Every year, Forbes Magazine ranks the world’s billionaires, publishing a separate list for men and women. In February of 2016, the Real Time ranking used by the magazine indicated 167 women billionaires in the world. In October of 2015, that number was 187. This article takes a closer look at some of the richest women in the world.
1. Lillianne Bettencourt
Lillianne Bettencourt is not only the richest woman in the world, but also the richest woman in history. Her net worth is valued at $38.8 billion. Bettencourt was born in Paris in 1922 to the founder of L’Oreal, one of the largest cosmetic and beauty supply companies in the world. As such, she is now one of the major shareholders of the company, owning 30.5% of its shares. In 1987, Bettencourt founded the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation with the objective of developing humanitarian, medical, and cultural projects. In addition to its social outreach projects, the Foundation has also funded the construction of the Monet hall of the Museé Marmottan Monet.
2. Alice Walton
Alice Walton is the second richest woman in the world with a net worth of $34.6 billion. She was born in 1949 in Newport, Arkansas of the United States to the founders of Wal-Mart, a large retail chain. Reports indicate that she owns more than $11 billion in Wal-Mart shares. Walton began practicing watercolor painting with her mother as a child and today, she is an avid art collector. Some of her most extensive collections include works by: George Bellows, Martin Johnson Heade, Stuart Davis, and John Singer Sargent. Walton also has a record of driving under the influence of alcohol, leading to her involvement in several car accidents. Of these accidents, one ended with a fatal injury.
3. Jacqueline Mars
The third richest woman in the world and 20th richest person in the United States is Jacqueline Mars. She was born in 1939, the granddaughter of the founder of Mars, an American candy company. Mars attended Bryn Mawr College in the state of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1961 with a degree in anthropology. Her estimated net worth is valued at $23.9 billion; of this, approximately $22 billion is in shares and assets of the Mars company.
4. Maria Franca Fissolo
Maria Franca Fissolo is on the Forbes list as the fourth richest woman in the world. She is an Italian citizen and the richest person in that country. Fissolo is the widow of Michele Ferrero, the founder of Ferrero SpA. Ferrero SpA is best known for producing Nutella, a chocolate hazelnut spread, Kinder chocolates, and Tic Tac candies. Her husband died in 2015, however, the company continues to produce sweets. Fissolo has an estimated net worth of $23.6 billion.
5. Susanne Klatten
With a net worth valued at $17.6 billion, Susanne Klatten is the fifth richest woman in the world and the richest in Germany. She was born on April 28, 1962 in Bad Homburg, Germany to Herbert and Johanna Quandt. She inherited a large percentage of her wealth after the death of her father. Her inheritance is a 50.1% stake in Altana, previously a pharmaceutical company and now a specialty chemical company, and a 12.5% stake in BMW, the luxury vehicle company. Additionally, Klatten has a 25% stake in Nordex, a wind turbine manufacturer.
A more complete list of the world’s richest women can be found in the chart published below.