Meet the World’s Wealthiest Women: Forbes Billionaires List 2024

Forbes has released its 2024 World Billionaires list, showcasing the growing representation of women among the global elite. This year, 369 out of 2,781 billionaires are women, accounting for 13.3% of the list and marking an increase from 12.8% in 2023. Collectively, these women boast a net worth of nearly $1.8 trillion, a growth of approximately $240 billion compared to the previous year.

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers: L'Oréal Heiress Reigns Supreme

Leading the pack for the fourth consecutive year is Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, heiress to the L’Oréal fortune. Meyers experienced a significant increase in her wealth over the past 12 months, with her net worth climbing to an astonishing $99.5 billion, the largest gain among women on the 2024 list. However, she falls just short of joining the prestigious $100 billion club.

Bettencourt Meyers, who inherited her riches from her late mother, Liliane Bettencourt, made her debut on Forbes’ billionaires list in 2018 with a net worth of $42.2 billion. The bulk of her wealth stems from her substantial ownership of approximately 35% in the esteemed cosmetics conglomerate, L’Oréal Group. With a revenue exceeding $45 billion and boasting renowned brands like Maybelline, Kiehl’s, and Lancôme, the company remains a powerhouse in the beauty industry.

The reclusive billionaire is also a champion of philanthropic causes, largely through her family’s foundation. The Bettencourt Meyers family and L’Oreal even donated $226 million to repair Notre Dame Cathedral following the April 2019 fire.

Inheriting Billions: Walton, Koch, and Mars

In second place is Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, with a net worth of $72.3 billion. Walton experienced a significant surge in wealth this year, with her net worth increasing by $15.6 billion due to a remarkable 34% rise in Walmart’s stock price over the past 12 months. Instead of taking a seat on the retailer’s board like her brothers, she devoted her energies to the realm of art, gaining renown for her establishment of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Julia Koch, widow of David Koch, takes the third spot with $64.3 billion. Alongside her three children, she inherited a substantial 42% stake in Koch Industries, a diversified conglomerate encompassing various sectors such as oil refining, medical technology, and household products like paper towels.

Jacqueline Mars, heiress of Mars Inc., holds the fourth position with a net worth of $38.5 billion. Along with her brother John Mars and her late brother Forrest Jr.’s four daughters, she owns the renowned candy and pet food conglomerate, which boasts a portfolio of iconic brands such as M&Ms, Snickers, Ben’s Original, and Pedigree dog food.

MacKenzie Scott: Philanthropic Endeavors and Growing Fortune

The exception to the inheritance trend is MacKenzie Scott, who acquired her wealth through divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Despite her philanthropic endeavors, including donating more than $17.3 billion to various causes, Scott’s net worth increased significantly, reaching $35.6 billion and securing her the fifth position on the list.

Scott recently allocated $640 million to 361 organizations through a competitive funding program in March. Her philanthropic contributions have now reached a staggering total of $17.3 billion, characterized by numerous smaller, unrestricted donations that frequently catch recipients by surprise.

Scott’s approach to philanthropy has been praised for its unconventional nature, as she focuses on supporting smaller, often overlooked organizations that work directly with communities in need. Her donations have targeted a wide range of causes, including racial equity, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate change mitigation.

Self-Made Success and Notable Newcomers

Rafaela Aponte-Diamant, co-founder of a prominent shipping company, stands out as the wealthiest self-made woman on the list. Among the 369 women, 100 are self-made, while 200 have inherited their fortunes, and 69 are actively expanding the successful businesses they inherited.

Aponte-Diamant and her husband Gianluigi Aponte, who together founded MSC in 1970, each hold a 50% stake in the company. MSC has grown to become the largest shipping line globally. Notably, she oversees the interior decoration of the ships operated by MSC Cruises, a subsidiary of the company. Their journey in the industry began with a $200,000 loan used to purchase their first ship.

A notable addition to the list is pop star Taylor Swift, whose Eras Tour contributed to her billionaire status, making her the first billionaire musician to achieve this solely through her musical endeavors. Swift’s success in the music industry, propelled by performances, recordings, and a lucrative music catalogue, marks a significant milestone.