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 72)[1]
EducationTrinity University[2]
Known forHeiress, Walton family fortune
Board member ofAmon Carter Museum

Alice Louise Walton (born October 7, 1949) is an American heiress to the fortune of Walmart. In September 2016, she owned over US$11 billion in Walmart shares.[3] As of August 2021, Walton has a net worth of $62.3 billion, making her the 17th-richest person, and the second richest woman in the world according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Walton was born in Newport, Arkansas.[1] She was raised along with her three brothers in Bentonville, Arkansas and graduated from Bentonville High School in 1966. She graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in economics.[5]


Early in her career, Walton was an equity analyst and money manager for First Commerce Corporation[6] and headed investment activities at Arvest Bank Group.[7] She was also a broker for EF Hutton.[5] In 1988, Walton founded Llama Company, an investment bank, where she was president, chairwoman and CEO.[6][7]

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.[8] 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.[9] Walton provided $15 million in initial funding for construction.[9] Her company, Llama Company, underwrote a $79.5 million bond.[9] 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.[10] She was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.[11]

In the late 1990s, Llama Co. closed, and in 1998, Walton moved to a ranch in Millsap, Texas, named Walton's Rocking W Ranch.[5][12][13] An avid horse-lover, she was known for having an eye for determining which 2-month-olds would grow to be champion cutters.[14] 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.[15][16][17]

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 and her mother would often paint watercolors on camping trips.[8] Her interest in art led to the Walton Family Foundation developing the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

In December 2004, Walton purchased art sold from the collection of Daniel Fraad and Rita Fraad at Sotheby's, in New York.[8]

In 2005, Walton purchased Asher Brown Durand's celebrated painting, Kindred Spirits, in a sealed-bid auction for a purported US$35 million.[18] 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.[19] 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,[20] in preparation for the opening of Crystal Bridges.[21] In 2009, Walton acquired Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter" for $4.9 million.[22]

Walton's attempt to quit smoking inspired her to purchase a painting reminiscent of an earlier painting by John Singer Sargent by Alfred Maurer which depicts a full-length woman smoking.[23] Another painting, by Tom Wesselmann, is titled "Smoker #9[24]" and depicts a hyper realistic, disembodied hand and mouth smoking a cigarette.[23]

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]

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.[25] As of January 2012, Walton had contributed $200,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC associated with Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.[26] Alice donated $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee supporting Clinton and other Democrats, in 2016.[27] In 2016, Walton and other Walmart heirs donated $407 million in Walmart shares to a Family Trust which finances its philanthropy.[28]

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, she married "the contractor who built her swimming pool" soon after, "but they, too, divorced quickly".[8][29][5]

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.[5][30] In April 1989, she struck and killed 50-year-old Oleta Hardin, who had stepped onto a road in Fayetteville, Arkansas.[5] Witnesses stated that Walton was speeding at the time, but no charges were filed.[30] In 1998, she hit a gas meter while driving under the influence of alcohol. She paid a $925 fine.[5][31]


  1. ^ a b Tedlow, Richard S. (July 23, 2001). "Sam Walton: Great From the Start". Harvard Business School.
  2. ^ "Forbes profile: Alice Walton". Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  3. ^ "ALICE L WALTON Insider Trading Overview". Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  4. ^ "Bloomberg Billionaires Index: Alice Walton". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g O'Connor, Clair (October 7, 2013). "Inside the World of Walmart Billionaire Alice Walton, America's Richest Art Collector". Forbes.
  6. ^ a b Hosticka, Alexis (24 August 2015). "Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame: Alice walton". Arkansas Business. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b Gill, Todd (16 February 2012). "Alice Walton to receive honorary degree from the University of Arkansas". Fayetteville Flyer. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b c "Group to consider naming airport terminal, after Wal-Mart heiress". The Associated Press. 8 August 1999. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Airport board names terminal after Alice Walton". The Associated Press. 13 August 1999. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  11. ^ Cottingham, Jan (29 March 2010). "Alice Walton: Working to bring the world to Arkansas' door". Arkansas Business. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Wal-Mart heiress loves cutting horses". Associated Press. 19 December 1999. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Baker, Max B. (1 July 2016). "Alice Walton cuts prices on two ranch properties". Star-Telegram. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  16. ^ Sherman, Erik (17 September 2015). "Wal-Mart heiress selling these 'iconic' ranches for $48 million". Fortune. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  17. ^ "Wal-Mart heiress brings art museum to the Ozarks". NPR. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Asher B. Durand's 'Kindred Spirits'". Exhibitions. National Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on 2007-01-28. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  20. ^ Solnit, Rebecca (March 6, 2006). "Alice Walton's Fig Leaf". The Nation.
  21. ^ Crystal Bridges website Archived October 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ a b Mead, Rebecca (2011-06-20). "Alice's Wonderland". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  24. ^ "Smoker #9". Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  25. ^ Overfelt, David (2006). Building Wal-Mart with resistance: community political action against a new Wal-Mart supercenter (Thesis thesis). University of Missouri--Columbia.
  26. ^ "Have the Waltons chosen their nominee? Sure looks like it!". The Walmart 1%. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Walmart's Walton family backing Clinton". Washington Examiner. 2016-09-07. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  28. ^ "America's Richest Family Gave Away $407 Million in Walmart Shares". Forbes. 2016-01-04. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  29. ^ "Alice Walton Profile". Forbes. March 1, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ "The Woman Who Put the Art in Wal-Mart". The Independent. London. November 8, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2011.

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