The likes of Kim Kardashian and Rihanna may be self-made billionaires, but most of the world’s richest women are actually worth at least 10 times what they are. The difference is that in most cases their wealth was inherited. But whether they were born into a dynasty or married into their windfall, even the richest woman on earth only has a net worth that’s a third of Elon Musk’s US$218 billion fortune. Still, one woman’s fortune is enough to at least beat Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth of US$71 billion.
Read on to find out how the richest women in the world came into their money.
5. Jacqueline Mars: US$32.6 billion
Mars Incorporated was founded by Mars’ grandfather Frank C. Mars in 1911, and the confectionery and pet food company behind the likes of M&Ms and Pedigree dog food has made his granddaughter a multibillionaire.
Mars worked at the company for nearly 20 years between 1982 and 2001 and, at the age of 82, is now worth more than US$32 billion as a result, according to Forbes. Aside from her work on the board of the company, she owns a horse farm in Virginia with animals that have been ridden by Olympic medallists.
4. MacKenzie Scott: US$43.6 billion
The ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has donated more than US$12.5 billion to more than 1,253 organisations in the past two years following her split from the former richest man on the planet in 2019, according to Bloomberg. The philanthropist has donated more than Bezos, who is currently the second richest person in the world.
Good News Alert:
MacKenzie Scott has announced she has donated $122 million to Big Brothers Big Sister of America. It's the largest donation in the organization's history.
Since 2019, Scott has donated nearly $12 billion to charities. pic.twitter.com/9Q4BLrica3
— Goodable (@Goodable) May 26, 2022
However, she still remains one of the richest women on the planet, with a net worth of US$43.6 billion. Scott received US$38 billion of her and Bezos’ US$137 billion fortune in the divorce settlement. She also got a quarter of Amazon’s shares in the split, but she has pledged to give away much of her soaring wealth. Her most recent donation was a whopping US$122 million gift to American youth mentoring charity Big Brothers Big Sisters.
3. Alice Walton: US$59.2 billion
The 72-year-old daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton was the richest woman in the world in 2020. She and her brothers share a 50 per cent stake in the company. Walton has been among the world’s wealthiest women for more than 10 years, and her love of art is well known. She is currently the chairwoman of the Walton Family Foundation’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Despite being worth more than the next woman in this list just two months ago, the Walton family lost a staggering US$19 billion in mid May 2022 when the company’s stock price slumped after posting its quarterly results. Covid-19 staffing issues, inventory issues and fuel prices all contributed to the drop, according to Bloomberg.
2. Julia Koch: US$63.4 billion
Julia Koch, 60, and her three children own a 42 per cent stake in Koch Industries, which was founded by her late husband David Koch. Koch was a philanthropist and conservative political donor at the helm of his US$100 billion company until he retired in 2018, then passed away in 2019 with an estimated net worth of US$50.5 billion. His older brother Charles owns another 42 per cent of what is now the second largest private company in the United States.
The youngest Koch sibling, Bill, sold his stake in the company in 1983 and went on to found Oxbridge Academy, the Florida high school that Barron Trump attends, in 2011. In 2019, he was estimated to be worth US$1.8 billion, but his sister-in-law Julia wins the title of richest Koch with a net worth of over US$63 billion. The New York socialite hangs in elite circles and made her debut as chair at the Met Gala in 1997, the same year that her husband’s foundation sponsored the event.
1. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers: US$74.8 billion
Before the first time Bettencourt Meyers made Forbes’ World’s Top Billionaires list in 2018, her mother Liliane Bettencourt had been the richest woman in the world. But since her mother’s death, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers – the granddaughter of French beauty giant L’Oreal’s founder – has topped the list of the planet’s wealthiest women. Bettencourt Meyers, 68, has served on the board of L’Oreal since 1997 and she and her family own 33 per cent of the company. She also works as an author and has written about Greek gods and the Bible.
Bettencourt Meyers’ relationship with her mother was a famously rocky one, and eight people were convicted of exploiting her ailing mother in a 2015 court case, just a few years before the Bettencourt matriarch died.
In 2019, the family and the brand teamed up to donate US$226 million to help repair Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral after a devastating fire.
Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.