The Walton family empire: Inside the relatively modest lives of the Walmart heirs

the walton family walmart
the walton family walmart

The siblings all together.AP/April L. Brown

  • The Walmart heirs' combined worth is roughly $234 billion, according to Bloomberg.

  • The family grants money and resources to support education, environmental efforts, and their home community through the Walton Family Foundation.

  • In public, the Waltons live pretty modest lifestyles despite their wealth. Here's how they spend their fortune.

The combined wealth of the Walmart heirs — which includes Rob, Jim, and Alice, as well as John's wife, Christy, and their son Lukas — is roughly $234 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaire Index.

While some work in the family business — whether that's serving on the company board or working to manage the family's wealth — others chose to pursue areas of personal passion.

Sam Walton, the original man behind the company that now encompasses both Walmart and Sam's Club, set his family up for financial success when he divided the ownership before he died.

He wasn't a man of flashy luxury, but you can see how his children are living a slightly more lavish life now.

Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in Arkansas in 1962.

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Sam Walton wearing an original Wal-Mart name tag.Associated Press

He married Helen Robson on Valentine's Day in 1942, and together they had four children: Rob, John, Jim, and Alice.

Helen Robson
The couple had a romantic Valentine's Day wedding.April L. Brown/Associated Press

By the time Sam died in 1992, he had set up the company ownership in a way that minimized the estate taxes anyone on the receiving end of his will had to pay.

Walton family
Sam was very organized with his finances.Rick Wilking/Reuters

Source: Fortune

He set up his ownership of Walmart's stock in a family partnership — each of his children held 20% of Walton Enterprises, while he and Helen each held 10%. Helen inherited Sam's 10% tax-free when he died.

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The stocks were carefully divided among the family.Courtesy of Walmart

Source: Fortune

Samuel Robson "Rob" Walton is the oldest Walton child.

Rob Walton
Rob served as chairman of Walmart for many years.Reuters

He served as chairman of Walmart until 2015.

Rob Walton Walmart
He retired in June 2015 but remained a director.Rick T. Wilking / Stringer / Getty Images

Rob recently made a splash by leading an ownership group to buy the Denver Broncos.

Denver Broncos
The team is having a rough 2022 season.Joe Mahoney/AP

His ownership group, which includes his daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and son-in-law, Greg Penner, purchased the NFL team for a record $4.65 billion in summer 2022.

Denver Broncos fans
Empower Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado.Getty Images

Rob has a house in Paradise Valley, Arizona, near the base of Camelback Mountain.

Paradise Valley Arizona
The beautiful Paradise Valley, Arizona.Tim Roberts Photography/Shutterstock

In the past, protesters have rallied outside of his Arizona home to advocate for better wages and benefits for Walmart workers.

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Protesters at a Walmart in Boynton Beach, Florida.J Pat Carter/Associated Press

Rob also has a large collection of vintage cars.

vintage cars
Walton's personal collection not pictured.Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

In 2013, he ran his Daytona Coupe, which was worth $15 million at the time, off the tracks and wrecked it. The car was one of only five ever made.

Daytona Coupe
The car was totaled in the crash.AP Photo/Tom Mihalek

John was the second-oldest child. He died in a plane crash in 2005.

John Walton
John (right) with his mother (center) and brother, Rob (left).April L. Brown/Associated Press

He was married to Christy Walton and had one son, Lukas.

Lukas Walton
Lukas is now 36 years old.Walton Family Foundation/YouTube

John left about 17% of his wealth to his wife, and he gave the rest to charity and to his son.

Christy Walton
John was very charitable.AP

Source: Business Insider

John served in Vietnam as a Green Beret. When he returned from the war he held a series of jobs — like the Walmart company pilot, a crop duster, and the owner a few yachting companies — before becoming a Walmart board member.

John T Walton
John (second from left) pictured with members of his family.AP Photo/Spencer Tirey

Source: Fortune

In 2013, Christy decided to sell their Jackson Hole mansion. She also sold the family's ranch for an undisclosed price in 2016 after listing it for $100 million in 2011.

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The family's Jackson Hole mansion.Jackson Hole Real Estate

Source: Curbed and Ranch Marketing Associates

The 8,606-square-foot home was put on the market for $12.5 million.

Walton Jackson Hole Mansion
An aerial view of the mansion.Google Maps

Source: Curbed

James "Jim" Walton is the youngest son.

Jim Walton
Jim Walton is now 73 years old.Walmart

He is chairman of the board of the family's Arvest Bank, which has assets that total more than $26 billion.

Arvest
One of many Arvest Bank locations in Bentonville, Arkansas.Google Maps

Source: Bloomberg

He also served on the Walmart board before being replaced by his son Steuart in 2016.

Jim Walton
Jim served on the board for more than a decade.Rick T. Wilking /Stringer/Getty

Now, he presides over Walton Enterprises — the private company that deals with the investments and finances of the Walton family only — from modest offices in Bentonville, Arkansas.

walton enterprises inc
Jim now manages the family's finances.Google Maps

Source: Fortune

The youngest sibling, Alice Walton, is worth $65.6 billion, according to Bloomberg. She has been divorced twice and has no children.

Alice Walton
Alice is passionate about collecting art.AP/April L. Brown

Alice has never taken an active role in running the family business.

Alice Walton (Jim out of focus)
Alice Walton with Jim Walton in 2013.REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Instead, she became a patron of the arts, which she fell in love with at a young age.

Alice Walton
Alice followed her passion and devoted her life to collecting art.D Dipasupil/Getty Images

When she was 10, she bought her first work of art: a reproduction of Picasso's "Blue Nude" for about $2, she told The New Yorker.

Picasso Blue Room
Picasso's "The Blue Room."Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Source: The New Yorker

She has an immense private art collection, with original works from Andy Warhol and Georgia O'Keeffe.

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Alice has built a massive collection.AP Images/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Alice opened a museum in Bentonville called Crystal Bridges in 2011 to house her $500 million private art collection.

crystal bridges calder
The museum displays both paintings and sculptures, like this one by Alexander Calder (center).Danny Johnston/Associated Press

The collection includes a Georgia O'Keeffe painting that Alice spent $44.4 million on in 2014 — the biggest sale for a woman's piece of art in history.

Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe, "Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1" (1932), Sotheby's.Courtesy of Sotheby's

Source: The Observer

When it opened, Crystal Bridges had four times the endowment of the famous Whitney Museum in New York.

whitney
A view of the Whitney Museum from the High Line.Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

The museum's grounds are filled with flora ...

Crystal Bridges
The lucious gardens outside the museum.Danny Johnston/Associated Press

... and surrounded by streams that make it look like the buildings float on water.

WALMART MEETING CRYSTALBRIDGES.JPG
The serene setting of the museum.Jacob Slaton/Reuters

It's so beautiful that people use it as a wedding and special-events venue.

Crystal Bridges wedding
It can host both indoor and outdoor ceremonies.Weddings at Crystal Bridges/YouTube

Source: Crystal Bridges

Alice is also a breeder of horses.

FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2013, file photo, mustangs recently captured on federal rangeland roam a corral at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's holding facility north of Reno, in Palomino, Nev. Two House committee chairmen are trying to put the brakes on money for a new Trump administration proposal to accelerate the capture of 130,000 wild horses across the West over the next 10 years. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner, File)
Besides art, she loves spending time with horses.Associated Press

Her Millsap, Texas, property, Rocking W Ranch, sold to the Three Amigos Investment Group of Kermit, Texas, in September 2017 for an undisclosed amount.

Rocking W Ranch
Her property was elegantly decorated.Courtesy of WilliamsTrew

Source: Star-Telegram

It had an initial asking price of $19.75 million, which was reduced to $16.5 million. The working ranch had over 250 acres of pasture and outbuildings for cattle and horses.

Rocking W Ranch
It was also next to a large lake.Courtesy of WilliamsTrew

Source: WilliamsTrew

Her other, 4,416-acre Texas ranch was previously listed at a reduced price of $22 million.

Fortune bend ranch
A huge firepit was built in the backyard.Courtesy of WilliamsTrew

Source: Fortune

The modest, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home overlooks the Brazos River.

sunset boca chica brazos island south texas dave mosher business insider DCM_1613
A sunset near Brazos River.Dave Mosher/Business Insider

Alice also owns a two-floor condo on New York's Park Ave., which she bought for $25 million in 2014.

park avenue new york
Park Avenue pictured above at night.Getty Images/Arata Photography

Source: Business Insider

It has more than 52 large windows overlooking Central Park plus a media room, a winding staircase, and more than 6,000 total square feet of space.

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View of Central Park from the southeast.evenfh/Shutterstock

Source: Business Insider

In January 2016, Alice donated 3.7 million of her Walmart shares — worth about $225 million at the time — to the family's nonprofit, the Walton Family Foundation.

Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation website.Facebook/Walton Family Foundation

Sam and Helen started the foundation as a way to teach their children how to give back and how to work together.

Sam and Helen Walton
The children learned from an early age to be generous with their money.Walton Family Foundation/YouTube

The charity awards millions of dollars in grants, each helping a cause that aligns with the foundation's values. According to its website, the foundation awarded $749.5 million in grants in 2020.

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Alice Walton.Walton Family Foundation/YouTube

The foundation has three main areas of focus:

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A project put on by the Walton Family Foundation.Walton Family Foundation/YouTube

The foundation's focus on education was led by John. His brother Jim said John was really interested in being able to give parents choices when it came to their child's schooling.

John Walton
The foundation was dedicated to supporting children's education.Walton Family Foundation/YouTube

Source: Walton Family Foundation

Rob spearheaded the foundation's venture into environmental outreach. One of the first grants they gave helped develop a sustainable fisheries label.

Walton Family Foundation
Rob launched the environmental and sustainability branch of the foundation.Walton Family Foundation/YouTube

Source: Walton Family Foundation

A commitment to the family's home of Arkansas is another large part of the foundation. Whether it's creating a system of mountain-bike trails through the Ozarks or developing the grounds around Crystal Bridges, the Waltons are celebrating the community that helped their family get to where they are.

Home Range arkansas
The Bentonville town square.Walton Family Foundation/YouTube

Source: Walton Family Foundation

Walmart Inc., which owns Walmart and Sam's Club, is the largest retailer in the US in terms of revenue, with sales of roughly $573 billion per year.

walmart 1
The storefront of a Walmart.Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Source: Fortune

When Walmart has a good quarter, the Waltons make hundreds of millions of dollars in dividends.

the walton family walmart
The siblings all together.AP/April L. Brown

Source: Forbes and The Guardian

The company reported in November 2022 that third-quarter same-store sales in the US had risen 8.2% compared with the year prior.

walmart black friday
Shoppers leaving Walmart with lots of gifts.AP/Gunnar Rathbun

Source: Walmart

Even though the Walton family is raking in billions as a result of the company's success, they remain relatively under-the-radar in terms of flashing their wealth — much like their patriarch, Sam, did in the early years.

walmart mexico
JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Fortune

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