According to Forbes, there are 45 American families with a net worth of at least $10 billion. The wealthiest family, the Waltons, has a fortune of $267 billion, which is more than Elon Musk’s net worth of around $202 billion. The Mars family is the second wealthiest family with a fortune of $117 billion.
Prominent names such as Koch, Lauder, Hearst and Marriott are also included in the list. However, some well-known families such as Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Getty were omitted for reasons including stock-price performance, legal disputes and taxes on stock sales.
The descendants of John D. Rockefeller barely made it onto Forbes’ list with a fortune of $10.3 billion. Some families built their fortunes by establishing the country’s largest private companies while others still maintain ownership stakes in public companies they helped build.
The most effective way to build vast generational wealth appears to be creating a lasting massive business, regardless of whether it is kept in the family or sold. Many families have sold their stakes in businesses at different points in time such as the Busch family who sold its stake in Anheuser-Busch to InBev in 2008 and the Haslam family who sold their stake in Pilot Travel Centers for about $13 billion to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway over several years.