The World's Richest Moms

Yes, they're billionaires!

The World’s Richest Moms

Yes, they’re billionaires!

-Jane Farrell

Rich moms

Amid all the hearts-and-flowers sentiment surrounding Mother’s Day (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Forbes magazine focused on cold cash with its list of the World’s Richest Moms.

Of the world’s 70 billionaire mothers, the magazine reports, only eight earned their money themselves. Among them: Meg Whitman, ($1 billion, according to estimates) who made one of the best business decisions ever by joining a 30-person company with the weird name of eBay. Now she’s the chief executive there and is aiming to become governor of California. Another by-the-bootstraps billionaire: Harry Potter author JK Rowling, whose wealth is also estimated at $1 billion.

But neither is in the top 5, which is made up of women who inherited their money from their late husband or father. (And only two of them are from the U.S.) So who are they, anyway? Drumroll, please…

Read The Women of 2009

Christy Walton, $22.5 billion. She inherited the money when her husband John Walton, son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, died in 2005. According to Forbes, her fortune comes not only from Walmart, but from John’s adventurous bet on solar energy with the company First Solar.

Liliane Bettencourt, $20 billion. Daughter of the founder of the L’Oreal cosmetics empire. She’s been involved in a court battle with her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyer, who claims Liliane has been duped by a male “companion” to the tune of $1.4 billion. A court trial to investigate the billion-dollar gift is scheduled for July; Liliane is to undergo psychological testing in the meantime.

Birgit Rausing, $13 billion. The widow of a Swedish businessman who was the head of a packaging company, Tetra Laval. Gad Rausing made his money by developing lightweight packaging for juices and milk. Birgit, a native of Sweden, now lives in Switzerland.

Savitri Jindal, $12.2 billion. Her late husband, Om Prakash Jindal, founded a steel and power company, O.P. Jindal. Before his death, Jindal handed over control of the company to his and Savitri’s four sons. Today, Savitri is an elected assemblywoman in the Indian state of Haryana.

Abigail Johnson, $11.5 billion. The daughter of the head of Fidelity Investments, the largest mutual fund company in the U.S. , she has an MBA from Harvard. She runs the company’s personal and workplace investing division—and, reportedly, is the person her father has picked to run the company after he retires. (Yahoo!, Forbes)

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