Skip to content

World’s 12 richest women, how they did it

Forbes has been tracking billionaires globally for 31 years. The number of billionaires in 2017 jumped 13% to 2,043 from 1,810 last year, which was the first time ever that Forbes has pinned down more than 2,000 10-figure-fortunes. Their total net worth rose by 18% to $7.67 trillion, also a record. The change in the number of billionaires — up 233 since the 2016 list — was the biggest in the 31 years that Forbes has been tracking billionaires globally.

Below, see a list of the 12 richest women in the world and discover how they got so wealthy.

1. Liliane Bettencourt (#14 on Forbes)
Liliane Bettencourt, 94, is the world’s richest woman. She owns 33% of makeup giant L’Oréal founded by her father, Eugene Schueller. She is worth $39.5B.
2. Alice Walton (#17 on Forbes)
Alice Walton, 67, is the heiress of Walmart. She is worth $33.8B.
3. Jacqueline Mars (#26 on Forbes)
Jacqueline Mars, 77, owns a third of the world’s largest candy maker, Mars Inc. She is worth $27B.
4. Maria Franca Fissolo (#29 on Forbes)
Maria Franca Fissolo, 82, is the widow of Michele Ferrero, founder of the chocolate manufacturing company, Ferrero Spa. She is worth $25.2B.
5. Susanne Klatten (#38 on Forbes)
Susanne Klatten, 54, is Germany’s richest woman, having inherited BMW from her parents. She and her brother own almost 50% of BMW. She is worth $20.4B.
6. Laurene Powell Jobs (#40 on Forbes)
Laurene Powell Jobs, 53, is the widow of Steve Jobs. She is the second largest shareholder in The Walt Disney Company and has and 38.5 million shares of Apple, Inc. She is worth $20B.
7. Gina Rinehart (#69 on Forbes)
Gina Rinehart, 63, is Australia’s richest citizen. Her late father Lang Hancock was an iron-ore magnate. She is worth $15B.
8. Abigail Johnson (#75 on Forbes)
Abigail Johnson, 55, is CEO of Fidelity Investments founded by her grandfather Edward Johnson, and owns an estimated 24% stake of the firm, which has $2.1 trillion in managed assets. She is worth $14.4B.
9. Iris Fontbona (#84 on Forbes)
Iris Fontbona, 74, is the widow of Andrónico Luksic, who built a fortune in mining and beverages. She owns Antofagasta Plc, which owns copper mines in Chile. She is worth $13.7B.
10. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken (#95 on Forbes)
Charlene De Carvalho-Heineken, 62, is an executive director at Heineken and 23% controlling stake which she inherited from her late father, longtime CEO Freddy Heineken. She’s worth $12.6B.
11. Blair Parry-Okeden (#105 on Forbes)
Blair Parry-Okeden, 66, is the granddaughter of James M. Cox, who founded the Cox Enterprises automotive and media empire. She’s worth $12.2B.
12. Massimiliana Landini Aleotti (#133 on Forbes)
Massimiliana Landini Aleotti, 74, and her three children inherited one of Italy’s leading pharmaceutical companies, Menarini, from her late husband, Alberto Aleotti, who passed away in May 2014 at age 91. She’s worth $9.5B.