Alice Walton

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Alice Walton
Alice Walton (cropped).jpg
Walton in 2011
Alice Louise Walton

(1949-10-07) October 7, 1949 (age 69)[1]
ResidenceFort Worth, Texas
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationTrinity University[2]
Known forHeiress, Walton family fortune
Net worthUS$47 billion (November 2018)[3]
Board member ofAmon Carter Museum

Alice Louise Walton (born October 7, 1949) is an heir to the fortune of Walmart Inc. She is the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton and Helen Walton, and sister of S. Robson Walton, Jim Walton and the late John T. Walton.

In September 2016, she owned over US$11 billion in Walmart shares.[4] As of April 2019, she was ranked as the 18th-richest person in the world and the second richest woman (behind L'Oreal heir Francoise Bettencourt-Myers), with an estimated net worth of $45 billion.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Walton was born in Newport, Arkansas.[1] She was raised along with her 3 brothers in Bentonville, Arkansas and graduated from Bentonville HS in 1966. She graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in economics and finance.[6]


In her early career, Walton was an equity analyst and money manager for First Commerce Corporation[7] and headed investment activities at Arvest Bank Group.[8] She was also a broker for EF Hutton.[6] In 1988, Walton founded Llama Company, an investment bank, where she was president, chairwoman and CEO.[7][8]

Walton was the first person to chair the Northwest Arkansas Council and played a major role in the development of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, which opened in 1998.[9] At the time, the business and civic leaders of Northwest Arkansas Council found a need for the $109 million regional airport in their corner of the state.[10] Walton provided $15 million in initial funding for construction.[10] Her company, Llama Company, underwrote a $79.5 million bond.[10] The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority recognized Walton's contributions to the creation of the airport and named the terminal the Alice L. Walton Terminal Building.[11] She was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.[12]

In the late 1990s, Llama Co. closed and, in 1998, Walton moved to a ranch in Millsap, Texas, named Walton's Rocking W Ranch.[6][13][14] An avid horse-lover, she was known for having an eye for determining which 2-month-olds would grow to be champion cutters.[15] Walton listed the farm for sale in 2015 and moved to Fort Worth, Texas, citing the need to focus on the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Bentonville, Arkansas, art museum she founded that opened in 2011.[16][17][18]

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."[9]


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.[9] 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, was and 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, Walton purchased art sold from the collection of Daniel Fraad and Rita Fraad at Sotheby's, in New York.[9]

In 2005, Walton purchased Asher Brown Durand's celebrated painting, Kindred Spirits, in a sealed-bid auction for a purported US$35 million.[19] 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).[20] 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,[21] in preparation for the opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.[22]In 2009, Alice Walton added Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter" to the Crystal Bridges permanent collection for $4.9 million.[23]

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.[24] Walton's attempt to quit smoking led to the purchase of a painting reminiscent of an earlier painting by John Singer Sargent by Alfred Maurer which depicts a full-length woman smoking.[25] The second painting was by Tom Wesselmann is titled "Smoker #9[26]," and depicts a hyper realistic, disembodied hand and mouth smoking a cigarette.[27]

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?"[9]

Political contributions[edit]

Alice Walton was the 20th-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.[28] 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.[29] Despite hailing from a largely Republican family, Alice donated $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee supporting Clinton and other Democrats, in 2016.[30] The two women met while Clinton was serving as First Lady of Arkansas and was the only woman sitting on Walmart's board.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Walton married a prominent Louisiana investment banker in 1974 at age 24, but they were divorced 2½ years later. According to Forbes Magazine, she married "the contractor who built her swimming pool" soon after, "but they too quickly divorced".[9][31][32]

Walton has been involved in multiple automobile accidents, one of them fatal. She lost control of a rented Jeep during a 1983 Thanksgiving family reunion near Acapulco and plunged into a ravine, shattering her leg. She was airlifted out of Mexico and underwent more than two dozen surgeries; she suffers lingering pain from her injuries.[6][33] In April 1989, she struck and killed 50 year-old Oleta Hardin, who had stepped onto a road in Fayetteville, Arkansas.[32] Witnesses stated that Walton was speeding at the time, but no charges were filed.[33] In 1998, she hit a gas meter while driving under the influence of alcohol. She paid a $925 fine.[32][34]


  1. ^ a b Tedlow, Richard S. (July 23, 2001). "Sam Walton: Great From the Start". Harvard Business School.
  2. ^ a b "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "ALICE L WALTON Insider Trading Overview". Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  5. ^ "Alice Walton". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  6. ^ a b c d O'Connor, Clair (October 7, 2013). "Inside the World of Walmart Billionaire Alice Walton, America's Richest Art Collector". Forbes.
  7. ^ a b Hosticka, Alexis (24 August 2015). "Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame: Alice walton". Arkansas Business. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b Gill, Todd (16 February 2012). "Alice Walton to receive honorary degree from the University of Arkansas". Fayetteville Flyer. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Mead, Rebecca (June 27, 2011). "Alice's Wonderland: A Walmart Heiress Builds a Museum in the Ozarks". The New Yorker.
  10. ^ a b c "Group to consider naming airport terminal after Wal-Mart heiress". The Associated Press. 8 August 1999. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Airport board names terminal after Alice Walton". The Associated Press. 13 August 1999. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  12. ^ Cottingham, Jan (29 March 2010). "Alice Walton: Working to bring the world to Arkansas' door". Arkansas Business. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  13. ^ Paul, Steve (10 December 2006). "Alice Walton's big picture: The Wal-Mart heir turns her eye, and her money, to art collecting". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Wal-Mart heiress loves cutting horses". Associated Press. 19 December 1999. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  15. ^ Paul, Steven (November 19, 2006). "Alice L. Walton, Making a Grand Dream a Reality: The Jet-Setter Is Parlaying Her Wealth into a Hometown Museum". The Kansas City Star.
  16. ^ Baker, Max B. (1 July 2016). "Alice Walton cuts prices on two ranch properties". Star-Telegram. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  17. ^ Sherman, Erik (17 September 2015). "Wal-Mart heiress selling these 'iconic' ranches for $48 million". Fortune. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  18. ^ "Wal-Mart heiress brings art museum to the Ozarks". NPR. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  19. ^ Vogel, Carol (2005-05-13). "New York Public Library's Durand Painting Sold to Wal-Mart Heiress". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  20. ^ "Asher B. Durand's 'Kindred Spirits'". Exhibitions. National Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on 2007-01-28. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  21. ^ Solnit, Rebecca (March 6, 2006). "Alice Walton's Fig Leaf". The Nation.
  22. ^ Crystal Bridges website Archived October 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Vogel, Carol (2011-06-16). "Alice Walton on Her Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  24. ^ Vogel, Carol (June 16, 2011). "A Billionaire's Eye for Art Shapes Her Singular Museum". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Mead, Rebecca (2011-06-20). "Alice's Wonderland". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  26. ^ "Smoker #9". Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  27. ^ Mead, Rebecca (2011-06-20). "Alice's Wonderland". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  28. ^ Overfelt, David (2006). Building Wal-Mart with resistance: community political action against a new Wal-Mart supercenter (Thesis thesis). University of Missouri--Columbia.
  29. ^ "Have the Waltons chosen their nominee? Sure looks like it!". The Walmart 1%. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  30. ^ "Walmart's Walton family backing Clinton". Washington Examiner. 2016-09-07. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  31. ^ "Alice Walton Profile". Forbes. March 1, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  32. ^ a b c O'Connor, Clair (October 7, 2013). "Inside the World of Walmart Billionaire Alice Walton, America's Richest Art Collector". Forbes.
  33. ^ a b 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.
  34. ^ "The Woman Who Put the Art in Wal-Mart". The Independent. London. November 8, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2011.

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