Alice Louise Walton (born October 7, 1949) is an American heiress to the fortune of Walmart as daughter of founder Sam Walton. In September 2016, she owned over $11 billion in Walmart shares.[3] As of November 2023, Walton has a net worth of $71 billion, making her the 17th richest person and the second-richest woman in the world according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after Françoise Bettencourt Meyers.[4]

Alice Walton
Walton in 2021
Alice Louise Walton

(1949-10-07) October 7, 1949 (age 74)[1]
EducationTrinity University (BA)[2]
Known forHeiress, Walton family fortune
Board member ofAmon Carter Museum of American Art

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]

Career edit

Walton at the 2011 Walmart Shareholders meeting

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, and 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]

Llama Company closed in 1998.[12]

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]

Art edit

Walton and her mother would often paint watercolors on camping trips.[8] The first piece of art Walton purchased was a print of Picasso's Blue Nude when she was ten years old; it cost her 5 weeks allowance.[13] Her first museum quality artwork purchase was of two Winslow Homer watercolors in the late 1980s.[13]

In December 2004, Walton purchased art sold from the collection of Daniel 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.[14] 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.[15] 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,[16] in preparation for the opening of Crystal Bridges.[17] In 2009, Walton acquired Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter" for $4.9 million.[18]

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.[8] Another painting, by Tom Wesselmann, titled "Smoker #9"[19] depicts a hyper realistic, disembodied hand and mouth smoking a cigarette.[8]

In a 2011 interview, she spoke about acquiring great works by other artists, including Marsden Hartley and Andrew Wyeth, saying that she loved the emotion and spirituality they expressed.[8] Other artists whose work Walton has purchased include Georgia O'Keeffe, Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, Kehinde Wiley, and Titus Kaphar.[20]

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

Walton's interest in art led to the Walton Family Foundation developing the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The architect Moshe Safdie designed the 200,000 square foot museum, which was built on 120 acres of Walton family land. Crystal Bridges opened in 2011 and has been visited more than 5 million times as of 2021. It is free to attend. Walton says her motivation for the museum was to give access to art to people who had never had it.[21][20]

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.[22] As of January 2012, Walton had contributed $200,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC associated with Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.[23] Walton donated $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee supporting Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, in 2016.[24]

Philanthropy edit

In 2016, Walton donated $225 million among a total $407 million from Walmart heirs to the Walton Family Holdings Trust, which finances the family's philanthropy.[25]

Walton formed the Alice L. Walton Foundation in 2017.[26][21] The foundation promotes arts, education, health, and improving economic opportunity.[26] In 2020, the foundation gave the University of Central Arkansas $3 million in funding for its fine arts program.[27] That year, the foundation also gave a $1.28 million grant to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to expand its program to provide healthy food in schools.[28] In 2022, Walton's foundation gave a $3.5 million grant to the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank: $3 million to support construction of a food distribution center, and $500,000 to buy and distribute food.[29]

Also in 2017, Walton formed the Art Bridges Foundation. It partners with small and regional museums with less access to cultural resources. The foundation provides funding, collection loans and traveling exhibits, and creates art programs with museums. Walton has said her goal is to reduce the amount of art kept in storage. As of September 2021, the foundation had approximately 30 exhibits traveling throughout the United States.[21] The Arts Bridges Fellows Program provides opportunities for people from historically underrepresented groups to work with its museum partners. Additionally, Walton has given $10 million to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and partnered with the Ford Foundation through Art Bridges to fund programs to improve diversity in arts leadership.[30][26]

Healthcare edit

In 2019, Walton established the Whole Health Institute. The institute works with health systems, employers and communities to build and expand access to holistic healthcare.[26] In March 2021, Walton announced that the institute would build a nonprofit medical school in Bentonville called the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine. The school will focus on allopathic medicine and graduates will receive a doctor of medicine degree.[31] The campus will be located near Crystal Bridges. Construction is expected to begin in 2023, with the first class enrolling in 2025, pending accreditation.[32]

In 2021, the Alice L. Walton Foundation partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to evaluate health care in Northwest Arkansas. Following that evaluation, in 2022, the foundation and Washington Regional Medical System announced plans to create a nonprofit medical system aimed at training doctors in specialty care fields such as oncology, cardiology, and neurology.[33]

Personal life edit

Walton married a prominent Louisiana investment banker in 1974 at age 24. They were divorced two and a half years later. According to Forbes, she married "the contractor who built her swimming pool" soon after, "but they, too, divorced quickly".[8][34][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] In April 1989, she struck and killed 50-year-old Oleta Hardin, who had stepped onto a road in Fayetteville, Arkansas.[5] In 1998, she hit a gas meter while driving under the influence of alcohol. She paid a $925 fine.[5][35]

In 1998, Walton moved to a ranch in Millsap, Texas, named Walton's Rocking W Ranch.[5][36][37] An avid horse-lover, she was known for having an eye for determining which 2-month-olds would grow to be champion cutters.[38] 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.[39][40][41] She moved back to Bentonville in 2020.[42]

Recognition edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Tedlow, Richard S. (July 23, 2001). "Sam Walton: Great From the Start". Harvard Business School.
  2. ^ "Forbes profile: Alice Walton". Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  3. ^ "Alice L Walton Insider Trading Overview". Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  4. ^ "Bloomberg Billionaires Index: Alice Walton". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved November 5, 2023.
  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 (August 24, 2015). "Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame: Alice walton". Arkansas Business. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Gill, Todd (February 16, 2012). "Alice Walton to receive honorary degree from the University of Arkansas". Fayetteville Flyer. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Mead, Rebecca (June 27, 2011). "Alice's Wonderland: A Walmart Heiress Builds a Museum in the Ozarks". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Group to consider naming airport terminal, after Wal-Mart heiress". The Associated Press. August 8, 1999. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  10. ^ "Airport board names terminal after Alice Walton". The Associated Press. August 13, 1999. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Cottingham, Jan (March 29, 2010). "Alice Walton: Working to bring the world to Arkansas' door". Arkansas Business. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Serwer, Andy (November 15, 2004). "THE WALTONS/ INSIDE AMERICA'S RICHEST FAMILY". Fortune. Archived from the original on December 15, 2022. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Malle, Chloe (October 26, 2021). "How Alice Walton is Bringing the Art World to Bentonville, Arkansas". Town & Country Magazine. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  14. ^ Vogel, Carol (May 13, 2005). "New York Public Library's Durand Painting Sold to Wal-Mart Heiress". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  15. ^ "Asher B. Durand's 'Kindred Spirits'". Exhibitions. National Gallery of Art. Archived from the original on January 28, 2007. Retrieved January 29, 2007.
  16. ^ Solnit, Rebecca (March 6, 2006). "Alice Walton's Fig Leaf". The Nation. Archived from the original on November 17, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  17. ^ Crystal Bridges website Archived October 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Vogel, Carol (June 16, 2011). "Alice Walton on Her Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  19. ^ "Smoker #9". Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Blasberg, Derek (September 11, 2021). "How Alice Walton Is Doubling Down on Her Mega-Museum in Arkansas". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 14, 2022.
  21. ^ a b c Garcia-Furtado, Laia (October 8, 2021). "Alice Walton Envisions the Future of American Art". W Magazine. Retrieved October 14, 2022.
  22. ^ Overfelt, David (2006). Building Wal-Mart with resistance: community political action against a new Wal-Mart supercenter (Thesis thesis). University of Missouri--Columbia.
  23. ^ "Have the Waltons chosen their nominee? Sure looks like it!". The Walmart 1%. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  24. ^ "Walmart's Walton family backing Clinton". Washington Examiner. September 7, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  25. ^ Wahba, Phil (January 4, 2016). "America's Richest Family Gave Away $407 Million in Walmart Shares". Fortune. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  26. ^ a b c d Scutari, Mike (July 26, 2022). ""Ingredients in Living a Fulfilling Life." How Alice Walton's Philanthropy Is Evolving and Expanding". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved October 14, 2022.
  27. ^ "UCA announces $3 million gift from Alice L. Walton Foundation at Windgate Center groundbreaking". Talk Business & Politics. October 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  28. ^ "Alice Walton Foundation pledges $1.28 million to UAMS for NWA school nutrition programs". Talk Business & Politics. May 27, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  29. ^ Seymore, Sade (October 12, 2022). "Northwest Arkansas Food Bank receives $3.5 million grant from Alice L. Walton Foundation". KFSM-TV. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  30. ^ Gill, Todd (May 26, 2022). "Alice Walton Foundation gives $10 million to Crystal Bridges to expand internship program". Feyetteville Flyer. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  31. ^ "Alice Walton plans to build medical school in Bentonville". KTLO. March 4, 2021. Retrieved October 14, 2022.
  32. ^ Gatling, Paul (June 30, 2022). "Bentonville medical school site revealed; new name is Alice L. Walton School of Medicine". Talk Business & Politics. Retrieved October 14, 2022.
  33. ^ Golden, Alex (April 26, 2022). "New nonprofit medical system in the works for NWA". Axios. Retrieved October 14, 2022.
  34. ^ "Alice Walton Profile". Forbes. March 1, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  35. ^ "The Woman Who Put the Art in Wal-Mart". The Independent. London. November 8, 2007. Archived from the original on December 8, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  36. ^ Paul, Steve (December 10, 2006). "Alice Walton's big picture: The Wal-Mart heir turns her eye, and her money, to art collecting". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  37. ^ "Wal-Mart heiress loves cutting horses". Associated Press. December 19, 1999. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  38. ^ 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.
  39. ^ Baker, Max B. (July 1, 2016). "Alice Walton cuts prices on two ranch properties". Star-Telegram. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  40. ^ Sherman, Erik (September 17, 2015). "Wal-Mart heiress selling these 'iconic' ranches for $48 million". Fortune. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  41. ^ "Wal-Mart heiress brings art museum to the Ozarks". NPR. November 8, 2011. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  42. ^ Malle, Chloe (October 26, 2021). "How Alice Walton is Bringing the Art World to Bentonville, Arkansas". Town & Country Magazine. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  43. ^ Dangremond, Sam (February 1, 2016). "Alice Walton Is the Richest Woman in the World". Town & Country Magazine. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  44. ^ "The World's 100 Most Influential People: 2012 - TIME". Time. Retrieved April 22, 2023.
  45. ^ Schnell, Lindsay (August 13, 2020). "Walmart heiress Alice Walton, Hillary Rodham Clinton among Arkansas most influential Women of the Century". USA Today. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  46. ^ Wooldridge, Jane (October 26, 2018). "These global leaders in government and business are meeting in Miami. All are women". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  47. ^ "International Hall of Fame". International Women's Forum. Retrieved April 22, 2023.
  48. ^ "Alice Walton, Martin Puryear, and Kwame Anthony Appiah Receive Getty Medals". Art Forum. February 27, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2022.

External links edit