According to a recent report by Forbes, there are now 45 American families worth at least $10 billion each. At the top of the list are the heirs of Walmart founder Sam Walton, who have a combined net worth of $267 billion, surpassing even that of Elon Musk. The total wealth of these 45 families is approximately $1.3 trillion, which is about 10 times the personal fortune of Warren Buffett.
The Mars family, with a fortune of $117 billion tied to the confectionery industry, is the second wealthiest family on the list. Other well-known names on the list include the Koch, Lauder, Hearst, and Marriott families. However, some historically wealthy families such as the Carnegies, Vanderbilts, and Gettys have slipped from the rankings due to various reasons including stock performance, legal disputes, taxes, and charitable giving. Even the descendants of John D. Rockefeller made it onto the list with a fortune of $10.3 billion.
Many of these wealthy families have accumulated their fortunes through ownership of large private companies or holding significant stakes in public companies. Some have even sold off their businesses to other companies or individuals. For example, the Busch family sold their stake in Anheuser-Busch and the Haslam family sold their stake in Pilot Travel Centers to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Overall, this list suggests that building substantial generational wealth requires creating a massive and long-lasting business that can be passed down through generations or eventually sold for profit. Whether it remains in the family or is taken private or eventually sold to another company or individual