Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, granddaughter of French pharmacist and L’Oreal founder Eugene Schueller, is the world’s richest woman with a net worth of $74.8 billion, topping the Forbes 2022 World Billionaires List for women for the second year in a row.
The 10 richest women in the world have a combined net worth of $401bn, with the majority inheriting their wealth, according to Forbes, which used stock prices and exchange rates from March 11 to calculate the personal fortunes of the wealthiest people on the planet.
In total, there are 2,668 billionaires in the world, down from an all-time high of 2,755 last year, Forbes said. Of this, there are 327 female billionaires, down from 328 in 2021.
“In all, these 327 women (including those who share their fortune with their spouse, child or sibling) are worth a collective $1.56 trillion, up from $1.53tn last year,” Forbes said in its annual report.
Walmart heiress Alice Walton ranked second on the list with a net worth of $65.3bn, followed by Julia Koch with a personal fortune of $60bn.
Last week, Forbes declared Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of electric vehicle maker Tesla, the world’s richest person with a net worth of $219bn.
The Russia-Ukraine crisis, Covid-19 pandemic and volatile stock markets have taken a toll on the combined wealth of the world’s richest people, which slipped 3 per cent to $12.7tn over the past year, down from a record $13.1tn in 2021.
MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is the world's fourth-richest woman with a net worth of $43.6bn, while Jacqueline Mars — who inherited an estimated one third of Mars Incorporated, the sweets and pet food conglomerate behind brands such as M&M’s — is ranked fifth with $31.7bn.
Ms Scott, 51, who is now married to Dan Jewett, a science teacher living in Seattle, Washington, received a 4 per cent stake in Amazon as part of her 2019 divorce settlement from Mr Bezos, the world's second-richest person, according to Reuters. At the time, the stake was valued at $39bn.
Since her divorce, Ms Scott has become one of the world's most generous philanthropists, donating a total of about $12.4bn in 1,257 grants since she signed the Giving Pledge in 2019.
Over the past nine months alone, Ms Scott donated almost $3.9bn to 465 organisations, including the largest-ever gift from one person to Planned Parenthood, Bloomberg reported last week.
“We don’t advocate for particular policies or reforms,” Ms Scott said in her latest Medium post published on March 30. “Instead, we seek a portfolio of organisations that supports the ability of all people to participate in solutions.”
Meanwhile, 101 women on the Forbes World Billionaires list are self-made, including roofing supply entrepreneur Diane Hendricks with a personal fortune of $11bn, Gap co-founder Doris Fisher ($2.2bn) and British online gambling entrepreneur Denise Coates ($5.3bn), the magazine said.
Musician and businesswoman Rihanna made her debut on the Forbes list to become Barbados’ first billionaire with a net worth of $1.7bn.
Other newcomers include Australia's Melanie Perkins, 34, co-founder and chief executive of graphic design platform Canva, with a fortune of $6.5bn, and Melinda French Gates, who became a billionaire in her own right following her divorce from Bill Gates in 2021, with a net worth of $6.1bn, according to Forbes.
In total, the US has the highest number of female billionaires in the world with 90, followed by China on 63 (including 11 from Hong Kong) and Germany with 35, Forbes added.
The world’s top 10 richest women in 2022
- Francoise Bettencourt Meyers: $74.8bn
- Alice Walton: $65.3bn
- Julia Koch: $60bn
- MacKenzie Scott: $43.6bn
- Jacqueline Mars: $31.7bn
- Gina Rinehart: $30.2bn
- Miriam Adelson: $27.5bn
- Susanne Klatten: $24.3bn
- Iris Fontbona: $22.8bn
- Abigail Johnson: $21.2bn