According to our 2012 billionaire list, Susanne Klatten is the richest person in the world who made their money in the automotive industry.
We valued the 49-year-old German at $13 billion, making her the 59th-richest person in the world and the richest person in Germany.
A trained economist, Klatten inherited a stake in BMW from her late father, Herbert Quandt, who rescued the company from bankruptcy decades ago. She also controls chemical manufacturer Altana and holds stakes in wind power outfit Nordex AG and carbon and graphite producer SGL and Geohumus, which focuses on developing a water storing granulate to be used in agriculture.
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In 2009, Klatten won a civil case against Helg Sgarbi, an ex-lover who tried to blackmail her for millions. Sgarbi was sent to jail for six years for fraud and attempted extortion. She lives in Bad Homburg, Germany.
Other people on this year’s list who made their fortunes in cars include BMW’s Stefan and Johanna Quandt (Nos. 76 and 88, worth $11.2 billion and $10 billion, respectively); Hyundai’s Chung Mong-Koo (No. 161, $6.2 billion); Tesla’s Elon Musk (No. 634, $2 billion); and Roger Penske (No. 1075, $1.1 billion).
Notable among the bunch are a few Americans like Toyota’s Thomas Friedkin (No. 804, $1.6 billion) who dominates the auto market near the gulf coast. Friedkin has exclusive rights to import and distribute Toyota vehicles in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi; his Gulf States Toyota has taken a cut on every Toyota sold in those states since 1968.
Norman Braman (No. 806, $1.6 billion) is also notable: the Basel regular owns a multimillion-dollar art collection that includes pieces by Willem De Kooning, John Carmichael, Picasso and Warhol. The former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles bought a Cadillac dealership in Tampa in 1972 and today owns 17 car dealerships in Florida and Colorado.
There’s also Shahid Khan (No. 491, $2.5 billion), the new Jacksonville Jaguars owner who purchased the team from Wayne Weaver for $770 million in a deal that closed in January.
Khan is a naturalized U.S. citizen who emigrated from Pakistan for college at age 16. He got his start working at auto parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate then left in 1978 to found his own company, Bumper Works, which makes a one-piece car bumper design that is the industry standard.