These Are the World’s Richest Families - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 01, 2020

For once the seats were empty in the Bud Walton Arena, home to basketball’s Arkansas Razorbacks and, each summer, host to fathomless wealth.

Covid-19 had come to Walmart Inc. country, canceling the retailer’s “Associate Celebration.” Gone were the thousands of employees, the cameos by Katy Perry or Tom Cruise and the traditional appearance by the heirs of Sam Walton, the world’s richest family.

But even a pandemic hasn’t stopped the relentless growth of their fortune. The Waltons are richer than ever, adding $25 billion in the past year to take their combined fortune to an estimated $215 billion. Years of investment in Walmart’s supply chain and e-commerce capabilities saw a surge in first-quarter sales despite widespread carnage in the U.S. retail sector.

Thomson family
 A photograph of Walmart founder Sam Walton speaking to employees. Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images

With that much money, you could pile $1 million onto each of the 19,368 seats in the Walton arena and still have enough left to give Walmart’s 2.2 million associates about $90,000 each. The family’s unprecedented fortune is almost $100 billion more than the Mars candy clan in second place.

Kiki McLean, a spokeswoman for the Waltons, declined to comment.

The Ozark clan aren't the only ones to have prospered this year even as the overall net worth of the planet's richest 25 dynasties held steady at $1.4 trillion. 

India’s Mukesh Ambani has pulled in more than $20 billion of investment for his digital platforms since April, boosting Asia’s biggest fortune by 61% in the past year even as brother Anil struggled. Switzerland’s Oeri-Hoffmann dynasty added 24% to its net worth with Roche Holding AG shares boosted by sales of Covid-19 tests. Fidelity’s Johnson family rose $9 billion this year to $46 billion.

Ambani family wedding
 Indian industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani (center) with guests at the wedding of his son Mukesh Ambani, 1985.  Photo by Dinodia Photos/Getty Images

The concentration of gains mirrors Bloomberg’s ranking of individual billionaires, where Jeff Bezos is similarly pulling away from the rest. Bezos, who would rank second if featured, doesn’t qualify for the family list as his wealth is first generation (see methodology).

These outsized fortunes have sharpened calls for wealth taxes at a time when a pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted runaway inequality. Politicians on the left including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have delivered blistering attacks on widening inequality and the growing wealth of billionaires. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, hasn’t embraced a wealth tax, but he’s campaigning on higher rates on the rich and corporations, as well as the closing of estate-tax loopholes.

Even this year’s fallers, including the Kochs who were hit by the oil price crash, and the Kwoks, whose property empire is reeling from the Hong Kong protests, will endure.

“One of the powerful things about intergenerational wealth is they have very long-term time horizons,” said Karen Harding, who heads up the private-wealth group at Boston-based NEPC, which advises ultra-high-net-worth families. “Most family offices are in a position to accept markets go up and markets go down.”

That’s partly testament to long-standing advantages vast wealth affords. Bolstered by years of strategic diversification and family offices that can rival investment banks in their scope and sophistication, the 0.001% can weather economic and social turmoil.

“Of course there was concern when the market sold off,” Harding said. “But quite frankly a lot of families viewed it as an opportunity.”

Koch family
 Fred Koch (center) talking to a visiting dignitary. A. Y. Owen/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

For one, it made some investments far cheaper. Valuations had become so high that putting capital to work was often prohibitively expensive. Some families were able to act before the markets rebounded. The Kochs may have shed $15 billion this year, but still made a $200 million bet on rental homes in May.

The selloff also created opportunities for succession planning by enabling assets to be transferred to the next generation at depressed valuations.

These considerations are impossibly distant for most in a year when U.S. unemployment is spiking and the federal government resorted to mailing its citizens checks. But the Waltons’ record pile is a telling illustration of the long-lasting impact of that kind of forward planning.

In 1953, almost a decade before he opened the first Walmart, Sam Walton put his assets into a partnership and gave a 20% stake to each of his four children, leaving the remainder for himself and his wife.

“The best way to reduce paying estate taxes is to give your assets away before they appreciate,” he explained in his autobiography. 


NAMEWalton COMPANYWalmart WEALTH$215bn INDUSTRYConsumer retail LOCATIONBentonville, Arkansas GENERATIONS3

Walmart is the world's largest retailer by revenue, with sales of $524 billion from more than 11,000 stores worldwide. The Walton family owns about half the retailer, a stake that’s the foundation of the world's biggest fortune. Did you know? Walton fortune grew by $3 million per hour over the past year on average. Timeline 1945: Sam Walton buys his first store. 1992: Sam Walton dies. Eldest son Rob becomes chairman. 2016: Steuart Walton replaces his father Jim on the board of Walmart.


NAMEMars COMPANYMars WEALTH$120bn INDUSTRYConfectionery, pet care LOCATIONMcLean, Virginia GENERATIONS5

Frank Mars learned to hand-dip chocolates as a schoolboy. The business he went on to establish is best known for M&Ms and Milky Way and Mars bars, though pet-care products make up about half of the company's more than $38 billion in revenue. The closely held business is owned by members of the Mars family. Did you know? The company's Uncle Ben's products are to be rebranded in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. Timeline 1883: Frank Mars is born. He contracts polio as a young boy and is unable to walk to school. 1932: Forrest E. Mars Sr. moves to the U.K. 1963: Mars opens a chocolate factory in the Netherlands. 1999: Forrest E. Mars Jr. retires from active management. 2017: Mars completes acquisition of pet health-care company VCA.


NAMEKoch COMPANYKoch Industries WEALTH$109.7bn INDUSTRYIndustrial LOCATIONWichita, Kansas GENERATIONS3

Brothers Frederick, Charles, David and William inherited father Fred’s oil firm. A fraternal feud over control of the company in the early 1980s led Frederick and William to leave the family business while Charles and David stayed. It has since grown into Koch Industries, a conglomerate with annual revenue of about $115 billion. The family manage a portion of their wealth through family office 1888 Management. Did you know? Family's political network is planning to engage in nearly 200 federal and state races in 2020. Timeline 1940: Fred Koch co-founds the Wood River Oil & Refining Co. 1961: Charles Koch joins his father Fred at the company. 2019: David Koch dies.



The 88-year-old monarchy after which Saudi Arabia is named can credit the nation's unrivaled oil reserves for seeding its collective fortune. This net worth estimate is based on cumulative payouts royal family members are calculated to have received over the past 50 years from the Royal Diwan, the executive office of the king. The total wealth controlled by its estimated 15,000 extended members is likely much higher. Many royals have made money through brokering government contracts and land deals and by founding businesses that service state companies, such as Saudi Aramco. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of Saudi's seventh monarch, King Salman, personally controls assets worth more than $1 billion. Did you know? Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly keeps the world’s most expensive artwork, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, aboard his superyacht. Timeline 1902: Ibn Saud, founder of modern Saudi Arabia, reclaims his ancestral home of Riyadh, kicking off three decades of territorial conquests. 2019: Aramco issues a prospectus, revealing it to be the world's most profitable company.


NAMEAmbani COMPANYReliance Industries WEALTH$81.3bn INDUSTRYIndustrial LOCATIONMumbai GENERATIONS3

Dhirubhai Ambani, the father of Mukesh and Anil, started building the precursor to Reliance Industries in 1957. When Dhirubhai died in 2002 without leaving a will, his widow brokered a settlement between her sons over control of the family fortune. Mukesh is now at the helm of the Mumbai-based conglomerate, which owns the world's largest oil refining complex. He lives in a 27-story mansion that’s been called the world’s most expensive private residence. Did you know? Beyonce and Coldplay's Chris Martin were among the performers at Ambani weddings. Timeline 1957: Dhirubhai Ambani returns to India from Yemen. 2002: Elder son Mukesh takes over chairmanship. 2014: Siblings Isha and Akash join the boards of retail and mobile units.



Jean-Louis Dumas, who died in 2010, is credited with turning Hermes into a global giant in luxury fashion. Among the family members who maintain senior positions at the company are Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the artistic director, and Axel Dumas, the company chairman. Did you know? A Hermes store in China recorded more than $2.5 million in sales on the day it reopened after being shuttered during a coronavirus outbreak. Timeline 1837: Thierry Hermes starts to make riding gear for noblemen. 1880: Business moves to 24 Faubourg Saint-Honore, Paris. 1902: Grandsons Emile Maurice Hermes and Adolphe Hermes become joint presidents of the company. 1950s: Emile's sons-in-law, Robert Dumas and Jean-Rene Guerrand, diversify operations. 1978: Jean-Louis Dumas establishes global network of stores. 2013: Axel Dumas becomes co-CEO.



Brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer are reaping the benefits of their grandfather's funding of designer Coco Chanel in 1920s Paris. Their family own the closely held fashion house, which introduced the "little black dress" to the world and had revenue of $12 billion in 2019. The Wertheimers also own racehorses and vineyards. Did you know? The Wertheimers' family office invested in a company that seeks to produce edible protein using a microbe discovered in Yellowstone's geothermal springs. Timeline 1924: Pierre Wertheimer negotiates a perfume contract with fashionista Coco Chanel. 1965: Jacques Wertheimer, known as "the kid" to Coco Chanel, takes over after his father's death. 2018: Chanel releases its financial results for the first time.


NAMEJohnson (Fidelity) COMPANYFidelity Investments WEALTH$46.3bn INDUSTRYFinancial LOCATIONBoston GENERATIONS3

The Boston mutual-fund empire was founded by Edward C. Johnson II in Boston in 1946. It is now run by his granddaughter, Abigail. While the closely held firm has thrived, it’s also been under pressure to slash fees and commissions as investors increasingly abandon actively managed strategies for low-cost index funds and ETFs. Did you know? Family-owned Seaport Hotel in Boston furloughed 400 workers in March and offered free rooms to medical workers. Timeline 1946: Fidelity Management & Research is founded. 1977: Ned Johnson becomes CEO. 2014: Abigail Johnson becomes CEO.


NAMEBoehringer, Von Baumbach COMPANYBoehringer Ingelheim WEALTH$45.7bn INDUSTRYPharmaceuticals LOCATIONIngelheim, Germany GENERATIONS4

The German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim was founded in 1885 by Albert Boehringer; more than 130 years later, the Boehringer family, encompassing the von Baumbachs, is still in charge. Chairman Hubertus von Baumbach and his extended family are owners of the closely held company. Did you know? Boehringer is screening more than a million compounds to identify potential molecules that could fight the virus. Timeline 1885: Albert Boehringer buys a small tartar factory in Germany. 1939: Albert Boehringer dies. 1992: Erich von Baumbach, son-in-law of Albert Boehringer Jr., is appointed chair of shareholders' committee. 2010: Company celebrates its 125th anniversary.


NAMEAlbrecht COMPANYAldi WEALTH$41bn INDUSTRYConsumer retail LOCATIONRhineland, Germany GENERATIONS3

Brothers Theo and Karl Albrecht took over their parents’ grocery store after returning home from World War II and turned it into Aldi, a national chain of discount supermarkets. The brothers divided the business in the 1960s. The two branches – Aldi Nord and Aldi Sued – now have more than 10,000 stores combined. Theo’s side of the family also owns Trader Joe’s, which it bought in 1979. Did you know? Co-founder Theo Albrecht Sr. was once kidnapped and hidden in a wardrobe for 17 days. Timeline 1913: Albrecht grocery store is opened in Essen, Germany. 1971: Theo Albrecht is kidnapped and $2 million is paid for his release. 2014: Karl Albrecht dies.



The wealth of Canada’s richest family originated in the early 1930s when Roy Thomson opened an Ontario radio station. He branched out into newspapers and became the country’s leading owner. The family holds a 66% stake in financial data and services provider Thomson Reuters through investment firm Woodbridge. Did you know? Thomson Reuters expects the sale of its Refinitiv data arm to close by the end of 2020. Timeline 1934: Roy Thomson buys his first newspaper, the Timmins Press. 2006: Ken Thomson dies. 2018: Thomson Reuters sells a majority stake in its financial and risk unit to Blackstone.


NAMEHoffmann, Oeri COMPANYRoche WEALTH$38.8bn INDUSTRYPharmaceuticals LOCATIONBasel, Switzerland GENERATIONS5

Drug maker Roche Holding was founded by entrepreneur Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche in 1896. His descendants now control a 9% stake in the company, whose blockbuster oncology drugs helped the group generate $62 billion in 2019 revenue. Family members have been prominent supporters of nature conservation. Did you know? Heiress Beatrice Oeri manages a jazz club in Basel. Timeline 1896: Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche launches a medicine company at 28. 1932: Fritz Hoffmann's son Emanuel dies in a traffic accident. 1961: Lukas Hoffmann co-founds World Wildlife Fund. 1996: Andre Hoffmann joins the board of Roche. 2019: Seven members of the fifth generation join the family's shareholder pool.


NAMEMulliez COMPANYAuchan WEALTH$38.4bn INDUSTRYConsumer retail LOCATIONLille, France GENERATIONS4

The Mulliez family had already built a retail empire by the time Gerard Mulliez started Auchan, known as France’s Walmart, in 1961. Auchan has grown into one of Europe’s biggest supermarket chains. The family holding company, Association Familiale Mulliez, controls a diverse group of retail businesses, including home-improvement chain Leroy Merlin. Did you know? Mulliez heirs now number in the hundreds. Timeline 1931: Gerard Mulliez is born into a family that runs a clothing company. 1961: Mulliez opens the first Auchan store in France. 1998: Auchan expands into Hungary. 2016: 100th hypermarket opens in Russia.


NAMECargill, MacMillan COMPANYCargill WEALTH$38.1bn INDUSTRYIndustrial LOCATIONMinneapolis GENERATIONS6

Members of this family are majority owners of Cargill Inc. that had revenue of $115 billion in the year to May 2020. It was founded by William W. Cargill, who started the commodities business with one grain storage warehouse in Conover, Iowa, in 1865. His descendants maintain control of the food, agriculture and industrial giant. Did you know? Cargill paid $1.1 billion of dividends to stockholders in the year to May 2020. Timeline 1865: William W. Cargill becomes the owner of a grain warehouse. 1884: John H. MacMillan starts working in his father's bank in Wisconsin. 1932: John MacMillan Jr. becomes general manager as his father experiences health issues. 1960: Erwin Kelm becomes the first Cargill president who is not a family member. 1980: Cargill enters the coffee-trading business. 2011: Mosaic Co. and Cargill agree to split off.


NAMEJohnson (SC) COMPANYSC Johnson WEALTH$37.3bn INDUSTRYHousehold goods LOCATIONRacine, Wisconsin GENERATIONS5

Five generations of the Johnson family have built SC Johnson into a household-goods maker. Samuel C. Johnson began selling parquet flooring in 1882, the business that became the foundation for SC Johnson. H. Fisk Johnson is the company’s chairman and chief executive. Its brands include Mr. Muscle, Raid and Windex. Did you know? SC Johnson converted a product testing line at a Wisconsin factory to produce hand sanitizer for health workers and employees. Timeline 1886: Samuel C. Johnson starts touring the countryside, selling flooring. 1906: Herbert F. Johnson Sr. becomes a partner. 1928: Herbert F. Johnson Jr. inherits the company at age 28, after his father's death. 1955: Samuel C. Johnson, great-grandson of the founder, becomes head of the new products division. 1992: SC Johnson buys the Drackett Co.


NAMEVan Damme, De Spoelberch, De Mevius COMPANYAnheuser-Busch InBev WEALTH$36.8bn INDUSTRYBeverages LOCATIONBelgium GENERATIONS5

The collective enterprise of these three Belgian beermaking families has roots in the 14th century. The Van Damme family joined the others when the 1987 merger between Piedboeuf and Artois led to the creation of Interbrew, which merged with Brazil’s AmBev in 2004. Did you know? Net worth has dropped by $16 billion in the past year, the most of any clan on the ranking. Timeline 1895: Edmond Willems, owner of the Artois brewery, dies. 1926: Stella Artois is released as a Christmas beer. 1968: Artois takes over the Dommelsch Brewery. 1987: The Artois and Piedboeuf breweries merge. 2008: Anheuser-Busch and InBev combine.



Herbert Quandt helped turn Bayerische Motoren Werke from a struggling carmaker into one of the world's largest manufacturers of luxury vehicles. Family matriarch Johanna Quandt died in 2015 and her children, Stefan Quandt and Susanne Klatten, own nearly half the company. Did you know? Sales of both BMW-brand cars and other group marques like the Mini and Rolls Royce fell by about a fifth in the first quarter. Timeline 1883: Emil Quandt acquires a textile company owned by his late father-in-law. 1933: Guenther Quandt joins the Nazi Party. 1954: Herbert Quandt inherits the business and later increases its holding in BMW to 50%. 2015: Johanna Quandt, Herbert's widow, dies.


NAMECox COMPANYCox Enterprises WEALTH$33.1bn INDUSTRYCommunications, automotive LOCATIONAtlanta GENERATIONS4

The Cox family controls Cox Enterprises, a conglomerate with about $21 billion in revenue. Its Cox Communications division is the third-largest cable company in the U.S. James M. Cox founded the company in 1898. His descendants, including James C. Kennedy and Blair Parry-Okeden, remain shareholders. Did you know? Brands of Cox Enterprises include Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. Timeline 1898: James M. Cox buys a newspaper. 1957: Jim Cox Jr. takes over the company after his father's death. 1988: Jim Kennedy, grandson of founder James Cox, is promoted to CEO and chairman. 2018: Alex Taylor takes charge of Cox Enterprises.



The family’s wealth originated with the drink cartons pioneered by Ruben Rausing in Sweden in the 1950s. Descendants of Ruben’s son, Gad, control closely held Tetra Laval, one of the world’s biggest packaging companies. Another son of Ruben's, Hans, sold his stake in the business to Gad in 1995 and later invested in eco-friendly packaging and equities through London-based Alta Advisers. Did you know? Hans Rausing raised one of Europe's largest herds of deer at his English estate. Timeline 1929: Ruben Rausing becomes a partner in a packaging company. 1995: Hans Rausing sells his shares to brother Gad. 2017: Kirsten Rausing is elected chair of the International Thoroughbred Breeders’ Federation.



S.I. Newhouse founded Advance in 1922. He built up a portfolio of newspapers, magazines, cable television and radio stations that sons Samuel and Donald eventually ran. In recent years the group has sought to diversify, and purchases have included the Ironman race series. Did you know? Advance Publications is the majority shareholder of website Reddit, which styles itself as the front page of the internet. Timeline 1922: S.I. Newhouse establishes Advance Publications. 1998: Book publisher Random House sold to Bertelsmann. 2017: Si Newhouse Jr. dies.


NAMEChearavanont COMPANYCharoen Pokphand Group WEALTH$30.7bn INDUSTRYDiversified LOCATIONBangkok GENERATIONS4

Chia Ek Chor fled his typhoon-ravaged village in southern China and started a new life in Thailand, selling vegetable seeds with his brother in 1921. Almost a century later, Chia’s son Dhanin Chearavanont is senior chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group, a conglomerate with food, retail and telecom units. Did you know? An arm of the family’s conglomerate is considering setting up a shrimp farm in the U.S. Timeline 1921: Chia Ek Chor and brother set up a seed shop in Bangkok. 1939: Dhanin Chearavanont is born, the youngest of four brothers. 2017: Two of Dhanin's sons become CEO and chairman. 2020: Group pledges to become zero waste and carbon neutral by 2030.



Michele Ferrero built a global chocolate confectionery company from a single store in the small Italian town of Alba. His son Giovanni took sole helm of the family business after his brother Pietro died in a cycling accident in 2011. Ferrero acquired Nestle's U.S. candy business for $2.8 billion in 2018. Did you know? Giovanni Ferrero is also a novelist, writing “Il Cacciatore di Luce” (The Light Hunter), which was published in 2016. Timeline 1946: Pietro Ferrero creates a sweet paste from hazelnuts, sugar and cocoa in war-ravaged Italy. 1964: First jar of Nutella is produced. 2017: Ferrero appoints its first non-family chief executive, Lapo Civiletti.



Kwok Tak-seng listed Sun Hung Kai Properties in 1972. The company has since become one of Hong Kong’s largest property developers and the basis of the Kwok family fortune. His sons, Walter, Thomas and Raymond, assumed control when he died in 1990. Did you know? Sun Hung Kai Properties paid a record $5 billion for land that sits atop a new cross-border railway station in Hong Kong. Timeline 1972: Kwok Tak-seng, a grocery wholesaler, incorporates Sun Hung Kai Properties. 2008: Walter Kwok is ousted as chairman after a feud with his brothers. 2018: Geoffrey Kwok is appointed as non-executive director of Sun Hung Kai Properties.



The son of a Ukrainian immigrant, A.N. Pritzker began investing in real estate and troubled companies while working for his father’s law firm. The investments seeded the fortune of one of America’s oldest dynasties, whose assets include Hyatt Hotels. The family are prominent Democrats, with Penny Pritzker serving as U.S. commerce secretary under President Barack Obama. Did you know? Occupancy rates were about 15% at Hyatt hotels that remained open through the first quarter. Timeline 1881: Nicholas Pritzker arrives in Chicago. 1936: A.N. Pritzker and brother Jack branch out from law and start investing in real estate. 1957: Nicholas's grandsons Jay and Donald Pritzker create the Hyatt Hotels chain. 1999: Jay Pritzker dies.



Lee Byung-chull started Samsung as a trading company exporting fruit, vegetables and fish in 1938. He got into the electronics business by setting up Samsung Electronics in 1969, which has become the world's largest maker of memory chips and smartphones. After his death in 1987, his third son, Lee Kun-hee, took over the business. He had a heart attack in 2014 and his son, Jay Y. Lee, has since been leading Samsung. Did you know? Jay Y. Lee promised not to hand down leadership to his children after a succession scandal. Timeline 1938: Lee Byung-chull starts a company exporting fruit, vegetables and fish. 1987: Lee Kun-hee becomes chairman of Samsung Group. 2015: Jay Y. Lee is elected chairman of two Samsung foundations.


This website uses cookies We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you've provided to them or that they've collected from your use of their services
Real Time Analytics