The Richest Women In The World 2015
It was yet another record year for women on the new FORBES list of the World’s Billionaires. Of a total 1,826 billionaires, 197 are women, up from 172 in 2014. That’s a nice gain, but women still account for just a small percentage of the list — 11% of the total.
Christy Walton, who inherited a stake in retailer Wal-Mart, retains the title of world’s richest woman. The widow of John Walton has held that spot for five out of the past six years. FORBES pegs her net worth at $41.7 billion, up from $36.7 billion a year ago.
Liliane Bettencourt, the principal heiress to the L’Oreal cosmetics fortune, is the second richest woman, the same rank she held a year ago. Bettencourt, 92, is worth an estimated $40.1 billion; she’s not involved in running the company her father founded. Her grandson Jean-Victor Meyers replaced her on the board in 2012. A trial of ten people who allegedly stole hundreds of millions of euros from Bettencourt began in January.
The third richest woman is Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton and sister-in-law to Christy Walton. She’s used some of her $39.4 billion fortune to purchase art, and in 2011 opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
One newcomer to the ranks of the richest women is Maria Franca Fissolo, the widow of Italian candy-and-Nutella tycoon Michele Ferrero, who died in February. Fissolo and her son Giovanni Ferrero, the Chief Executive of Ferrero Group, the sweets company, are inheriting one of the world’s largest candy fortunes, encompassing Kinder chocolates, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Tic Tac mints, among other brands. FORBES estimates that Fissolo and her son are worth $23.4 billion. She is the fifth richest woman on the list.
The sixth richest women is a notable name in Silicon Valley and education circles: Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. Worth an estimated $19.5 billion, she is focused on social reform through a group she started called the Emerson Collective and, through College Track, helping students finish college.
Many of the women among the billionaires ranks inherited their wealth from either their husbands or their fathers. Just 29 of the 197 women are self-made billionaires. One newcomer in that subset is Elizabeth Holmes, who, at 31, is also the youngest self-made billionaire in the world. She dropped out of Stanford with an idea for a better blood testing company that uses just a drop of blood. Theranos was valued by investors in 2014 at $9 billion, and she owns half the company, giving her a $4.5 billion net worth.
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