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ImageThe number of billionaires in the Forbes' list has hit a record four-digit figure: 1,125. The total net worth of the group is $4.4 trillion, up $900 billion from last year. Americans account for 42 per cent of the world's billionaires and 37 per cent of the total wealth.

The most famous billionaires are men. Little is known about the richest women in the world. So who are the world's superrich ladies? Read on . . .

1. Liliane Bettencourt

Liliane Bettencourt is the world's richest woman. With a wealth of $22.9 billion, she is the 17th richest person on earth, according to Forbes.

She is also the second richest person in France, after Bernard Arnault who has an estimated wealth of $26.0 billion.

Daughter of Eugene Schueller, the founder of L'Oreal, one of the world's leading cosmetics companies, Bettencourt has a controlling stake of 27 per cent in L'Oreal since four decades. In 1957, Bettencourt inherited the L'Oreal fortune from her father. He founded the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, which awards the Liliane Bettencourt Prize for Life Sciences to a European researcher under the age of 45.

Bettencourt prefers to be away from public attention and devotes her time for the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation. Her mission is to help and support projects in the medical and humanitarian areas. About 60 per cent of the Foundation's budget helps in medical research.
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