The world of wealth is often dominated by men, with all of the current top 10 richest people in the world being men, just as the 10 richest people in history are and were all men. In fact, only around 13% of the world’s billionaires are women. However, there are powerful women who have amassed fortunes that rival those of their male counterparts. From heiresses to self-made entrepreneurs, the richest women in the world are a diverse group. The following ranking lists the ten richest women in the world by most current net worth numbers.
All private wealth in a woman’s name is counted in the ranking of the richest women in the world, excluding wealth that is primarily owned by spouses or other family members.
Note: Female nation leaders (queens, etc.) are not counted in this ranking of the Top 10 richest women in the world since their wealth and net worth are not measurable in any reliable way.
The 10 Richest Women in the World 2024
1. Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers
Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers is the richest woman in the world. She is the granddaughter of Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal, the largest cosmetic company in the world, and inherited her fortune from her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, who passed away in 2017. Today, Bettencourt-Meyers serves as the vice chairman of L’Oreal and is also a principal shareholder of the company.
Aside from her inherited wealth, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers is also an accomplished author and philanthropist. She has authored several books on topics such as Christianity, Judaism, and Greek mythology. She is furthermore the chairwoman of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, a charity organization that supports various charitable causes in France.
She has been married to her husband, Jean-Pierre Meyers, for over 30 years and has two children with him. Bettencourt-Meyers is a devout Catholic and in 2017 pledged over $200 million to repair the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was damaged by a fire.
2. Julia Koch
Julia Koch comes second among the richest women in the world while being the richest American woman. She is the widow of David Koch, who was one of the co-owners of Koch Industries, one of the largest privately-held companies in American history. She inherited her wealth from her late husband, who passed away in 2019. She is now a co-owner and board member of Koch Industries.
Koch was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up on a farm in nearby Indianola. In the 1980s, she moved to New York City where she worked as a fashion designer until the early 1990s when she met David Koch. Julia Koch is the co-founder and current president of the David H. Koch Foundation, which supports a range of charitable causes across the United States. Julia Koch is also a member of the board of directors of several organizations, including the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Julia Koch married David Koch in 1996 and has three children with him. After his death in 2019, she inherited 42% of Koch Industries.
3. Alice Walton
Alice Walton is the third richest woman in the world. She is the only daughter and one of the four children of Walmart founder Samuel Walton. After he died in 1992, she, alongside her three brothers, inherited his wealth and is now still a principal shareowner of Walmart, which is the largest company in the world, operating the world’s biggest chain of hypermarkets.
Alice Walton holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and has worked in various roles in the financial industry until the late 1990s. She is also a board member of the Walton Family Foundation, a charitable organization that focuses on various charitable causes in her home state of Arkansas, and the founder of the Whole Health Institute, which promotes alternative medicine. She is furthermore the founder of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which is located in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Alice Walton was married twice, first to an investment banker and then to a contractor. She is also known to be an avid collector of art and a lover of horses.
4. Jacqueline Mars
Jacqueline Mars is the fourth richest woman in the world. She is the only daughter and one of three children of Forrest Mars, co-founder of Mars, the largest candy company in the world. Alongside her two brothers, she inherited her father’s wealth after his death in 1999. As the heiress of the Mars candy empire, she held various executive positions within the family company over the years and was a board member of the company until 2016.
Before entering the family business in 1982, Jacqueline Mars earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1961 and also took part in many horse shows as an equestrian. Today, she acts as a trustee of the United States Equestrian Team. She is also a board member of the National Archives Foundation and a main donor to the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group.
Jacqueline Mars was married twice and has three children with her first husband, David Badger. She is known as a passionate lover of horses and owns a large horse farm in The Plains, Virginia.
5. Miriam Adelson
Miriam Adelson comes fifth among the richest women in the world, while also being the richest Israeli woman in the world. She is the widow of Sheldon Adelson, the founder of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the third-largest operator and owner of casino hotels in the world. After Sheldon Adelson’s death in 2021, Miriam Adelson became the majority owner of the company.
Miriam Adelson was born in Tel Aviv, Mandatory Palestine (modern-day Israel) as the daughter of Polish Jewish immigrants. She is a physician and medical researcher, having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Genetics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a medical degree from Tel Aviv University in 1973. In 1986, she immigrated to the United States, where she first worked as an associate physician-scientist at Rockefeller University in New York City, specializing in drug addiction treatment. After meeting and marrying Sheldon Adelson in 1991, Miriam Adelson founded two medical research centers in the United States, focusing on substance abuse. In 2018, she received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her efforts to battle drug addiction.
Before marrying Sheldon Adelson, Miriam Adelson was already married to Ariel Ochshorn, a fellow Israeli physician with whom she has two children. She is a fierce supporter of Israel and also a big supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump.
6. Rafaela Aponte-Diamant
Rafaela Aponte-Diamant is the sixth richest woman on Earth and the richest woman in Switzerland. She is the co-founder and co-owner of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the largest shipping company in the world by container capacity and one of the largest privately held companies in general. Aponte-Diamant co-founded and co-owns the company alongside her Italian husband, Gianluigi Aponte.
Aponte-Diamant was born in Haifa, Mandatory Palestine (modern-day Israel). As a child, she and her parents then immigrated to Switzerland, where her father worked as an executive banker in Geneva. During a ferry trip to the Italian island of Capri in the late 1960s, she met Gianluigi Aponte, who was the captain of the ship. The two fell in love and married. In 1970, both then founded their own shipping company, the Mediterranean Shipping Company, with the financial support of Aponte-Diamant’s father. In 1978, they moved the company to Geneva. Today, MSC is now the largest shipping company in the world and is still entirely privately owned by Rafaela Aponte-Diamant and her husband.
While her husband is the CEO and oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, ownership of the company is equally split between her and her husband. Since she co-founded the company and was involved in the company’s success story from Day One, Rafaela Aponte-Diamant is the richest self-made billionaire woman in the world.
Married for over 50 years, Rafaela Aponte-Diamant and her husband Gianluigi have two children, and their son Diego is also actively involved in the company. Rafaela Aponte-Diamant additionally serves on the board of MSC Foundation, the company’s charitable non-profit organization that focuses on environmental conservation, providing education for children in poor countries, and relief for regions of the world impacted by natural disasters.
7. Susanne Klatten
Susanne Klatten comes seventh among the richest women in the world while being the richest German woman. She is the daughter of Herbert Quandt, the former CEO and principal shareholder of the German car company BMW. Quandt saved the company from bankruptcy in the 1960s and subsequently turned BMW into one of the biggest car companies in the world. After his death in 1982, she alongside her mother and brother, inherited Quandt’s stake in the company.
Today, Klatten is still a principal shareholder and board member of BMW, which is now the 7th largest car company in the world. Additionally, Klatten is also the sole owner of the German chemical company Altana, which in 1977 spun off from battery company Varta and was also led by her father until his death. Klatten inherited her father’s share in the company and then managed to take over the company fully in 2010. Klatten is also a principal shareholder and board member of German company SGL Carbon, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of carbon-based industrial products, and a principal shareholder of Avista Oil, a German oil refining company.
Before getting actively involved in her companies, Klatten first studied and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics from the University of Buckingham in England and a Master of Business Administration from the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland. Afterward, she completed an internship at BMW’s car factory in Regensburg, Germany. In 1991, she joined the board of Altana. In 1997, she then additionally became a board member of BMW and has held her seat ever since.
Susanne Klatten met her husband, Jan Klatten, during her internship at BMW and they married in 1990. They have three children but divorced in 2018. Aside from her many business activities, Klatten focuses on helping young entrepreneurs and start-up companies in Germany and is also a supporter and major donor to the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Germany.
8. Gina Rinehart
Gina Rinehart is the eighth richest woman in the world and the richest woman in Australia. She is the daughter and heiress of Lang Hancock, the founder of Hancock Prospecting, a major mining company in Australia. Hancock was a pioneer in the Australian mining industry and discovered one of the largest iron ore deposits in the world in Western Australia in the 1950s, which became the basis for his wealth and his company’s success. Gina Rinehart inherited the company from her father after he died in 1992.
Before entering the family business, Rinehart briefly studied Economics at the University of Sydney but dropped out before graduating. She then worked under her father until his death and subsequently took charge of the company herself and has been the company’s chief executive ever since. Under Gina Rinehart’s leadership, Hancock Prospecting has expanded its operations to include coal and oil exploration, making it one of the largest privately held mining companies in the world. Rinehart has also invested in several media companies and agricultural ventures.
Gina Rinehart was married twice. Her first husband was Greg Hayward, an English immigrant. They married in 1973 and had two children, but divorced in 1981. In 1983, she then married Australian corporate lawyer Frank Rinehart, whose name she adopted. They also had two children and remained married until his death from a sudden heart attack in 1990. Aside from her ownership and executive position at Hancock Prospecting, Rinehart is also heavily involved in politics and tends to support right-wing parties and policies. Much like her father, Gina Rinehart is also a supporter of the Westralian Secession Movement, which seeks to secede Western Australia from Australia and make it its own independent country.
9. MacKenzie Scott
MacKenzie Scott is the ninth richest woman on the planet. Scott is the former wife of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, the third-richest man in the world. After she divorced her husband in 2019, she received 25% of their shared Amazon stocks through the divorce settlement. Her shares in Amazon.com, the largest e-commerce company and online store in the world as well as the second-largest company overall, turned her into a billionaire and made her one of the richest women in the world practically overnight.
Scott was born in San Francisco, California, but mostly grew up in Lakeville, Connecticut. After high school, she graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor’s degree in English in 1992. She then started working in the administrative department of D. E. Shaw & Co., an American investment management company based in New York City. There, she met Jeff Bezos, who was vice president of the company. The couple quickly married in 1993. After Bezos left his position at the investment firm to found Amazon in 1994, Scott also quit her job and they both relocated to Seattle, Washington to focus on Amazon. Scott was one of her ex-husband’s first employees and oversaw the first freight contract negotiations for the company.
Since her divorce, which was the most expensive divorce in human history, MacKenzie Scott has mainly focused on philanthropy and donated around 14 billion dollars to numerous charitable organizations and causes, making her one of the most charitable private persons in the world.
MacKenzie Scott has four children with Jeff Bezos. After their divorce in 2019, Scott married Dan Jewett, a high school teacher from Seattle in 2021. However, the marriage only lasted a bit over a year and the couple divorced in early 2023. Aside from her involvement with Amazon, Scott is also a part-time novelist, having written two novels, which came out in 2005 and 2013, respectively.
10. Iris Fontbona
Iris Fontbona completes the list of the ten richest women in the world. Fontbona is not only the richest Chilean woman, but the richest person in Chile overall and also belongs to the ten richest people in South America. She is the widow of Andronico Luksic, the founder of the Luksic Group, a large Chilean conglomerate, and the majority owner of British company Antofagasta, one of the largest mining companies in the world. Fontbona inherited her husband’s fortune after his death in 2005 and has since then been actively co-managing the family’s businesses, alongside her sons.
Fontbona was born and raised in Chile’s capital Santiago. When she was 17, she met Andronico Luksic, who was 16 years older than her and already an established businessman. The two married three years later. Luksic’s company established itself as one of the largest conglomerates in Chile over the years. Through it, Luksic managed to acquire Antofagasta and turn it into one of the largest producers of copper in the world and make it one of the world’s largest mining companies overall. Additionally, Luksic also founded Quiñenco, a conglomerate for non-mining related businesses.
Since her husband’s death, Iris Fontbona has owned both Quiñenco and Antafagosta and managed both companies alongside her sons. Through Quiñenco, Fontbona now co-owns ENEX, a Chilean oil refining and gas station service company, CCU, Chile’s largest manufacturer of beverages, Nexans, a major French cable manufacturing company that is the second largest manufacturer of cables in the world, CSAV, Chile’s biggest shipping company and Banco de Chile, Chile’s third-largest bank.
Iris Fontbona was married to Andronico Luksic for almost 50 years and had three sons with him. Two of her sons are actively involved in the family businesses, while the other son died in 2013 of lung cancer. Aside from her business activities, Fontbona is also known for her philanthropy. As a devout Catholic, she is particularly focused on helping children with disabilities and has donated significant amounts of her fortune to this cause over the years.
The 10 Richest Women in the World:
|Net worth: $80.5 billion
|Net worth: $59.0 billion
|Net worth: $56.7 billion
|Net worth: $38.3 billion
|Net worth: $37.7 billion
|Net worth: $31.2 billion
|Net worth: $27.4 billion
|Net worth: $27.0 billion
|Net worth: $24.4 billion
|Net worth: $23.1 billion
The ten richest women in the world by private net worth. Female nation leaders (e.g. queens) are disregarded in the ranking. All net worth numbers converted to U.S. Dollars. Source for ranking: Forbes.