1. Christy Walton – $42.1 Billion
The Waltons continue to hold onto the crown for being the richest family in the world, but Christy Walton holds several other distinctions as well. She’s the wealthiest woman not only in the US, but also the world, beating out her sister-in-law Alice by several billion dollars. Christy married into the infamous family who created Wal-Mart and inherited her wealth from her husband, John, who died in a plane crash in 2005.
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Christy Walton leads a rather quiet life, savoring her privacy in Jackson, Wyoming. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Walton’s wealth seems to be going nowhere but up as she stands to receive $470 million in dividends from Wal-Mart in 2014. And yes, that’s after taxes, mind you.
2. Alice Walton – $39.7 Billion
When you’re the daughter of legendary Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, well life can’t be too shabby. And for Alice Walton, her father’s fortune has gone a long way toward making her one of the richest women in the world. In addition to being the second richest woman in the world, however, Alice is also the chairman for the Crystal Bridges Art Museum where she’s donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of American art from the likes of Andy Warhol and Normal Rockwell. In addition to art, she’s also donated money within the political sphere, mostly supporting Republican party candidates – until recently. She’s recently donated $25,000 to establish a super-PAC backing a presidential bid for none other than Hillary Clinton.
3. Liliane Bettencourt – $39 Billion
Liliane Bettencourt may no longer be the richest woman in the world, but she still remains the richest woman in France. However, while her wealth grew in 2014, Bettencourt is no longer actively involved in running the company which led to her billionaire status, L’Oreal. Diagnosed with dementia, her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers proved that her mother was unfit to manage the company, and her 25-year old grandson took over her spot on the board. L’Oreal is one of the largest cosmetics companies in the world, and Liliana started working for her father when she was only 15 years old, mixing cosmetics and labeling bottles of shampoo.
4. Jacqueline Mars – $24 Billion
The Mars name is synonymous with yummy candy and chocolate, and Jacqueline Mars has her father and grandfather to thank for the lucrative sweets company that earned her a spot on our list. She and her brothers have an equal split of the wealth and all three serve on the board, but have no role in the day to day operations of the company. It all started back in 1911 with a small, homemade candy company run by Frank Mars. In 1929, her father joined the family business and the company invented the delightful nougat found inside the famous Snickers bar and the Milky Way as well. Then, of course, came M&Ms and the rest is history. Considering that many of these brands are some of the most popular candies in America, it should come as little surprise that the Mars family is still going strong to this day. In addition to candy, Mars also makes Uncle Ben’s rice, as well as Pedigree and Whiskas pet foods.
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5. Susanne Klatten – $17.6 Billion
BMW is a name synonymous with luxury and wealth, and it should come as no surprise that the family running this world famous company appears on a number of richest person’s lists. Susanne Klatten is currently the 5th richest person in Germany after she inherited stakes in BMW from her father. But in addition to her stakes in BMW, Klatten also has some control over a few energy companies, including chemical manufacturer Altana, and the wind power company Nordex AG. One interesting fact about Klatten is that she met her future husband while working as an engineer for BMW. She didn’t tell him her true identity at first, waiting until they’d already established a relationship before telling him the truth – that she was really a billionaire.
6. Laurene Powell Jobs – $17.4 Billion
Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of co-founder and former CEO of Apple Steve Jobs, so it should come as no surprise to see her so high up on this list. Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, but Powell Jobs continues to make a name for herself, especially when it comes to philanthropic and political endeavors. She’s one of the top donors to Hillary Clinton’s super-PAC and she uses her platform to advocate for pathways to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. In addition to her political pursuits, she’s also the founder of the Emerson Collective, an organization that helps advance social reform and help less-fortunate students. She also owns more stock in Disney than any other investor – a trust left to her by her husband upon his death.
7. Anne Cox Chambers – $16.7 Billion
If Anne Cox Chambers‘ name doesn’t ring a bell initially, no fear. Chances are good you’re more familiar with the products her family produced. Chambers is the only surviving daughter to James M. Cox who founded Cox Enterprises. Still not sound familiar? Well, you may have heard of Cox Communications, a provider of cable and broadband, or Cox Media Group which includes newspapers, and TV and radio stations, or if you’re into automobiles, then you’ve probably heard of something called AutoTrader.com or maybe Kelley Blue Book? Yep, you guessed it, that’s the Cox family and a large part of why Anne Cox Chambers is on this list. An interesting fact about her is that she was once the ambassador to Belgium during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.
8. Abigail Johnson – $13.6 Billion
The Johnson’s know a thing or two about keeping it in the family. Their business, that is. Fidelity is one of the largest mutual fund companies in America, and it was Abigaile Johnson‘s grandfather who started the company. Johnson started working for Fidelity before she even started college, taking orders from customers over the phone. After receiving her MBA from Harvard in 1988, she started working as an analyst and the rest is history. Or at least it’s history in the making. In 2012, she landed the role of president while her father remained the CEO. If all goes as expected, Johnson will be taking over that role from her father in the future.
9. Johanna Quandt – $13.1 Billion
From secretary to one of the richest women in the world, sounds almost like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? Well in Johanna Quandt‘s case, marrying your boss – who just so happens to be the German executive credited with saving BMW and pulling it out of bankruptcy – doesn’t hurt. She’s now the 8th richest woman in Germany, and the 10th richest woman in the world after she inherited billions from BMW’s rising stock prices. The last few years have been even more generous for Quandt and her family, and her daughter even makes an appearance on the list because of it. While Quandt retired from the board of BMW, she still owns a large chunk of the company. At 88, she lives a quiet life in Bad Homburg, Germany, a town known for its spas. Doesn’t sound like a terrible way to retire, if you ask me.
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10. Iris Fontbona – $12.8 Billion
Iris Fontbona is the richest person in Chile after the death of her billionaire husband, Andronico Luksic. Along with their three sons, Iris inherited his business, Quienco. Unfortunately, one of her sons died of lung cancer at the age of 57 and his son ended up taking over his role in the family business. The family still holds a major stake in the company, which is a consumer packaging business with interests in Banco de Chile, along with energy, transportation and port services. The family also has a controlling interest in Antofagasta, which is one of the largest copper mining companies in the world. And because they’re not all work and no play, they also own two chains of beach resorts in Croatia.