The Forbes 2020 Billionaires List reveals who the world’s richest people are but also how the wealth of the superrich is distributed among the sexes. With the Bezos divorce finalized last year, MacKenzie Bezos, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is now the world’s fourth richest woman. The 50-year-old is a Princeton graduate, an award-wining novelist and currently the executive director of anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution.
Bezos was pushed down one rank by new entry to the list, Julia Koch. She inherited a 42 percent stake in U.S. conglomerate Koch Industries – equivalent to a $38 billion fortune – when her husband, David Koch, passed away in August.
According to the list, there are only 12 women among the 100 wealthiest people on the planet and all of them have made their fortune by inheritance (or divorce) from a wealthy relative or husband. Walmart heiress Alice Walton tops the list this year, taking the lead from last year’s richest woman, French L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (Walton was the richest women in the world in 2018).
Women from China and Hong Kong dominated the list of the richest self-made female billionaires. The richest of them comes in at rank 70 of the Billionaire’s List. Zhong Huijuan is the chair of drugmaker Hansoh Pharmaceutical. The Shanghai-based businesswoman has profited from the recent biotechnology boom in her home country China. Wu Yajun of Beijing (overall rank 101) made her fortune by cofounding Hong Kong-listed real estate company Longfor Properties with their then-husband. Since the divorce, she has been chairing the company by herself. Chan Laiwa, also of Beijing, made it big in real-estate in her home city. Two more self-made billionaires from China and Hong Kong became rich by supplying smartphone screens and other parts to companies like Samsung, LG, Nokia, Apple and Huawei.
The single non-Chinese or Hong Kongese on the self-made list is American Diane Hendricks in rank four, who co-founded roofing company ABC Supply in 1982 and chairs it by herself since 2007.
Women sharing their wealth with their husbands or other male relatives were not included in this list. On the self-made list, this applies to agriculture magnates Steward and Lynda Resnick of California, shipping tycoons Gianluigi and Rafaela Aponte of Switzerland and Tom and Judy Love from Oklahoma, who made it big in rest stops. The overall list omits siblings Beate Heister and Karl Albrecht Jr., whose father co-founded retail giant Aldi.