The good folks at Forbes have put together a list of the 185 American families with fortunes of $1 billion or more, topping out at $152 billion thanks to the Wal-Mart Waltons, who are $63 billion richer than second placers (the Koch brothers) and a whopping $137 billion richer than our wealthiest family (the du Ponts).
For this report, Forbes focused not on individual or “nuclear family” wealth, but on “multigenerational” wealth. Here’s how they explain it in their methodology:
Unlike our flagship Forbes 400 list of America’s richest and our World Billionaires ranks, which focus on individual or nuclear-family wealth, America’s Richest Families includes multigenerational families of all sizes, ranging from just 2 brothers to the 3,500 members of the Du Pont clan. Families needed a combined net worth of $1 billion to make the cut. To compile this first list we looked at members of The Forbes 400, descendants of past or deceased Forbes 400 members, families behind the country’s biggest private companies and dynasties that had fallen out of our ranks because the fortunes were too dispersed, for starters. (Note: We left out self-made entrepreneurs who founded their companies and already appear with their nuclear family on our Forbes 400. That includes Jack Taylor of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Also absent are married couples like Tom & Judy Love).
So we found it a little odd that the Roberts family — as in the founders of Comcast, aka the largest cable company in the world and owner of NBCUniversal — didn’t appear on the list. After all, CEO Brian Roberts is alone worth $1.2 billion, and surely his father, founder Ralph, still has a bit of money tucked away.
"Ah," began Kerry Dolan, co-editor of the Forbes list, when we contacted her about the omission. "That one, we probably should have included. We probably just missed him. This is a new list for us, and when you do new things, they're not always perfect."
Luisa Kroll, Dolan's cohort at Forbes, followed up with an email. "We didn't look closely at Ralph," she explained. "But will put on our suspect list for next year."
And then a subsequent email: "... based on Ralph's holdings they should have made list. First year doing it we knew we'd overlook some."
But then we're also confused about the inclusion of the Toll Bros. and about the language of the methodology itself. Forbes says it looked at multigenerational wealth, but Toll Bros. is, as the name would suggest, made up of brothers. The methodology even makes mention of "two brothers" being included, but how are two brothers multigenerational?
"We say 'includes multigenerational families' but that doesn't mean it's limited to multigenerational families," explains Dolan.
In any event, below are the eight Greater Philadelphia-area families who made the Forbes cut. We did some extra math just for fun and computed how much money each wealth-holding family member would get if the fortune were divided evenly among them.
The du Pont Family
Worth: $15 billion
Source: DuPont, aka E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
Family Size: 3,500 (estimated)
Worth Per Family Member: $4.3 million
You can thank their Wilmington-based company for products like Kevlar and Teflon. The family recently made the kind of news they'd rather not have when word got out that one heir got probation for raping his daughter. And who can forget John du Pont and the Olympic wrestler?
The Dorrance Family
Worth: $12.8 billion
Source: Campbell Soup Co.
Family Size: 11 (estimated)
Worth Per Family Member: $1.2 billion
The family is still very much involved with the company, with Mary Alice D. Malone being the largest stockholder, owning more than 17 percent of Campbell Soup shares.
The Haas Family
Worth: $3 billion
Family Size: 9
Worth Per Family Member: $333.3 million
As in Rohm & Haas. The remaining members of the family are well known for their charitable endeavors.
The Asplundh Family
Worth: $2.1 billion
Source: Tree trimming
Family Size: 130 (estimated)
Worth Per Family Member: $16.2 million
When three Asplundh brothers started the company in 1928, they probably didn't think that their family would hacksaw its way to being one of the richest families in America. Asplundh Tree Expert is based in Willow Grove.
The Pitcairn Family
Worth: $1.6 billion
Family Size: 200
Worth Per Family Member: $8 million
You can thank them for the spectacular Bryn Athyn Cathedral, financed by a long-dead Pitcairn. And Montco's Glencairn Museum was once part of a Pitcairn's estate.
The Yoh Family
Worth: $1.4 billion
Family Size: 3
Worth Per Family Member: $466.7 million
The Yohs do a very good job of staying out of the papers. They own conglomerate Day & Zimmerman. One fun detail from the family's legacy: They invented foil-wrapping machines for Hershey Kisses.
The Toll Family
Worth: $1.3 billion
Family Size: 2
Worth Per Family Member: $650 million
Thank them for all those McMansions.
The Wood Family
Worth: $1.2 billion
Family Size: 196
Worth Per Family Member: $6.1 million
Their combined wealth works out to about 250 million meatball classics — at HoagieFest prices.