The Richest Woman in the World and 4 Wealthy Runners-up

By: Mitch Ryan  | 
Hundred dollar bills fanned out
These women are so wealthy that one of them is striving to donate half of her fortune over the course of the rest of her life. Alan Schein / Getty Images

Although she is far from the richest person in the world — a title currently held by LMVH CEO Bernault Arnault — Françoise Bettencourt Meyers is still doing fine for herself.

The richest woman in the world has an estimated net worth of almost $100 billion dollars and has bene on the Forbes World's Billionaires List for three years now, but the origins of her wealth are surprising.


1. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers: $95.4 Billion

2024 marks the third consecutive year that Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, heiress to the L’Oréal fortune, has landed in the top spot among female billionaires. Meyers inherited these riches from her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, who passed away in 2017 after years of drama.

Much of the scandal of this wealth transfer revolved around Liliane's relationship with a French photographer named François-Marie Banier. The two met during a photoshoot for Egoiste magazine in 1987. The two became close friends, and Bettencourt became Banier's primary benefactor.


In the following years, Liliane Bettencourt presented Banier with lavish gifts, including famous paintings, multimillion-dollar life insurance policies, and large sums of cash — all estimated at a value nearing $1.3 billion. This relationship fell under scrutiny as Bettencourt's physical and mental condition wavered.

Françoise accused Banier of manipulating her mother and filed a criminal complaint. In 2015, Banier was convicted of "abuse of weakness," and Meyers was awarded custody over her mother and the L’Oréal fortune.

Although Françoise Bettencourt Meyers is currently the queen of cash, here is a short list of other women on the Forbes World's Billionaires list who are close on her heels.


2. Alice Walton: $72.3 Billion

Alice Walton, the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, is the richest woman in America. She has an estimated net worth of over $70 billion, inherited from her father after passing in 1992. Alice was considered by many sources to be the world's wealthiest woman between 2015 and 2022.

Although Walmart's 34 percent rise in share price in post-COVID markets considerably boosted Walton's fortune, she has little to do with the company. Instead, Walton is a purveyor of American art and founder of Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.


3. Julia Koch: $65.2 Billion

Julia Koch inherited the family fortune following the passing of her husband, David Koch, in 2019. Although Koch Industries is a massive privately held company that has been criticized for its political reach, Julia Koch spends much of her time and inheritance on philanthropic ventures.


4. Jacqueline Mars: $47 Billion

Jacqueline Mars is ranked as the fourth-wealthiest woman and 23rd-richest person in the world, thanks to her grandfather's founding of Mars Incorporated, a company built on the universal love of chocolate and sweets.

With brands producing such familiar favorites as Snickers, Twix, M&Ms and Milky Way, it's safe to say Halloween wouldn't be the same holiday without the Mars family's contribution to the snack aisle.


5. MacKenzie Scott: $40.6 Billion

MacKenzie Scott joined Forbes' list of the richest women in the world after parting ways with her former husband, Jeff Bezos, the founder of the e-commerce behemoth Amazon.

Following the divorce, Scott has become a Robin Hood-type figure in her philanthropic pursuits and support of the Giving Pledge to donate half of her fortune to charity during her lifetime — a sentiment not fully shared by her anti-union ex-husband, who has since left his Amazon empire to pursue space travel.