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Christy Walton

Christy Ruth Walton (née Tallant; born February 8, 1949) is the widow of John T. Walton, one of the sons of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart.

In June 2005, her husband died in a plane crash, making her the main heir to his fortune of US$18.2 billion. Forbes listed Christy Walton as the richest woman in the world for several years. Her net worth was estimated to $41.7 billion in March 2015, the bulk of which came from her shares in Walmart, but also from First Solar, in which her husband had invested. In November 2015, an analysis of court documents by Bloomberg revealed that the bulk of her husband’s wealth had been transferred to her son, Lukas Walton, resulting in an estimated net worth of approximately US$11 billion.

Walton’s fortune is derived mostly from her interest in Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. The shares are controlled through the Walton Family Holdings Trust as well as Walton Enterprises, a family holding company.

She’s credited with a 1.9% stake, which she received from the estate of her late husband, John T. Walton, who died in 2005 and left the fortune to his wife, their only child and charitable trusts. The stake is calculated using the assumption that Walmart co-founder Sam Walton split the shares he owned equally among his four children — Rob, Alice, Jim and John. The split between mother and son is based on will documents that were unsealed by a Wyoming court and obtained by Bloomberg in November 2015.

She’s also calculated to own a 4% interest in Walton-owned Arvest Bank, Arkansas’s largest commercial bank, that is also controlled by the estate, according to a December 2010 filing to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Closely held Arvest has a book value of about $1.8 billion, according to a Dec. 31, 2022 filing with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and is valued using the average price-to-book value multiple of two publicly traded peer companies: Fifth Third Bancorp and UMB Financial.

Since the death of Sam Walton in 1992, John T. Walton and his estate have collected more than $14 billion in dividends and sales of Walmart and First Solar stock. She’s credited with about $2 billion of that, based on an analysis of Bloomberg data, as of June 2021. The net value of those investments is based on an analysis of those proceeds, as well as taxes, market performance and philanthropy.

Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for the Walton family, declined to comment on the net worth calculation.

Biography

Christy Walton was born in February 1949. She is the widow of the late John T. Walton, the second son born to Walmart founder Sam Walton. A Green Beret veteran who was awarded the Silver Star after serving in the Vietnam War, Walton died in 2005 when he crashed his experimental ultralight aircraft in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Before his death they purchased a Victorian house in National Park, California, which she gave to charity in 2006. She also listed their Wyoming home for $12.5 million seven years later. The couple had one son, Lukas, who fought cancer as a child, attended Colorado College and inherited about a third of his father’s estate, according to Walton’s will documents that were unsealed by a Wyoming court and obtained by Bloomberg in November 2015.

Christy received an award for her role as producer of the film “Bless Me, Ultima” from the Imagen Foundation.

Philanthropy

Profiled by Condé Nast Portfolio magazine in The Giving Index, she is ranked as the highest female philanthropist according to the amount she gives as a percentage of her wealth. At a then estimated $16.3 billion net worth, she contributed a total of $3.5 billion cumulatively between 2002 and 2006.

Non-profit organizations in which Walton is actively serving include the national association of trustees and staff, corporate giving officers, and individual donors of The Philanthropy RoundtableThe San Diego Natural History Museum, where she is a board member, as well as the San Diego Zoological Society and the Mingei International Museum are also institutions to which she makes donations. In 2006, Walton donated her own old Victorian home which was built in 1896 for former National CityCalifornia postmaster Oliver Noyes and is of historical significance, to the International Community Foundation – Center for Cross-Border Philanthropy. Since her donation, she has endowed $4 million towards the edifice’s preservation.

Additionally, she supports her family’s own charitable foundation, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, which prioritizes education and benefits institutions of higher education such as the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, and several other colleges, community trusts, universities and foundations. In 2007, her family’s foundation donated as much as $1.6 billion.

Variety reported on March 2, 2009 that Christy Walton had set up a production company called Tenaja Productions to finance a film adaptation of Bless Me, Ultima, a popular Chicano coming of age novel. Filming wrapped in Santa Fe, New Mexico in late 2010. The film premiered at the Plaza Theatre in El Paso, Texas on September 17, 2012, and received a general release in February 2013.

Politics

Walton backed The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super-PAC, which ran ads in battleground states. She donated $20,000 to The Lincoln Project in January 2020 and a further $10,000 in May 2020.

Milestones

  • 1985 John and Christy Walton purchase house in National Park, California.
  • 1987 Son, Lukas, is born.
  • 2005 John Walton dies in an airplane crash in Jackson Hole.
  • 2006 Donates Victorian house in National Park, California to charity.
  • 2008 Lukas diagnosed with cancer as a child. Mother attributes survival to diet.
  • 2010 Lukas Walton graduates from Colorado College.
  • 2013 Lists 2.5-acre estate in Wyoming for $12.5 million.
  • 2015 Wyoming judge unseals court filings pertaining to husband’s estate.

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