Like pretty much everyone else in the 1%, the richest woman in the world became a whole lot richer in 2019. We won’t spoil things by telling you her name just yet, but we can tell you that her current net worth sits at around US$57.7 billion. She’s joined by a number of veritable power players, many of whom inherited their fortunes in one way or another, but nearly all of whom know how to make that big pile of cash get even bigger.
Meanwhile, Chinese real estate developer Wu Yajun is the richest self-made woman in the world, who amassed her estimated US$9.4 billion fortune by co-founding Longfor Properties with her husband. Trailing somewhat close behind with a net worth of US$7.9 billion is ABC Supply co-founder Diane Hendricks, i.e. the richest self-made woman in America. Despite their impressive bank accounts, neither billionaire cracked the top 10 in 2019.
So who is the richest woman in the world? As we said before, you’ll just have to scroll through the list to find out. Along the way, you’ll see familiar names like MacKenzie Bezos, Alice Walton, and Laurene Powell Jobs. You’ll also recognise companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Mars, Inc, which respectively helped the richest women in the world either achieve or retain their superior status in 2019. Counting down from 11 (so as to squeeze in an Aussie), here are the richest women in the world.
11. Gina Rinehart
With her shady ties to climate skepticism, Australian mining magnate and heiress Georgina Hope “Gina” Rinehart doesn’t exactly do the nation proud. Nevertheless, there’s no disputing her impressive net worth of an estimated US$15.2 billion, which makes her the 11th richest-woman in the world and one of Australia’s richest citizens.
After inheriting Hancock Prospecting from her late father, Rinehart rapidly expanded the business during the iron ore boom of the early 2000s. The move paid off handsomely and she became the richest person in Australia from 2011 to 2015 and was even the richest woman in the world for a stint. Times have slowed in the years since, but her fortune remains massive nevertheless.
Current estimated net worth: US$15.2 billion
Primary source of wealth: Hancock Prospecting
10. Abigail Johnson
After working at Fidelity Investments for 26 years, company President Abigail Johnson took over as CEO in 2014. Two years later, she was named Chairman. The company was founded by Johnson’s grandfather over 70 years ago, and currently has over US$2.7 trillion in managed assets.
With her triplicate of job titles and estimated 24.5% stake in the company, Johnson wields copious amounts of power and controls 45,000 employees across the globe. As of 2019, she’s one of the richest women in the world and another example of someone rising well above their inheritance.
Net worth: US$15.6 billion
Primary source of wealth: Fidelity Investments
9. Iris Fontbona
Her full name is Iris Balbina Fontbona González, but you can call her Iris for short. Just kidding—you’ll never have the chance to call her anything because she lives way above your stratum. Following the death of her husband, Andrónico Luksic Abaroa, the Chilean businesswoman inherited multi-faceted conglomerate Antofagasta PLC.
Working with her three sons, Fontbona has helped Antofagasta grow in a number of directions. What began as a mining company is now the second-biggest bank in Chile, the biggest brewer in the world, and the manager of both the world’s biggest copper mines and world’s biggest shipping company, respectively. Through a separate business, Fontbona also owns a 70% stake in Chilean TV station Canal 13, along with two luxury hotel chains and a luxury resort in Croatia.
While Fontbona’s sons technically manage the day-to-day operations at these various companies, it’s long been said that she calls most of the shots from high above. As a direct result, one of the richest women in the world grew even richer in 2019.
Current estimated net worth: US$16.3 billion
Primary source of wealth: Antofagasta PLC
Age: 76 or 77
8. Laurene Powell Jobs
It’s hard to see the name Laurene Powell Jobs and not think of her famous late husband, but don’t take to mean she’s not a solid entrepreneur in her own right. Before she inherited billions from the Apple co-founder—who owned a significant amount of Disney stock—Laurene helped fund natural foods company Terravera and even worked for Goldman Sachs. We can probably assume she was giving her hubby sound advice when he was wheeling and dealing at some of the largest companies in the world as well.
Steve might also be proud to know that his widow continues to put that hard-earned fortune toward some terrific causes. Not only has Laurene invested in non-profit publications such as Mother Jones and ProPublica, but she’s also put serious amounts of money into XQ: The Super School Project, which tackles education from new and innovative perspectives. On top of that, she’s a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council.
Current estimated net worth: US$18.6 billion
Primary source of wealth: Apple Inc., The Walt Disney Company
7. Susanne Klatten
The richest woman in Germany is also among the richest people in the world. Her name is Susanne Klatten and she owns 50% of chemical company Altana AG, with a considerable stake in BMW as well.
In 1978, she and her mother were nearly kidnapped, which surely left an indelible mark. Decades later, she found herself embroiled in a blackmail scheme. Throw in her family’s former ties to both slave labour and the Nazi party and you have everything one would need for a pulpy potboiler!
Over the years, Klatten would occasionally go by a pseudonym so as not to be preceded by her wealth. She earned a degree in business finance and worked in advertising and then banking before inheriting her respective stakes in Altana AG and BMW.
Current estimated net worth: US$21 billion
Primary source of wealth: Altana, BMW
6. Yang Huiyan
At the young age of 38, Yang Huiyan is currently the richest woman in China. In 2007, she inherited 57% of property development company Country Garden Holdings from her father. The transfer of control came right before an IPO and coincided with a Chinese real estate boom, meaning her wealth increased immediately and exponentially.
Today, Country Garden Holdings is China’s largest property developer, and Yang is vice chairman of the board’s governance committee.
Current estimated net worth: US$22.1 billion
Primary source of wealth: Country Garden Holdings
5. Jacqueline Mars
There’s big money in candy, as evidenced by some of the world’s richest women. Among them is Jacqueline Mars, granddaughter of Mars Inc founder Frank C. Mars. First launched in 1911, the brand continues to deliver some of the world’s foremost chocolate candy, including Milky Way, Snickers, and M&M’s
According to most reports, Jacqueline owns a third of the Mars empire, while the remaining slices of pie belong to her brother and four nieces. Speaking of her four nieces, some of them are likewise among the richest women in the world. Like we said: there’s big money in candy.
While Jacqueline’s primary source of income might not be healthy by any conceivable standard, she puts a lot of money toward a number of great causes. In addition to owning an organic farm, she consistently donates to educational, environmental, and health-related charities.
Current estimated net worth: US$23.9 billion
Primary source of wealth: Mars, Inc
4. MacKenzie Bezos
It’s no secret how MacKenzie Bezos earned her substantial fortune in 2019, but she has plenty of ways to shake it off…about 37 billion ways, in fact. After 25 years of marriage, she and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos inked the most expensive divorce settlement in history, granting her 4% of the company. That made her one of the world’s richest women and the third-richest woman in America. Soon after the divorce, she pledged to donate half the fortune to charity.
Current estimated net worth: US$37.1 billion
Primary source of wealth: Amazon
3. Julia Koch
American businessman David Koch died in 2019 and that made his wife Julia a very wealthy individual. Specifically, she and her children inherited a 42% stake in Koch Industries. And that’s about all the time we want to spend on the Kochs.
Current estimated net worth: US$41 billion
Primary source of wealth: Koch Industries
2. Alice Walton
The second-richest woman in the world, Alice Walton inherited a superstore-sized fortune from her father, Walmart founder Sam Walton. While not involved with the company, she still owns over US$11 billion in shares. Her cousins have likewise raked in tons of cash from the Walmart dynasty. According to most reports, Alice prefers to spend her time and money collecting art and breeding horses.
Current estimated net worth: US$44.4 billion
Primary source of wealth: Walmart
1. Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers
And the title of “world’s richest woman” goes to…Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers! Congratulations, Françoise. More than a French heiress to the L’Oréal cosmetics fortune, she’s a notable academic and author, who’s written various books on religion. She’s also President of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, which has hundreds of millions in assets. Of course, it’s hard to see past that whole “L’Oréal cosmetics fortune” part, which is what’s made her the richest woman in the world.
Current estimated net worth: US$57.7 billion
Primary source of wealth: L’Oréal
Who is the richest female in the world?
With an estimated net worth of US$57.7 billion, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is currently the richest female in the world.
Who is the richest self made woman in the world?
The richest self-made woman in the world is Wu Yajun, Chinese co-founder of Longfor Properties. She's followed by Diane Hendricks, American co-founder of ABC Supply.
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