With the global economy in turmoil in early 2016, women struggled to maintain their share of the Forbes list of the World’s Billionaires. The total number of female billionaires fell to 190 from 197 last year, and women make up 10% of the world’s 1,810 ten-figure fortunes.
Over the past year, 6 women billionaires died and the fortunes of 31 fell below $1 billion. But 27 women joined the ranks of the billionaires for the first time and another 3 returned to billionaire status after falling off in previous years.
Liliane Bettencourt of France is back in the seat of richest woman in the world, and is also the 11th richest person on the Forbes list. Her fortune slipped $4 billion in the past year as shares of L’Oreal fell. But the heiress was not just a victim of the markets. According to a French court, eight people, including several former wealth managers and celebrity photographer François-Marie Banier, were found guilty in May 2015 of conning the 93-year-old Parisian out of millions of euros. Banier was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay Bettencourt $172 million in damages. The court will hear his appeal in May 2016. Bettencourt and her family are worth $36.1 billion.
Alice Walton is the second richest woman in the world with $32.3 billion to her name. Her net worth is down $7.1 billion from last year due to a drop in the price of Wal-Mart stock. Walton, unlike her brothers Rob and Jim, is not actively involved in running the mega superstore chain her father Sam Walton founded in 1962. But she still shares in the wealth reaped by Wal-Mart. Instead, Alice focuses on collecting art and making political donations, including $25,000 to a super-PAC supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Jacqueline Mars, the third richest woman in the world, is worth $23.4 billion, down $3.2 billion this year. Mars and her brothers inherited pet food and candy maker Mars in 1999 after their father’s death. None of them play an active role in the company, which has $33 billion in annual revenue.
Another candy heiress, Maria Franca Fissolo of Italy, snags the title of fourth richest woman with a net worth of $22.1 billion. She is the widow of Michele Ferrero, who built Ferrero Group and died on Valentine’s Day 2015. The private company is owned by Fissolo and her son Giovanni, the CEO; its products include the popular Nutella spread, Kinder chocolates and Tic-Tac mints.
Susanne Klatten of Germany, the world’s fifth richest woman, secretly received additional shares of BMW from her mother over the years but the transfers only came to light when her mother, Johanna Quandt, last year’s ninth richest woman, died in August 2015. Klatten, worth $18.5 billion, and her brother Stefan Quandt (also a billionaire) together own almost half of BMW. Klatten is credited with steering German pharmaceutical and chemical company Altana AG toward $2 billion in annual sales.
Christy Walton, last year’s richest woman and daughter-in-law of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, slid out of the top ten this year after previously sealed information became available detailing how her late-husband John’s estate was divided between Christy Walton and their 29-year-old son Lukas. As a result Forbes lowered Christy’s net worth to $5.2 billion and inducted another young Walton to the billionaires club. Lukas Waltonjoins the list with a net worth of $10.4 billion.
Net worths for the 2016 Billionaires List were calculated using stock prices and exchange rates from February 12, 2016. Some net worths have already changed since that date.
Source – forbes