World's richest moms

World's richest moms, Only 70 mothers in the world have billion-dollar fortunes, and just eight of these built their own.

Margaret C. Whitman, better known as Meg, has had a storied career. A graduate of Princeton and Harvard Business School, she worked at Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG - News) before moving to California with her husband, a neurosurgeon who now works at Stanford Hospital. After successful stints at consulting firm Bain & Co., Disney (NYSE: DIS - News) and Hasbro (NYSE: HAS - News), she joined eBay (NasdaqGS: EBAY - News), then a small tech firm with 30 employees, as chief executive. In 2004 she debuted on Forbes' World's Billionaires List.

The World's Richest Moms

There are 70 billionaire moms in the world, and only eight of those women--including Meg Whitman and J.K. Rowling--earned their own way to vast riches. But none of those self-starters are among the world's 10 richest moms, a group that is dominated by widows and daughters of the very rich.

Christy Walton
$22.5 billion


55. Widowed, 1 child

Became a billionaire in 2005 when her late husband John, second son of Wal-Mart Stores founder Sam Walton, died when his ultralight aircraft crashed. She is the richest of the Waltons thanks to John's early bet on alternative energy firm First Solar.

Liliane Bettencourt
$20 billion


87. Widowed, 1 child

Makeup heiress inherited fortune from her father, the founder of cosmetic giant L'Oreal. Europe's richest mom is not on speaking terms with her only daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyer. Daughter claims Francoise-Marie Banier, 61, a well-known photographer, writer and painter Liliane befriended, took advantage of her mother, who became a widow in 2007. Last year Bettencourt-Meyers petitioned courts to investigate reported $1.4 billion worth of cash and gifts that her mother allegedly gave Banier. Liliane denies all; has been ordered to undergo psychological testing before a July trial.

Birgit Rausing
$13 billion


86. Widowed, 3 children

She and her three children inherited packaging giant Tetra Laval after her husband Gad Rausing died in 2000. The firm revolutionized the storing of liquids, such as juices and milk, by developing lightweight packaging that preserves the nutritional value and taste of products. Birgit is retired in Switzerland. Leaves family business to her children, all three of whom sit on board; Jorn, the youngest, also heads company's mergers and acquisitions division.

Savitri Jindal
$12.2 billion


60. Widowed, 9 children

Nonexecutive chair of the O.P. Jindal Group, a steel and power conglomerate founded by her late husband, Om Prakash Jindal, in 1952. Took over as group head after he died in a helicopter crash in 2005. In his lifetime the patriarch had handed down operations to their 4 sons, Prithviraj, Sajjan, Ratan and Naveen, who today run independent units. Savitri was re-elected in the assembly elections in Haryana, her home state.

Abigail Johnson
$11.5 billion


48. Married, 2 children

With her father she controls Fidelity Investments, America's largest mutual fund company, founded by her grandfather. She earned an MBA at Harvard and joined the family business in 1988. Abby got to run her first diversified fund at age 28. Now she runs personal and workplace investing division; believed by some to be father's chosen successor.

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