St. Moritz’s elite Corviglia Ski Club and is said to enjoy music, photography and architecture.
Charlene is married to Michel de Carvalho, former Olympic luger and film actor (known as Michel Ray), whom she met at a skiing holiday in Switzerland. Her husband is a member of the supervisory board at Heineken. They have five children and live pretty anonymously in London, unlike her father, who led a jet-set life – he even had a yacht named “Something cool”.
- Carrie Perrodo
Carrie Perrodo (born Ka Yee Wong) is a Singapore-born business woman and a former super-model. Her net worth is estimated at $9.4 billion. She was already a model when she met, and soon married, French entrepreneur Hubert Perrodo. After that, she started her own modelling agency, Carrie’s Models, while her husband started his first oil business, and later formed Perenco, which later became one of the world’s biggest family-owned oil companies. Perenco has estimated annual revenue of $6 billion and holds operations in Gabon, Peru and Nigeria. Carrie sold the agency years ago, but it is active in Singapore to this day.
Hubert Perrodo was a great wine lover, and he bought the Bordeaux vineyards. He died in 2006 while hiking in the Alps, and the fortune, even though it is not yet settled, is expected to be passed down to his widow and their three children, Francois, Nathalie and Bertrand. Carrie is now 64, and she is one of the wealthiest women in Britain. Francois now chairs the company, while Nathalie takes care of the wine investments. Even though they are French, the family lives in London.
- Elaine Marshall
Elaine Marshall, with her net worth of $8.8 billion, is number 147 on the overall Forbes billionaires list. She is an investor, and she currently holds 15% of conglomerate Koch Industries, which is considered the second largest privately owned company in America, with annual sales of more than $110 billion. She inherited it from her husband, E. Pierce Marshall, who died in 2006.
The family is now spending lots of money thanks to Elaine’s father-in-law J. Howard II’s financial adventures and romantic affairs. Since 1994, until his death in 1995, he was married to a former stripper, the late Anna Nicole Smith, who then started several law suits in order to get a part of the family inheritance.
In 2012, Elaine was said to be the fourth richest woman in America. The only women ahead of her were the heiresses of Wal-Mart, Alice and Christy Walton, and the candy bar heiress Jacqueline Mars. Even though she became more famous when she appeared on the Forbes’ billionaire list for the first time in 2013, Marshall keeps her private life to herself, and if she does agree to give an interview, she denies being a billionaire.
- Margarita Louis-Dreyfus
Last but not least, 51-year-old Swiss widow Margarita Louis-Dreyfus has a net worth of $8.6 billion. She met her husband on a plane from Zurich to New York in 1988 and married him in 1992. It was the second marriage for both of them, and they had two children together. This Russian-born businesswoman is the owner of the French commodities giant Louis Dreyfus, which she took over when her husband Robert died in 2009 of leukemia. After taking over, she sold the company’s energy trading business in 2012.
Louis Dreyfus Commodities trades 70 million tons of agricultural goods each year, employing 30,000 people. And since 1851 it has been handed down from one male heir to another, until Margarita, also called “Tsarina”, inherited it.
Margarita grew up in St. Petersburg without parents, with her grandfather. She went to a boarding school during the week and would come home for the weekends. In her interview for CNN (link), she said that it wasn’t really cold and she didn’t suffer from hunger, but she had a life filled with love of her grandfather.
Margarita is also the owner of a famous French Ligue 1 soccer club, Olimpique de Marseille.