The billionaires with no kids to leave their fortunes to
The heirless super-rich ranked
Some lucky descendents of the richest people on Earth stand to inherit millions or even billions, but not all of the super-rich have heirs to pass their money onto. Here are the world’s wealthiest billionaires who don’t have children, according to analysis by Forbes and Bloomberg.
- David Geffen: $7.9 billion
College dropout David Geffen made his money through Geffen Records, which signed top artists from Elton John to Nirvana. He co-founded film studio DreamWorks SKG and has also reportedly made hundreds of millions selling artworks. The 75-year-old, who came out in the 1990s, has donated to many causes linked to gay rights and AIDS. His property empire has been valued at $450 million and he owns a 453-foot yacht.
- Ma Jianrong: $7.9 billion
The Shenzhou International Group is not widely known outside Asia, but its products are worn by people all over the world. Ma Jianrong is chair of the sportswear and casual clothing manufacturer, a major supplier for Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo and others. The 55-year-old started out on the factory floor, but took over from his father as chair at 33, before they bought the company. The business is now publicly traded and employs more than 70,000 workers. While he is married, Ma has no children.
- Giorgio Armani: $8.6 billion
Fashion legend Giorgio Armani has said his nephews and nieces will probably inherit his company, though he has no plans to retire himself. The 84-year-old started out as a window dresser in a Milan department store, before launching his own line in the 1970s. His big break came when he designed Richard Gere’s outfits for the 1980 film American Gigolo , and his clothing ranges are now sold in 46 countries worldwide.
- Carl Cook: $8.6 billion
Carl Cook’s parents started a small medical supplies business in their apartment in Bloomington, Indiana in 1963. Today the Cook Group is a manufacturing colossus, producing around 16,000 different devices that are sold worldwide, from catheters to dilators. Carl, 56, became chief executive after his father’s death in 2011 and owns the company, but does not have children himself to bequeath the family fortune.
- Pang Kang: $9.5 billion
Pang Kang, 63, has no son or daughter to inherit his stake in China’s largest soy sauce manufacturer. He joined Foshan Haitian Flavouring & Food as a graduate, working his way up to chairman. Thousands of employees and now smart robots produce more than 200 different condiments at its factories, from oyster sauce to oil.
- Eduardo Saverin: $9.5 billion
Eduardo Saverin is one of the founders of Facebook, though he had to fight a legal battle to be officially credited on its website. The Brazil-born 36-year-old has gained huge wealth through his 2% stake in the social media giant. But he actually left the company in 2004 amid disagreements about the early Facebook’s direction. He is now a venture capitalist in the tech sector, lives in Singapore, and so far has no children.
- Jan Koum: $9.6 billion
Former Yahoo employee Jan Koum is one of the leading brains behind WhatsApp, which he co-founded in 2009. He was born in a Ukrainian village, but moved as a teenager with his late mother to California, where he still lives. Facebook bought WhatsApp for cash and stock worth $22 billion in 2014. Koum, 42, is now on Facebook’s board but has donated $555 million of his shares to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
- Karl Albrecht Jr: $9.96 billion
Karl Albrecht Sr (pictured) founded supermarket Aldi with his brother in Germany in 1946. They split the business and his half, ALDI SÜD, passed into the hands of his children Karl Jr and Beate Keister. Son Karl Jr, 70, has spent much of his career working at the firm he owns half of, while his sister has not. Yet while she has children, Karl Jr does not and so the future of his stake is somewhat up in the air.
- Walter P.J. Droege: $10.2 billion
Walter P.J. Droege is far from a global household name, but his vast fortune has made him the 146th richest person in the world. The 65-year-old from Dusseldorf, Germany, launched an investment firm called Droege Group with his wife Hedda in the 1980s. The company now works across 30 countries and makes around $12 billion a year in revenue. He does not have children, and has spent some of his wealth on contemporary art – both for himself and to inspire his staff.
- Charles Butt: $10.7 billion
Charles Butt holds 85% of H-E-B, a grocery chain that has become a Texas institution since its launch in 1905. Founded by his grandmother Florence when his grandfather fell sick, it has more than 100,000 workers at hundreds of stores in the U.S.A. and Mexico. Butt, now 81, became CEO in the 1970s, and is the majority shareholder. He has donated to children’s museums and teacher training, and even received honours from Mexico’s government for his work and philanthropy in the country.
- Alexander Otto: $10.7 billion
Much of Alexander Otto’s wealth stems from his share of the Otto Group, a mail order firm his father Werner built in postwar Germany. The family built up an empire of more than 40 firms in the worlds of retail, finance and property. Alexander has been CEO of their real estate firm ECE since 2000, managing around 200 shopping centers across Europe. He is married to wife Dorit but the couple do not have children.
- Dustin Moskovitz: $11 billion
Dustin Moskovitz is one of the lesser-known faces behind Facebook, which he helped create with Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard University in 2004. He was the social networking site’s chief technology officer, but left in 2008 and has since launched workflow software company Asana. The Florida-born 34-year-old and his former Wall Street Journal reporter wife Cari Tuna have a foundation called Good Ventures, donating to help tackle malaria and other global issues.
- Udo and Harald Tschira: $11.4 billion
Brothers Udo and Harald Tschira may have a huge combined wealth, but neither have children. They inherited their money in turn from their father Klaus Tschira, an ex-ITM employee who co-founded German software giant SAP in the 1970s. SAP became the biggest producer of business management software on the planet, and Klaus set up a foundation to inspire a love of science and IT. His less high-profile sons, whose ages are not even widely known, continue his foundation’s work.
- Wang Wenyin: $12 billion
Few people outside China know Wang Wenyin or his company Amer International Group, but inside the country it’s an economic giant. The copper and cable supplier has more than 17,000 staff, and generated revenue of around $70 billion in 2017 alone. Married but childless Wenyin, 51, is chairman of the company, which he founded in 1994.
- Alisher Usmanov: $12.7 billion
Born in Uzbekistan, investor Alisher Usmanov started out producing plastic bags before taking over a subsidiary of Russian state gas giant Gazprom. He has held stakes in digital companies including Airbnb, Spotify and Facebook, but his largest holdings are in Metalloinvest, Russia’s largest iron ore producer. The 65-year-old bought Russia’s biggest private jet in 2012, and until recently held shares in English football club Arsenal.
- Klaus-Michael Kuehne: $13.5 billion. German Klaus-Michael Kuehne owns a majority stake in a shipping firm co-founded by his grandfather back in 1890. The transport and logistics company, Kuehne + Nagel International AG, ships millions of containers every year. Kuehne was an only child and became CEO in 1966. Yet the married 81-year-old has no heir, and has said his wealth will go to his charitable foundation.
- Wang Wei: $14.5 billion. Wang Wei’s parcel delivery firm SF Express has been dubbed the Fedex of China, with more than 30,000 vehicles. The 49-year-old borrowed money from his father, a Chinese air force interpreter, to found the company in 1993. It is now not only China’s biggest parcel firm, obtaining China’s first licence for drone deliveries in March 2018, but also delivers across the globe. Wang Wei himself is publicity-shy, rarely speaking to the media.
- German Larrea Mota Velasco: $14.8 billion. German Larrea Mota Velasco, 65, is the son of Mexico’s “copper king”, Jorge Larrea. He tends to avoid the spotlight, but has had a lot to do since inheriting his father’s Grupo Mexico in 1994. The firm owns one of the world’s biggest copper mines in Cananea, northwest Mexico. German Larrea managed to increase the mining firm’s value 25 times over, but has also faced legal battles with striking miners and heavy criticism over contaminated rivers.