Who's the Richest Woman in the World?
Answer: Francoise Bettencourt Meyers
Current net worth: $77.3 billion
Closest competitor: Alice Walton
The makeup aisles at Target, Walgreens, Ulta and most other retail giants all feature products from L’Oreal. The international personal care company was founded in 1909, and anyone who inherits large shares in the company is very, very lucky. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers became the latest L’Oreal heiress in 2017 after the passing of her mother, Liliane.
Overnight, Francoise became the world’s richest woman, but she didn’t inherit her fortune without a fight. A man named François-Marie Banier tried to con the elderly Liliane, so Francoise took him to court. They settled out of court, and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family went on to inherit 33 percent of all L’Oreal stock.
According to Forbes, her current net worth hovers at a lofty $77.3 billion. Even with enough money to buy a mansion in every state, an island and probably an entire small country, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is only the 12th richest person in the world. With the persistent wage gap and the prevalence of women taking on more child-rearing responsibilities, men have consistently topped the list of richest people. Even so, cracking the top 15 is pretty impressive.
Bettencourt Meyers isn’t an entitled, lazy heiress by any means. She began serving on the L’Oreal board in 1997 and is currently the chairwoman of the family’s holding company. She’s also big on philanthropy. The Bettencourt Meyers family and L’Oreal jointly donated $226 million to help the repair efforts after the Notre Dame cathedral fire in 2019.
The runner-up for the richest woman in the world is Alice Walton. The only daughter of Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, she currently has a net worth of $63 billion.
She was the world’s richest woman for some time, but Francoise Bettencourt Meyers has since surpassed her. Alice Walton isn’t heavily involved in Walmart, choosing instead to use her fortune to support the arts and promote holistic health in her community.
The Bottom Line
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers might be the world’s richest woman, but her fortune is still less than half that of the leading centibillionaire.
Nevertheless, $77.3 billion is nothing to laugh at. And countless businesswomen are adding their names to the list of richest people in the world.
For more reading, check out these 30 women whose collective net worth is greater than the GDP of the entire country of Sweden.