Alice Walton

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Alice Walton
Alice Walton (cropped).jpg
Walton in 2011
Born Alice Louise Walton
(1949-10-07) October 7, 1949 (age 67)[1]
Newport, Arkansas, U.S.
Residence Mineral Wells, Texas
Citizenship United States
Education Trinity University[2]
Known for Heiress, Walton family fortune
Net worth Decrease US$40.8 billion (December 2016)[2]
Board member of Amon Carter Museum
Spouse(s) Divorced[2]
Parent(s) Sam Walton, Helen Walton

Alice Louise Walton (born October 7, 1949) is an American heiress to the fortune of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. She is the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and Helen Walton, and sister of S. Robson Walton, Jim Walton and the late John T. Walton. With a net worth of $40.8 billion she is the second wealthiest woman on earth, according to Forbes. In September 2016 she was reported to own over US$ 11 billion in Walmart shares.[3] She has been arrested multiple times for driving while intoxicated, and in 1989, she was involved in the speeding death of a 50-year-old woman, Oleta Hardin, a cannery worker, but no charges were filed.[4][5]

Education and career[edit]

Walton was born in Newport, Arkansas.[1] She graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in economics and finance. She began her career in finance as an equity analyst and money manager for First Commerce Corporation and later served as vice chairperson and head of all investment-related activities at the Arvest Bank Group. In 1988, Walton founded Llama Company, an investment bank engaged in corporate finance, public and structured finance, real estate finance and sales and trading. She served as President, Chairperson and CEO. For a time, she was a broker for E.F. Hutton.

She was the first chairperson and driving force behind the Northwest Arkansas Council. This community development organization played a major role in securing the development of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. Walton arranged for and provided the initial seed capital to finance the construction of the airport. Her involvement was instrumental in the creation of the airport, and in recognition of her contribution to the airport project and her support of transportation improvements throughout the region, the Airport Authority Board of Directors named the airport terminal the Alice L. Walton Terminal Building. In 2001, Walton was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame.

In the late 1990s, Walton closed Llama Company and moved to a 3,200-acre (1,300 ha) ranch in Millsap, Texas, named Walton's Rocking W Ranch.[6] An avid horse-lover, Walton currently lives in a sprawling one-story, 4,432-square-foot (411.7 m2), stucco house on the horse ranch. She is known for having an eye for determining which 2-month-olds will grow to be champion cutters.[7]

In his 1992 autobiography Made in America, Sam Walton remarked that Alice was "the most like me—a maverick—but even more volatile than I am."[8]


Walton purchased her first piece of art when she was about ten years old. It was a reproduction of Picasso's Blue Nude she got from her father's Ben Franklin Dime-Store. She and her mother would often paint watercolors on camping trips.[8] Her interest in art led to her spearheading the Walton Family Foundation's involvement in developing Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the heart of Bentonville, Arkansas. Crystal Bridges, opened in November 2011, is envisioned as a premier venue for a national art institution dedicated to American art and artists, and a place of learning and community.

In December 2004, the art collection of Daniel Fraad and wife, Rita, went up for public auction at Sotheby's in New York. Since almost every collector was at the auction, no one could figure out who on the phone was bidding such high prices. It was later discovered that Walton purchased at least $20 million worth of art that day. She bid for most of the items while on a three-year-old gelding named IC LAD preparing to compete in the first qualifying round of the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Ft. Worth, Texas.[8]

In 2005, Walton purchased Asher Brown Durand's celebrated painting, Kindred Spirits, in a sealed-bid auction for a purported US$35 million. The 1849 painting, a tribute to Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole, had been given to the New York Public Library in 1904 by Julia Bryant, the daughter of Romantic poet and New York newspaper publisher William Cullen Bryant (who is depicted in the painting with Cole).[9] She has also purchased works by American painters Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper, as well as a notable portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale,[10] in preparation for the opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.[11] In 2009 at an undisclosed price, Crystal Bridges museum acquired Norman Rockwell's iconic "Rosie the Riveter" painting for its permanent collection.[12]

John Wilmerding, an advisor and board member to Crystal Bridges said Walton has collected the work of some artists in depth, quietly buying substantial bodies of work by Martin Johnson Heade, Stuart Davis, George Bellows and John Singer Sargent.[13] Walton's attempt to quit smoking led to the purchase of two great smoking paintings by Alfred Maurer and Tom Wesselman. In a 2011 interview, she spoke about acquiring great works by other artists. She described Marsden Hartley as "one of my favorite artists-he was a very complex guy, somewhat tormented, but a very spiritual person, and love the emotion and the feel and the spirituality of his work". She went on to say "and Andrew Wyeth-the mystery and loneliness that is expressed. How do you paint loneliness?"[8]

Political contributions[edit]

She was the twentieth largest individual contributor to 527 committees in the U.S. presidential election 2004, donating US$2.6 million to the conservative Progress for America group. During the 2004 election cycle, Progress for America ran advertisements supporting the Iraq war and praising George W. Bush for preventing "another 9/11". As of January 2012, Walton had contributed $200,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC associated with Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.[14]

Personal life[edit]

At age 24, Walton was first married in 1974 to a prominent Louisiana investment banker, but the two were divorced two and a half years later. Shortly thereafter she married a contractor who built her swimming pool, but they too quickly divorced.[8][15][16]


Main article: Walton family

One of her brothers, John T. Walton, died in a 2005 plane crash, and is survived by his wife Christy Walton. She is a first cousin of Ann Walton Kroenke, Nancy Walton Laurie, and Sybil Robson Orr. Her two brothers, Rob Walton and Jim Walton, still survive.

Sam Walton was her father, Helen Walton was her mother, and James "Bud" Walton was her uncle.

Automobile incidents[edit]

Walton has been involved in at least four automobile incidents, one of them being fatal. During a 1983 Thanksgiving family reunion near Acapulco, Mexico, Walton lost control of a rented Jeep and plunged into a ravine, shattering her leg. She was airlifted out of Mexico and underwent more than two dozen surgeries; she is said to suffer lingering pain from her injuries. In an April 1989 incident, she struck and killed 50-year-old Oleta Hardin, who had stepped onto a road. Witnesses stated that Walton was speeding at the time of the accident, but no charges were filed.[17] In a 1998 incident, she was reported to have hit a gas meter while driving under the influence. She paid a $925 fine and served no jail time.[16][18]

On October 7, 2011, her 62nd birthday, she was again arrested for driving while intoxicated in Weatherford, Texas, after a dinner with friends in Fort Worth. Walton's attorney released a statement acknowledging the incident and expressing regret.[19][20] The charges were dropped by Texas prosecutors in September 2013 without formal charges being filed.[21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tedlow, Richard S. (July 23, 2001). "Sam Walton: Great From the Start". Harvard Business School. 
  2. ^ a b c "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "ALICE L WALTON Insider Trading Overview". Retrieved 2016-09-20. 
  4. ^ "Walmart heiress Walton arrested on, takes responsibility for, DWI charge". Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Serwer, Andy (November 15, 2004). "The Waltons Inside America's Richest Family". Fortune. Archived from the original on October 24, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2010. 
  7. ^ Paul, Steven (November 19, 2006). "Alice L. Walton, Making a Grand Dream a Deality: The Jet-Setter Is Parlaying Her Wealth into a Hometown Museum". The Kansas City Star. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Mead, Rebecca (June 27, 2011). "Alice's Wonderland: A Walmart Heiress Builds a Museum in the Ozarks". The New Yorker. 
  9. ^ "Asher B. Durand's 'Kindred Spirits'". Exhibitions. National Gallery of Art. 
  10. ^ Solnit, Rebecca (March 6, 2006). "Alice Walton's Fig Leaf". The Nation. 
  11. ^ Crystal Bridges website Archived October 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Rosie the Riveter Archived February 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Vogel, Carol (June 16, 2011). "A Billionaire's Eye for Art Shapes Her Singular Museum". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ "Have the Waltons chosen their nominee? Sure looks like it!". The Walmart 1%. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Alice Walton Profile". Forbes. March 1, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b O'Connor, Clair (October 7, 2013). "Inside the World of Walmart Billionaire Alice Walton, America's Richest Art Collector". Forbes. 
  17. ^ Ortega, Bob (1999). In Sam We Trust: The Untold Story of Sam Walton and How Wal-Mart Is Devouring the World. Kogan Page Publishers. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0-7494-3177-8. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Woman Who Put the Art in Wal-Mart". The Independent. London. November 8, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2011. 
  19. ^ O'Connor, Maureen (October 13, 2011). "Billionaire Walmart Heiress Arrested for DWI". Gawker. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  20. ^ Coyne, Christin (October 13, 2011). "Walmart Heiress Walton Arrested on, Takes Responsibility for, DWI Charge". Mineral Wells Index. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Texas Prosecutor Drops Drunken Driving Charge against Wal-Mart Heiress Alice Walton". Fox News. Associated Press. September 10, 2013. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 
  22. ^ Miller, Bill (September 10, 2013). "Parker County Officials Won't Pursue 2011 DWI Case against Walton". Star-Telegram. Fort Worth, Texas. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 

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