Who are the richest women in the world

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Illustration: Hevan Chan/Forbes

Julia Koch, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers and MacKenzie Scott, some of the richest women in the world

Women occupy a small but growing space in Forbes US list of world billionaires. This year, 369 of the 2,781 billionaires, or 13.3%, are womencompared to 337 in 2023, when they represented 12.8% of the list. Together, they have almost US$1.8 trillion (R$9 trillion)around US$240 billion (R$1.2 trillion) more than last year.

The richest woman in the world for the fourth consecutive year is L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers. His fortune increased by US$19 billion (R$95.9 billion) in the last 12 months, which made his net worth reach US$99.5 billion (R$502.7 billion), higher than anyone else’s woman on the 2024 list. In January of this year, she became the first woman to accumulate a fortune of US$100 billion (R$505 billion).

For more than two decades, a L’Óreal or Walmart heiress has held the top spot among the richest women. Bettencourt Meyers assumed the role for the first time in 2019, two years after the death of her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, who held the title for six years, from 2006 to 2017.

Alice Walton, the only daughter of the Walmart founder, is the second richest woman in the world, and held the top spot in 2018 and 2020. Her sister-in-law, Christy Walton, ranked above her for seven years after the death of her husband, John Walton, in a helicopter crash; Her fortune was later divided between her and her son, Lukas.

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Heiresses and businesswomen

Nine of the 10 richest women inherited their fortunes, whether from their parents, their husbands or, in one case, their mother. MacKenzie Scott is the only one in the top 10 who got her fortune through a divorce.

Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, with a net worth of US$35.6 billion (R$179.8 billion), a gain of US$11.2 billion (R$56.5 billion) compared to last year, despite working to distribute his fortune. The billionaire philanthropist recently donated US$640 million (R$3.2 billion) to more than 300 non-profit organizations, bringing her total philanthropic donations to US$17.3 billion (R$87.4 billion). If she hadn’t been so generous, she would have US$69 billion (R$348.6 billion) today and would be the third woman on the list, not the fifth.

Rafaela Aponte-Diamant, co-founder of one of the largest shipping companies in the world, is once again the richest self-made woman in the world. She is also the seventh richest woman on the Forbes list and the only one in the top 10 to have built her own fortune.

This year, 100 women on the billionaires list are self-made, which means they founded or co-founded a company or built their own wealth. Another 200 women inherited their fortunes, while 69 work to expand the successful businesses they inherited.

Abigail Johnson is the richest woman who inherited a company and is working to grow it. She is the 10th richest in the world this year, rising one position compared to last year. The CEO of Fidelity Investments replaced her father in 2014 and helped grow revenue to a record US$28.2 billion (R$142.4 billion) in 2023.

Read too:

Newcomers to the list of richest women in the world

They are 46 New Women Who Earned a Spot on the 2024 List, some due to the rise in shares and others due to inheritance. The richest newcomers are two sisters, Märta Schörling Andreen and Sofia Högberg Schörling, from Sweden. Their father, billionaire investor Melker Schörling, died in December 2023 and left his fortune to his daughters, aged 39 and 45. Each has assets of US$5.6 billion (R$28.29 billion).

Two other newcomers are from the technology sector: Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder of cybersecurity company Cloudflare, and Lisa Su, who leads semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices. Both benefited from rising shares in their respective companies last year.

The biggest highlight of this year’s list is the arrival of pop star Taylor Swift. Her Eras Tour earned her an estimated US$190 million (R$959.9 million) after tax, helping to make her the first billionaire singer exclusively from performances, recordings and a lucrative US$500 million music catalogue. 2.5 billion). She debuted as a billionaire in October 2023.

The 10 richest women in the world

10. Abigail Johnson Net worth: $29 billion | Age: 62 | Source of wealth: Fidelity Investments | Citizenship: United States The leader of investment giant Fidelity rose from 11th place to join this year’s 10 richest women. Johnson has been CEO of Fidelity Investments since 2014, after taking over from her father, Edward “Ned” Johnson III (who passed away in 2022). She owns an estimated 28.5% stake in the company, which has $4.9 trillion in assets under management and was founded by her grandfather in 1946.more
9. Gina Rinehart Net worth: $30.8 billion | Age: 70 | Source of Wealth: Hancock Prospecting | Citizenship: Australia The Australian chairs the mining and agricultural company Hancock Prospecting Group. She inherited the business from her father, Lang Hancock (died 1992). Her fortune has increased by 14% since March 2023 and she remains the richest person in Australia.more
8. Miriam Adelson and family Net worth: US$32 billion | Age: 78 | Source of Wealth: Las Vegas Sands Casinos | Citizenship: United States Adelson and her family own more than half of Las Vegas Sands, one of the largest casino operators in the world. She inherited the stake after her husband, longtime GOP kingmaker Sheldon Adelson, died in 2021. A doctor, she donated more than $1 billion over her lifetime to fund research and drug discoveries, according to with Forbes estimates.more
7. Rafaela Aponte-Diamant Net worth: US$33.1 billion | Age: 79 | Source of wealth: MSC | Citizenship: Switzerland and Italy Aponte-Diamant and her husband, Gianluigi Aponte, co-founders of MSC, each own a 50% stake in the company they founded in 1970, which has since become the world’s largest shipping company. She is responsible for decorating the ships of the company MSC Cruzeiros. She and her husband entered the industry using a $200,000 loan to buy a ship.more
6. Savitri Jindal and family Net worth: $33.5 billion | Age: 74 | Source of wealth: Jindal Group | Citizenship: India The chairman of the Jindal Group and widow of the founder, Om Prakash Jindal (died 2005), is the richest woman in India. The Jindal Group operates in the steel, energy, cement and infrastructure sectors. After OP Jindal’s death in a helicopter crash, the group’s companies were divided among his four sons, who now run them independently. Jindal was the 12th richest woman in 2023; rising stock prices boosted her fortune. more
5. MacKenzie Scott Net worth: $35.6 billion | Age: 53 | Source of wealth: Amazon | Citizenship: United States The billionaire philanthropist got 4% of Amazon after her divorce from Jeff Bezos in 2019 and promised to give away most of her wealth soon after. In March, Scott awarded $640 million to 361 organizations that applied to a competition for funding. Her giving rose to a total of $17.3 billion.more
4. Jacqueline Mars Net worth: $38.5 billion | Age: 84 | Source of wealth: Mars | Citizenship: United States The Mars Inc. heiress owns the candy and pet food giant along with her brother, John Mars, and the four daughters of her late brother, Forrest Jr. The company owns iconic brands, including M&Ms , Snickers, Ben’s Original and Pedigree. It was founded by her grandfather, Frank C. Mars, who began selling candy out of his kitchen in 1911. Her son, Stephen Badger, sits on the Mars board.more
3. Julia Koch and family Net worth: US$64.3 billion | Age: 61 | Source of wealth: Koch Industries | Citizenship: United States The widow of David Koch (died in 2019) fell from second to third place among the richest women this year. She and her three children inherited a 42% stake in Koch Industries, which has businesses ranging from oil refining and medical technology to paper towels. She is a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.more
2. Alice Walton Net worth: $72.3 billion | Age: 74 | Source of wealth: Walmart | Citizenship: United States The richest woman in the United States is worth $15.6 billion larger this year, due to a 34% jump in Walmart’s share price in the last 12 months. The heiress is the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton (died 1992). Unlike her brothers, she never served on the retailer’s board; instead, she focused on art. She is known for opening the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in her hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, featuring works by Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Mark Rothko.more
1. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers and family Net worth: US$99.5 billion | Age: 70 | Source of wealth: L’Oréal | Citizenship: France The granddaughter of the founder of L’Oréal and heir to the family fortune is the richest woman in the world for the fourth consecutive year. Most of his wealth is tied to his nearly 35% stake in the beauty giant, which has revenues of $45 billion and owns famous brands like Maybelline and Lancôme. Bettencourt Meyers, who inherited the fortune from her mother, Liliane Bettencourt (who died in 2017), first appeared on the Forbes billionaires list in 2018, with a fortune of $42.2 billion.more

The assets are as of March 8, 2024.

*Samantha Kroontje is a contributor to Forbes US. She is a reporter in New York covering billionaires and their companies.

The article is in Portuguese

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