The Wealthiest Women in the World

The 2013 Forbes list of billionaires consists of 1,426 people, only 138 of whom are women. In 2012 there were only 104 women on the list, but still only one woman landed in the top ten.

Liliane Bettencourt

Liliane Bettencourt is the wealthiest woman in the world, ninth richest person and the richest person in all of France. She is the daughter of the founder of L’oreal cosmetics. Thanks to an increase in L’oreal’s stock, the 90 year old widow reentered the top ten billionaires for the first time since 1999. After her dementia worsened, Bettencourt’s $30 billion fortune was placed under guardianship of her daughter in 2011.

Christy Walton

Christy Walton missed the world’s top ten by one place and less than a billion dollars. She is the sixth richest person in the United States and the richest woman in the United States with a worth of $28.2 billion. Walton became the widow of John Walton, the son of the founder of Wal-Mart, after he died in a plane crash in 2005. Before his death, he made a side investment in First Solar (FSLR); this gave Christy Walton a slight boost over the other Waltons with stock in the company. 

Alice Walton

Another Wal-Mart heiress, Alice Walton is daughter of founder Sam Walton. She is the third richest woman in the world and tenth richest person in the United States. Forbes ranked her the sixteenth richest person in the world. She is notably the most philanthropic of the Waltons, and she currently runs a horse ranch in Texas. She made over $440 million after taxes from Wal-Mart dividends alone and her net worth is $26.3 billion.

Iris Fontbona

The fourth richest woman in the world is the thirty-fifth richest person and the richest person in Chile. Iris Fontbona is worth about $17.4 billion. She and her three sons were left in charge of her husband’s business when he died in 2005. Her husband, Andronico Luksic, controlled Antrofagasta, which is one of the world’s largest copper mines. Fontbona also owns the majority of a packaging and beverage company as well as several beach resorts. 

Georgina Rinehart

The wealthiest person in Australia is the fifth richest woman in the world. Georgina Rinehard, with her net worth of $17 billion, is the thirty-sixth richest person in the world. Her value dropped a billion when iron prices plummeted and she lost a legal battle with Stanley Perron, also losing some of her stock in Hamersley Mining. She is currently involved in another lawsuit that may cause her to lose stock with Hancock Prospecting. She inherited Rio Tinto from her father, Lang Hancock, after his death. Both Hamersley mining and Hancock Prospecting are subsidiaries of Rio Tinto. She cut three of her four children out of the family trust recently; she claimed they were not fit to manage their fortune.