Generational wealth is an undeniably powerful force, and everyone from royal dynasties to the Rothschilds pass money and power through the family lines. Newly minted billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are first-generation money, so their wealth is relatively new.
Many families alive today live a life that was created for them by their ancestors. This elite one percent of wealthiest families in the world were born into wealth, unlike the self-made tech founders currently sitting at the top of the wealth gap.
If you want to provide financial security for your family, it’s important to understand how the wealthiest families do it. These families are still managing vast fortunes left to them.
10. The Boehringer and von Baumbach Families
Boehringer Ingelheim is a German pharmaceuticals company over a century old, and it earned a $45.7 billion fortune for the two families descended from its founder Albert Boehringer. He started the company in 1885 selling tartaric acid in the food industry, which grew in demand as fizzy drinks and baking powder got popular.
When he died in 1939 at the age of 78, his two sons Albert Jr. and Ernst took over the company, alongside son-in-law Julius Liebrecht. They saw the company through second World War and continued growing the business into one of the largest private companies in the world.
Keeping the company private made the family wealthy through the generations, and its family members still sit on the board and in various leadership positions.
9. The Cargill-MacMillan Family
With revenues over $100 billion, Cargill is one of America’s largest private companies. And that put the Cargill-MacMillan family’s fortune around $47 billion, making it one of the wealthiest families in America. Forbes estimates eight family members are billionaires from this company founded in 1865 following the Civil War.
William Wallace Cargill and his son-in-law John H. MacMillan Sr. founded the company as a grain storage business and grew it into an enterprise giant.
In the 2020s, Cargill is an international agriculture company that provides risk management, commodities trading, and transportation services, along with distribution and production of products like sugar, refined oil, chocolate, and turkey. The family owns over 90 percent of the company and made major changes to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
8. The Johnson Family
At $60 billion, the Johnson Family fortune fueled by its 49-percent stake in Fidelity Investments is one of the largest in the world. The other 51 percent of the company is owned by employees, which shows the mutual fund company’s dedication to its hardest workers.
The company was founded in 1946 by Edward C. Johnson, the grandfather of current CEO Abigail Johnson. In the 2020s, Fidelity has $3.5 trillion in managed assets, making it the second largest mutual fund company behind Vanguard.
And the company is just one of the family’s assets, which include lumber, agriculture, oil and gas, hospitality, transportation, and more. Like many families on this list, the Johnsons are notoriously publicity shy, although their net worth climbed in the aftermath of the pandemic.
7. The Dumas Family
The Dumas family is the dynasty created by luxury brand Hermes, and they’re worth an estimated $64 billion, up from $49.2 billion only two years ago. The brand is known for the exclusivity of its renowned Birkin bag that requires an invite to purchase for practically the price of a new house.
It started in 1837 with Thierry Hermes, a skilled leather worker whose royal clientele earned it a cult-like following through six generations.
In the fourth generation, Robert Dumas took over from Grandfather Emile-Maurice Hermes. He steered the company from saddles to belts and bags. His son then grew the company into a billion-dollar global business while creating one of the most transcendent fashion status symbols of all time.
6. The Wertheimer Family
The house that Coco Chanel built in 1920s Paris is worth around $67 billion. It is divided evenly between brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer. Their grandfather Pierre Wertheimer and his brother Paul struck the deal with Chanel to create the company in 1924 and spread Chanel No. 5 to a broader audience.
The brothers are known today as a discreet family that rarely speaks in public interviews. They still take an active role in the company, although they avoid store openings and rarely comment publicly on the business.
5. The Ambani Family
The Ambani family is the wealthiest family in Asia, with a net worth over $80 billion, thanks to Reliance Industries. The company was founded by Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani in partnership with his second cousin to get into the import/export business.
Its textile brands became household names in India, making the family multi-billionaires by the time of his death in 2002.
His sons took over the company and split it into two groups, although Anil later filed for bankruptcy claiming a net worth of zero. This number is questioned, especially with brother Mukesh reportedly worth $82.9 billion.
4. The Mars Family
Americans love Mars candy brands, like Snickers and M&M’s, and their net worth of around $94 billion makes the Mars family one of the wealthiest in the world.
The company started with Frank Mars selling candy out of his kitchen in 1911, and his son joined the company to create the nougat found in Snickers and Milky Way bars.
By the 2020s, the company expanded through a series of acquisitions including Wrigley’s, Pedigree, Uncle Ben’s Rice, and Banfield Veterinary Clinic. The family is still involved in the company’s board, which gave a $26 million donation to pandemic relief.
3. The Koch Family
The Koch family is one of the wealthiest in the country and world, with a net worth of about $100 billion. It happened on the back of Koch Industries, which was started in 1940 by Fred Koch as an oil-focused engineering company.
After building oil refineries for Russia and Germany, Koch came to the U.S., where the company we know today was created. The company is heavily involved in political matters, thanks to Charles and David, Fred’s sons and the heirs to his fortune.
The company is involved in a variety of oils, resins, polymers, robotics, biofuels, and more. This grew the company to a valuation well over $100 billion, which is split between members of the Koch family.
2. The Walton Family
With a value estimated around $250 billion, the Waltons are the wealthiest family in the United States. The wealth comes from Walmart (WMT), which was co-founded by brothers Bud and Sam Walton. The company is known as the world’s largest retailer, and it started in 1945 with just one store, which was a franchise of another brand.
By 1962, the first Walmart-branded store opened, and the company focused on logistics. By building out a distribution footprint, the company made the Walton family one of the richest in the world within two generations
But its fortune is still eclipsed on a global scale by one family.
1. The Al Saud Family
Saudi Arabia’s royal family is also the richest in the world, with an estimated net worth over $1 trillion. The House of Saud is an Arabic dynasty that ruled the region for over 300 years, and the modern family consists of over 15,000 members.
The family lives an envious lifestyle, which includes mansions, yachts, jets, helicopters, and more.
Most importantly, the family owns Saudi Aramco, which is valued as high as $7 trillion and is one of the world’s most profitable companies. This combination of both wealth and political power makes the Al Saud family the gold standard of generational riches.
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