Golden Years: The Oldest Billionaires In The World

The young billionaires of the world are subject to a lot of media and public attention. They’re often behind a big, exciting idea, and it’s a huge accomplishment to have struck it rich at such a young age. Billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, constantly make global headlines thanks to the sky high returns their companies’ innovations bring in. Of course, eventually, the young rich will – if they’re careful – make it to old age with their billions in hand. Today, there are 17 billionaires over the age of 90, and many more over the age of 80.

In a time where it seems most new billionaires find their fortunes in the technology and software industries, it’s interesting to see how the current oldest billionaires accumulated their wealth. Unlike the meteoric ascent enjoyed by many of today’s high-flyers, the oldest billionaires have accumulated their wealth over a longer period of time, primarily from working in traditional industries such as agriculture, oil, and banking. With the exception of a few who were lucky enough to to inherit their fortunes, most of them started off pulling themselves up the ladder in their younger years. Those who inherited fortunes have by and large strived to maintain the founders’ legacies. 

As the oldest billionaires near the end of their lives, they are faced with the difficult decision of what to do with the money they have accumulated. Most of them are set to bequeath their fortunes to capable family members, donate to charity, and fund the various foundations they have started. Ranging from 92 to 98 years of age, here are the 10 oldest billionaires in the world.

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10 Alberto Benavides (Age: 92 - $2 billion)

A self made man, Peru’s Alberto Benavides is the 10th oldest billionaire in the world, having come into his wealth primarily through his stakes in the mining industry. He owns a 27% stake in Compania de Minas Buenaventura, a company he founded in 1953. Alberto's net worth as of March 2013 is $2 billion. He has retired from his company, though one of his two sons holds the position of company CEO, and the other sits on the board of directors. His wealth is likely to be willed to his five children.

9 Marcel Adams (Age: 92 - $1.1 billion)

Romanian born Marcel Adams, now a Canadian citizen, is also a self-made billionaire. His net worth as of March is $1.1 billion. Adams immigrated to Canada after the Second World War and started working in the leather industry in Quebec, also investing in the local real estate industry. He is currently one of Quebec’s largest landlords. He is the owner and manager of over 100 properties on 8 million square feet, including retail shopping centers and residential, office, and industrial property. Adams’ foundation,  the Adams Fellowship Program, is likely to be a benefactor of his will, alongside his four children and his grandchildren.

8 William Moncrief, Jr. (Age: 92 - $1 billion)

Unlike most billionaires on the list of the oldest rich people, William Moncrief Jr.'s journey to wealth was facilitated by his father, who discovered a 6-billion barrel oilfield in East Texas. He joined the business after school, his biggest break coming in January 2010 when he discovered "Davy Jones," an offshore field with 6 trillion cubic feet of gas. Moncrief was born in the United States, and resides in Fort Worth, Texas. His net worth is $1 billion, and he currently serves as the president of Moncrief Offshore LLC. He is a benefactor of University of Texas and Texas Christian University. After his death, a portion of his fortune will most likely continue to support these institutions, with the rest being left to his five children.

7  7. Karl Albrecht (Age: 92 - $26 billion)

German born Karl Albrecht is the owner of the huge German discount supermarket chain Aldi Sud, which he began with his brother Theo in 1913. With a net worth of $26 billion, Karl Albrecht is one of the richest men in the world, and the richest individual on this list. He generates his wealth from Aldi's 4,600 stores, which operate in nine different countries. Though Albrecht has retired from the Aldi business and from the advisory board, he is represented by his daughter and grandson on the board. Karl and his brother Theo donated a huge part of their fortune to charity upon their retirement in 1994, and his remaining fortune is likely to go to his two children.

6  6. Sulaiman Al Rajhi (Age: 93 - $6 billion)

Born in Al Bukairiyah, Saudi Arabia, Sulaiman Al Rajhi founded the Islamic bank “Al Rajhi” with his three brothers, and holds the largest stake. He is currently the bank's chairman, and maintaining a net worth of $6 billion as of March 2013. Sulaiman is a passionate philanthropist, focussing primarily is on the SAAR foundation that he formed to deal with hunger and education issues in Saudi Arabia. In May 2011, he pledge to donate a large part of his fortune to charity.

5  5. Anne Cox Chambers (Age: 93 - $13.5 billion)

American businesswoman Anne Cox Chambers is the majority owner of Cox Enterprises, a media company that was founded by her father, James Cox. A resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Anne has continued to grow the enterprise, which now owns a cable company, newspapers, TV stations, and numerous radio stations along with Manheim auctions for cars and AutoTrader.com. She continues to sit on the board of directors for Cox Enterprises, and has a personal net worth of $13.5 billion. Anne is an ardent supporter of the Democratic Party, to which she will likely donate a portion of her fortune, and will also bequeath large sums to her three children.

4  4. Henry Hillman (Age: 94 - $2.4 billion)

3  3. Karl Wlaschek (Age: 96 - $4.8 billion)

Austrian born Karl Wlaschek began his road to riches with the retail chain Billa, which is based in Austria. He then sold it in 1996 for $1 billion, and proceeded to invest in real estate. Now one of the largest real estate owners in Austria, Wlaschek runs KWPS Immobilien GmbH, which has approximately 250 properties to its name, including 8 palaces, 10 hotels, and a number of historic buildings in Vienna. His net worth as of March 2013 is $4.8 billion. Wlaschek established a sponsorship program to meet his brand's corporate social responsibility. In future, some of his fortune is likely to be diverted there, with the rest being inherited by his two children.

2  2. Kirk Kerkorian (Age: 96 - $3.1 billion)

The second oldest of the world’s billionaires is America businessman Kirk Kerkorian, who resides in Beverly Hills, California. Kerkorian’s primary business interests are in casinos, and the hotel and petroleum industries, which account for much of his estimated net worth of $3.1 billion. He owns a private investment firm named Tracinda, named for daughters Tracy and Linda, and is a major shareholder of MGM International Resorts. He stepped down from MGM resorts, but remains involved as director emeritus and senior adviser for the board. The likely beneficiaries of Kerkorian’s fortune are his two daughters, as well as the Lincy Foundation.

1  1. David Rockefeller, Sr. (Age: 98 - $2.8 billion)

Topping the list of the world's oldest billionaires is David Rockefeller, Sr. The principal heir to the Rockefeller family fortune created by John D. Rockefeller, an oil tycoon and advanced by his father, John D. Rockefeller Jr, David has stakes in the oil and banking industries, and is worth an estimated $2.8 billion. He worked at the Rockefeller family's Chase National Bank until his retirement in 1981. Since then, the known philanthropist has concentrated on real estate, international relations, and the arts. David has willed part of his fortune to Harvard University, where he studied. He also supports the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, to which a part of his fortune is likely to go, and will also leave money to other family foundations, and to his six children.

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