Wealth Dynasties: The 4 Richest Families In The World

Meet the four richest families in the world who’ve amassed combined fortunes worth $600 billion through their respective industries. 

Lifestyle Asia has covered the world’s richest people, as well as the wealthiest individuals in Asia and the Philippines. But what about the families who hold collective power over many of the planet’s biggest industries? These dynasties have passed on their family businesses from one generation to another, continuing to accrue wealth in unprecedented amounts. 

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Exactly how immense are these fortunes? Well, according to Bloomberg’s 2022 list of the world’s richest families, the wealth of the top four reaches nine-figures. The list didn’t, however, include prestigious families whose fortunes are more dispersed and rather hard to track, such as the Rockefellers. 

That said, the clans who snagged the top four spots on Bloomberg’s list also have a long history in various industries, and have spent years diversifying their ventures and gaining more wealth in return. Below is a list of these powerful families and the stories behind their impressive fortunes: 

The Walton Family ($224.5 billion)

The Waltons are the family behind Walmart—one of the world’s largest retailers by sales. They own an estimated 47% of the brand, which has over 10,500 stores globally. So it’s no wonder they’ve amassed such a large fortune, given how Walmart’s revenue reached $573 billion in 2022. 

A Walmart Supercenter in Grundy, Virginia
A Walmart Supercenter in Grundy, Virginia/Photo by Aaron F. Stone via Wikimedia Commons

Based on Bloomberg’s data, the three-generation clan of tycoons have ranked first among the world’s richest families for four straight years. Walmart was founded by Sam Walton and his brother James “Bud” Walton in 1945. According to Forbes, Rob Walton—one of Sam’s three children—served as the company’s chairman for more than two decades before his son-in-law, Greg Penner, took over in 2015. 

A yearbook picture of Sam Walton in 1936
A yearbook picture of Sam Walton in 1936/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, the family has branched out beyond consumer retail, also investing in venture capital, index funds, and real estate. For example, the Waltons also happen to own Arvest Bank, Parcel (a tech-based parcel delivery service), and Bonobos (an online apparel brand), just to name a few. 

Walton's son, Rob, had been the chairman of Walmart for two decades
Walton’s son, Rob, had been the chairman of Walmart for two decades/Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Though the Waltons could easily keep all the wealth to themselves, Business Insider reports that they live fairly modest lives in comparison to the fortune they hold. They also help fund a variety of causes and programs that support education, community development, and environmental preservation through their Walton Family Foundation. 

The Mars Family ($160 billion)

The Mars family fortune began when 19-year-old Frank Mars started selling candies in 1902. From there, his business quickly grew and expanded into the Mars company—the very name behind beloved sweets like M&Ms, Snickers, and Milky Way bars. Surprisingly enough, the family’s fortune didn’t reach immense growth through candies alone.

Frank Mars
Frank Mars/Photo from the Snack History website

It was actually pet care products that skyrocketed the wealth of the five-generation family, making up half of its $45 billion revenue. Mars is the world’s biggest provider of petcare products and veterinary services, according to the Bloomberg report. 

The beloved M&M candies are one of the Mars family's most famous products
The beloved M&M candies are one of the Mars family’s most famous products/Photo by Sebastian Gómez via Unsplash

Mars Petcare includes 50 of the world’s biggest names in pet care, including Royal Canin, Whiskas, and Pedigree. In 2019, the family expanded its pet care division with the $9 billion acquisition of VCA Animal Hospitals. The pet industry is a lucrative one with millions of pet parents around the globe, which explains the scale of the clan’s fortune.  

Jacqueline Mars
Jacqueline Mars/Photo from the National Archives website

Multiple members of the Mars family hold positions at the company and serve on its board of directors, as per Forbes. For the most part, the family lives a quiet existence and tends to avoid the limelight. Jacqueline Mars—one of Frank’s grandchildren—is the most public figure from the group, and has supported several charities through the Mars Foundation. 

The Koch Family ($128.8 billion)

Ranking third in this list is the Koch family, which runs Koch Industries—multinational conglomerate and one of the largest private companies in America.

Fred Koch
Fred Koch/Photo from the Kansas Business Hall of Fame website

Annually, the megacorporation earns a revenue of $125 billion. It owns several companies, including Flint Hills Resources (an oil refining company), Molex (a leading manufacturer of electronic, electrical, and fiber optic connectivity systems), and Infor (an enterprise software company). 

The Koch family fortune actually started with Wood River Oil & Refining Co., an oil firm established by Fred Koch. He then passed on the business to his four sons Frederick, Charles, William, and David. 

Charles Koch
Charles Koch/Photo by Gavin Peters via Wikimedia Commons

However, feuds over who controlled the company resulted in a split between the brothers, with only Charles and David remaining. The two siblings evolved the company into its current iteration, Koch Industries, and their family continues to manage it through their family office in Kansas, 1888 Management

The Al Saud Family ($105 billion)

Finally, there’s the Al Saud Family—the only non-American dynasty within the top four richest. Saudi Arabia was actually named after the powerful royal family, who’ve contributed to the country’s oil reserves for nearly 90 years. 

1940s portrait of King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud
1940s portrait of King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud/Photo from the Saudi National Museum

Bloomberg calculated the Al Saud clan’s net worth based on the payouts they received for five decades from the king’s executive office, the Royal Diwan. As such, their actual wealth may be even higher than the estimated value of $105 billion.

Around 15,000 extended family members control the Al Saud wealth, though only 2,000 of them possess most of this wealth and prestige as per Financial Express. The wealth was accrued through land deals, government contracts, and businesses that service state companies, according to Bloomberg

The "Kingdom 5KR" luxury yacht owned by Al-Waleed bin Talal
The “Kingdom 5KR” luxury yacht owned by Al-Waleed bin Talal/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

So how do these rich royals live? Well, lavishly, as one would expect from a family sixteen times richer than the British monarchy. This lifestyle includes multiple palaces, a collection of priceless art (including a $450 million Da Vinci), luxury yachts, private jets, and yes—even supercars like a gold-plated Lamborghini Aventador SV. 

Tycoon and philanthropist, Al-Waleed bin Talal
Tycoon and philanthropist, Al-Waleed bin Talal/Photo via Facebook

As of April 2023, reports stated that Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud is the wealthiest member of the family with a net worth of almost $20 billion. The royal is not only a tycoon, but also a philanthropist who heads Alwaleed Philanthropies—an NGO that’s donated billions of dollars in support of educational, housing, environmental, and women empowerment projects, among other charitable causes. 

Banner photo via Wikimedia Commons, edited by Agatha Romero.

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