The 17 wealthy Old money families

This is the title image of the article about old money families.

Old money families, with their enduring histories, not only represent a strong system of heritage and nobility but also shoulder accountability for many inventions and major brands we recognize today. But which ones are they?

Old money families like the Rockefellers or Rothschilds are well-established families that have a long and bright history. Typically, they have been well-known for at least 5 generations and have accumulated lots and lots of wealth and societal impact.

To find out which families are characterized as old money, we will first look at the crucial elements that define a family as old money and afterward look at the most famous old money families in the USA and Europe separated due to their entirely different histories. So, keep reading!

What are crucial elements of old money families?

Old money families not only have to have a long-standing history but also need to match certain criteria to be considered quiet luxury. Therefore, we will look at 4 main criteria these families typically match.

Lots of wealth

Logically, a family who is considered to be old money should also have some. There may not be a specific number as when a family is described as quiet luxury but generally, I would assume this number to be around 5 million including assets like a house or property.

Aristocratic history

Many houses of quiet luxury have been active and are known for their political and aristocratic impact. As this was a very lucrative profession in the 19th century and opened lots of doors, many people managed to accumulate quite some money following this old money profession.

To find out more about old money jobs and professions, check out my recent article here.

Well-known

May it be due to their political impact or gift-giving or general impact on the world, a crucial or at least very desirable element that characterizes a family as old money is their reputation. Typically, those of quiet luxury strive a lot to get those great reputations.

Lots of Traditions

Lastly, traditions play a huge role in old money families. Much of their behavior and general approach to life is controlled by the traditions of the ancestors of old money families. Things like charity, a good etiquette, traditional family gatherings, and a strong bond to each family member are just some of the things that make a family old money.

Old money families in the USA

Now, let’s jump into this list of old money families. We will start in the USA to get an overview here. 

Rockefeller family

Net worth: $8.4 B (Forbes)

Industry: Oil and Banking

Story: The Rockefellers are one of the wealthiest families in the US and hold many valuable positions in various industries. Their huge heritage is split between 70 heirs. Also, they’ve established the Rockefeller Foundation, known for substantial charitable contributions.

Roosevelt family

Net worth: $141 M in peak (Financial)

Industry: Politics, Oil

Story: The Roosevelts are maybe one of the most powerful families in the US. With Theodore and Franklin having been presidents and many other pursuing governmental or other profitable careers, they have had a lot of net worth. The net worth described above is the peak net worth of Franklin D. as a number of the families total net worth is not available. Franklin did not manage to keep his wealth though and lost a lot to bad investments.

Vanderbilt family

Net worth: Once $185 B (now under 5 million)

Industry: Railroads and Shipping

Story: Commodore Vanderbilt once established a fortune which would nowadays be worth $185 billion. After his death though, hardly anyone of his heirs managed to sustain or multiply his wealth leading to lots of Vanderbilts living a rather normal life nowadays. Apart from that the Vanderbilts contributed to the development of cultural institutions.

Ford family

Net worth: $2 B (Forbes)

Industry: Automotive (Ford Motor Company)

Story: As you might guess by the name, this old money family has made lots of money and gained a huge reputation for creating the car brand Ford. Also, Henry Ford has established the assembly-line work.

Du Pont family

Net worth: $16 B

Industry: Chemicals (DuPont company)

Story: The Du Pont family descended from Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours and is mainly known for making a fortune in the gunpowder business during the 19th century. Later, it expanded into the chemical sector and became a huge shareholder in General Motors. 

Astor family

Net worth: $2.2 B (in peak compared to today)

Industry: Real Estate

Story: The story of the Astors began when Jacob Astor, a German immigrant managed to become the first multi-millionaire in the 18th century due to beaver trade fur trading. Later-on he used his fortune to buy many acres in Manhattan and therefore early New York City. Nevertheless, after some of his heirs died in the crash of the Titanic, the heir at that time decided to give more than half away due to him not liking their history. 

Hilton family

Net worth: $14.2 B 

Industry: Hotel (Hilton Hotel & Resorts Group)

Story: When Conrad Hilton founded his company in 1919, he set the foundation for a multi-billion-dollar business we all know today. Also, the Hiltons participated a lot in philanthropic pursues.

Here, you can see the Hilton Hotel. Founded by one of the wealthiest old money families in the world.

Carnegie family

Net worth: Estimated $4.8 B today (Forbes)

Industry: Steel industry.

Story: When Andrew Carnegie, who made his wealth in the Gilded Age as an industrialist, died, he donated the bulk of his then $350 M to charity and only left his wife and children personal assets and an estimated $10 million each.

Mellon family

Net worth: $12 B

Industry: Banking, Oil

Story: Originally, Archibald Mellon, the starting point of the Mellon’s journey, emigrated from Norther Ireland to the US. His grandson founded the Mellon Bank which led to the huge fortune they nowadays have accumulated. Also, the Mellon’s invested in Oil companies to multiply their wealth.

Old money families in Europe

Now, we will look at the most-known old money families in Europe. Other than the American ones, European old money families often have a long history in reigning or land owning. Not as many have become rich during the industrialization but have managed to accumulate quiet some wealth before that time.

The Royal family

Net worth: $28 B (Forbes)

Industry: Royal pursuits

Story: As maybe the most prominent example of old money families, the Royal family also holds a rather huge fortune. The roots of the British monarchy can be traced back to the early medieval period, the house of Wessex. In the early ages of Great Britain, they had the absolute monarchy compared to nowadays having a symbolic and ceremonial role.

Rothschild family

Net worth: $1.2 trillion

Industry: Historic financiers to various European governments

Story: You might all know them. The Rothschild family, emerging from Frankfurt, Germany, rose to prominence as a powerful banking dynasty in the 19th century, shaping international finance through strategic expertise and a widespread network of family-controlled banks across Europe.

House of Monaco

Net worth: $1 B

Industry: Reigning Monaco, Real Estate

Story: The Grimaldi family, ruling Monaco since the 13th century, is renowned for their enduring legacy and association with glamour, shaping the principality’s modern identity. More than half of Monaco is in their posession.

In this picture, you can see Monaco, an old money travel destination with its famous harbor during a Formal 1 event.

Habsburg family

Net worth: $5 million

Industry: Emperor

Story: Only $5 million, you might ask. Well, the Habsburg family, an Austrian emperor family has “lost” almost all of their fortune due to the Habsburg law and the end of the Monarchy in 1919. Nowadays, Karl von Habsburg is estimated with a net worth of $5 million.

Guinness family

Net worth: $1.2 B

Industry: Founded the Guinness brewery in Ireland 

Story: Founded by Arthur Guinness in Dublin, Ireland, in 1759, the brewery became one of the world’s largest and most successful beer producers. Also, the influence of the family expands into philanthropic and cultural purposes.

Thyssen family

Net worth: 1.5 B

Industry: German steel industry (Thyssenkrupp)

Story: This German family dynasty played a huge role in the lathe 19th and 20th centuries’ steel industry. Following many philanthropic endeavors, Carmen Thyssen inherited the fortune from her husband Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, when he died in 2002.

House of Bourbon

Net worth: $20 B

Industry: Royal family of Spain

Story: The House of Bourbon, an European royal dynasty, has played a significant role in French and Spanish history. With notable members like Henry IV and Louis XIV, their influence spans from the late 16th century to the present day, with the Spanish branch currently holding the Spanish throne in person of King Felipe VI. Apart from England, the Spanish King still appoints the Prime Minister after receiving a vote of confidence from Parliament.

House of Bernadotte

Net worth: $70 M

Industry: Swedish Royal family

Story: The House of Bernadotte, a Swedish royal dynasty, traces its lineage to Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who became King Charles XIV John of Sweden in 1818. With roots dating back to the 19th century, the Bernadotte family has been a central figure in Swedish monarchy, contributing to the nation’s history and traditions.

Final thoughts on old money families

As you can see from this article, old money families often have a completely different story to the accumulation of their wealth. In the USA, many got rich due to the Industrialization whereas many European old money families had accumulated wealth due to reigning and emperor pursuits.

You can find many stories of those old money families in old money movies too.

FAQ

Which is the richest old money family?

The richest old money family by far is the Rothschild family with a net worth of $1.2 trillion. Nevertheless, this is only an approximate sum.

What are the characteristics of an old money family?

A long-lasting history, lots of accumulated wealth, traditions, and an aristocratic or political background are typical indicators for a family to be considered old money. This is crucial for money to be passed down, the meaning of old money.

What re old money families of the USA?

The Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Roosevelts are typical old money families of the USA:

What are typical old money families of Europe?

The Rothschilds, the Royal family, the Guinness family, and the Bourbon family are all old money families of Europe.

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