The World’s 10 Richest Women, from Christy Walton to Liliane Bettencourt

The Daily Beast takes a look at the 10 richest women in the world.

Getty Images (4)

Getty Images (4)

Georgina "Gina" Rinehart, the mining magnate who owns and operates her late father’s Hancock Prospecting, is on the fast track to become the world’s richest woman after South Korean company Posco bought a stake in a major mining operation being undertaken by Hancock, bringing Rinehart’s net worth as high as an estimated $20 billion.

That’s assuming that family feuds—including Rinehart’s threat to stop paying ransom insurance for her children—don’t get in the way of her business concerns.

But how does Rinehart stack up against the rest of the world’s richest women?

The Daily Beast runs down the 10 richest women in the world.


Ron Galella, Ltd. / Getty Images

10. Anne Cox Chambers

Age: 92
Country: United States
Net worth: $12 billion
Notable company: Cox Enterprises
Current position: Owner, Cox Enterprises

Anne Cox Chambers’s wealth comes from Cox Enterprises, the media empire founded by her father, James Cox, which had its genesis in his 1898 purchase of the Dayton Evening News for $26,000. James Cox served as U.S. representative and governor of Ohio—and the 1920 Democratic nominee for president—and Anne followed suit into politics when she was named ambassador to Belgium in 1977 by Jimmy Carter.

9. Savitri Jindal

Age: 61
Country: India
Net worth: $13.2 billion
Notable company: O.P. Jindal Group
Current position: Chair, O.P. Jindal Group

One of the most powerful and wealthiest women in India, Savitri Jindal is at the helm of a large portion of the country’s steel production. She became chairperson of steel and power conglomerate O.P. Jindal Group when her husband—the eponymous O.P. Jindal—died in 2005 in a helicopter crash. Savitri Jindal also took over her late husband’s role as minister of power in Haryana, a position she held until 2010.

8. Jacqueline Mars

Age: 71
Country: United States
Net worth: $13.8 billion
Notable company: Mars, Inc.
Current position: Vice president, Mars, Inc.

Jacqueline Mars is the reigning queen of candy, with a slew of brands—including Snickers, Milky Way, M&Ms—that have become part of American life. Jacqueline is one of the few public faces of the Mars family—she attends society events, including for equestrian causes and arts benefits, and allows pictures to be taken of her.

Tommy Svensson

7. Birgit Rausing

Age: 87
Country: Switzerland
Net worth: $14 billion
Notable company: Tetra Pak
Current position: Owner, Tetra Laval

When Birgit Rausing’s husband, Gad, died more than a decade ago she inherited food-packaging company Tetra Laval and became one of the richest women in the world.

Volker Hartmann / AFP / Getty Images

6. Susanne Klatten

Age: 48
Country: Germany
Net worth: $14.6 billion
Notable companies: BMW; Altana
Current position: Supervisory board, BMW

Susanne Klatten got a double whammy of an inheritance when her father, Herbert Quandt, died. Not only did she get partial ownership of renowned carmaker BMW, she also got a stake in chemical producer Altana, which she now wholly owns. A trained businesswoman with an MBA might seem an unlikely suspect to have a sex-tape scandal, but that’s what happened to Klatten a few years back when con man Helg Sgarbi threatened to release private videos of the couple unless Klatten gave him 14 million euros.

Paul Kane / Getty Images

5. Gina Rinehart

Age: 57
Country: Australia
Net worth: $18 billion-$20 billion
Notable company: Hancock Prospecting
Current position: Chairman & Director, Hancock Prospecting

Gina Rinehart isn’t the typical multibillion-dollar heiress. She turned around her late father’s struggling mining concern, Hancock Prospecting, with an eye toward expansion and profit. Rinehart is in line to become the richest woman in the world next year, since she recently doubled her net worth by selling South Korean steel company Posco a percentage stake in Hancock’s Roy Hill iron-ore mine.

4. Iris Fontbona

Age: N/A
Country: Chile
Net worth: $19.2 billion
Notable company: Antofagasta
Current position: Owner, Antofagasta

Iris Fontbona became one of the richest women in the world after her husband, Andrónico Luksic, died in 2005. Luksic’s Antofagasta, still operates as one of the world’s biggest and most influential copper-mining concerns, and is the 30th-biggest company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

April Brown / AP Photo

3. Alice Walton

Age: 61
Country: United States
Net worth: $20.9 billion
Notable company: Walmart
Current position: Board member, Amon Carter Museum

Alice Walton’s riches come from none other than big-box-store pioneer Walmart, that all-American success story turned vilified behemoth. These days Walton focuses on philanthropy and adding to her extensive art collection.

Victor Boyko / Getty Images

2. Liliane Bettencourt

Age: 89
Country: France
Net worth: $23.5 billion
Notable company: L’Oreal
Current position: Principal shareholder, L’Oreal

The heiress to the L’Oreal cosmetics empire may be worth billions on paper, but her daughter pulls the purse strings. Bettencourt gave hundreds of millions in gifts and cash to photographer François-Marie Banier over the course of a decades-long relationship. Last October a court ruled that Bettencourt was not mentally able to control her assets and put her money in a guardianship controlled by her daughter.

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1. Christy Walton

Age: 56
Country: United States
Net worth: $24.5 billion
Notable company: Walmart
Current position: Philanthropist

The richest woman in the world (for now) is also a Walmart beneficiary. She received a sizable chunk of her fortune in 2005 when her husband, John Walton, died, and she contributes millions to charitable organizations, including the Walton Family Foundation.