Robert Kiyosaki once said “It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” True to Kiyosaki’s wisdom, the bulk of women making the list of world’s richest come from generational wealth. They continue to distinguish themselves by their ability to protect and maintain the empires laid before them. Though marked by lives of affluence and privilege, it has been in the face of both substantial threat and scandal that these powerful women have held onto their places in the world.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers – $48.7 billion
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, French heiress to the L’Oreal fortune, is the richest woman in the world. The inheritance that marked Bettencourt as the world’s wealthiest was under threat shortly before it came into her possession as novelist and playwright Francois-Marie Banier attempted to siphon funds from the ailing Liliane Bettencourt shortly before her passing. Banier, at one point, was encouraging Liliane to adopt him, thus serving to establish himself in the line of inheritance. Francoise Bettencourt was able to establish her mother’s mental incompetence in court to save her assets, though the tapes she presented as evidence later served to ignite the Woerth-Bettencourt scandal, in which the family was implicated in charges of tax evasion and illegal payment of high-ranking French authorities, including French president Nicolas Sarkozy himself.
Alice Walton – $42.5 billion
Daughter of Walmart founders Sam and Helen Walton, Alice is the world’s second-richest woman by only a small margin. Her professional career began as an equity analyst and money manager before she went on to found the investment bank the Llama Company. In 2016, her shares of Walmart stock were valued at $11B. In her personal life, Walton is known as a passionate equestrian and moved to a ranch in Texas after closing Llama Company. Though a notable entrepreneur, Walton is a less than stellar motorist. In 1983 and once again in 1989, Alice was involved in two serious car accidents, one in which she suffered severe trauma to her leg, and another that cost the life of 50-year-old pedestrian Oleta Hardin. No charges were filed.
Susanne Klatten – $25 billion
At third place, Susanne Klatten, the German daughter of Herbert and Johanna Quandt, counts her holdings among the world’s richest. Her father’s wealth was distributed in several prominent German industries, most notably in chemical and pharmaceutical Manufacturer Altana and a 12.5 percent holding in BMW. The Quandt family name came under fire in the German press after a documentary was released documenting the use of slave labor in Quandt factories during World War II. The Quandt family opened its archives to investigation of Nazi crimes and later issued public apologies and expressions of remorse through German automaker BMW. Susanne was also the target of extortion by Swiss playboy Helg Sgarbi, who was sentenced to six years in prison.
Jacqueline Mars – $23.2 billion
The only thing sweeter than all the world’s chocolate is loads and loads of money. Though Jacqueline Mars can’t claim to hold quite all of the chocolate, her namesake—Mars, Incorporated—is known across American households for its sweet treats. Jacqueline served as Food Product Group President at Mars, Inc. from 1982 to 2001 before retiring. Mother to three children, the Mars heiress sits on the board of directors for a number of national counsels for the fine arts and conservation efforts. As of June 2018, Jacqueline ranks as the 38th richest person in the world.