Alice Louise Walton (born October 7, 1949) is an American heiress to the fortune of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. She is the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and Helen Walton, and sister of S. Robson Walton, Jim Walton and the late John T. Walton. With a net worth of $40.8 billion she is the wealthiest woman in the world, according to Forbes. In September 2017, she was reported to own over US$11 billion in Walmart shares. She graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in economics and finance. Walton was born in Newport, Arkansas.
In her early career, Walton was an equity analyst and money manager for First Commerce Corporation and headed investment activities at Arvest Bank Group. She was also a broker for E.F. Hutton. In 1988, Walton founded Llama Company, an investment bank, where she was president, chairwoman and CEO.
Walton was the first person to chair the Northwest Arkansas Council and played a major role in the development of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, which opened in 1998 At the time, the business and civic leaders of Northwest Arkansas Council found a need for the $109 million regional airport in their corner of the state. Walton provided $15 million in initial funding for construction. Her company, Llama Company, underwrote a $79.5 million bond. The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority recognized Walton's contributions to the creation of the airport and named the terminal the Alice L. Walton Terminal Building. She was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.
In the late 1990s, Llama Co. closed and, in 1998, Walton moved to a ranch in Millsap, Texas, named Walton's Rocking W Ranch.An avid horse-lover, she was known for having an eye for determining which 2-month-olds would grow to be champion cutters. Walton listed the farm for sale in 2015 and moved to Fort Worth, Texas, citing the need to focus on the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Bentonville, Arkansas, art museum she founded that opened in 2011.
In his 1992 autobiography Made in America, Sam Walton remarked that Alice was "the most like me—a maverick—but even more volatile than I am
Walton purchased her first piece of art when she was about ten years old.
It was a reproduction of Picasso's Blue Nude she got from her father's Ben Franklin Dime-Store. She and her mother would often paint watercolors on camping trips.Her interest in art led to her spearheading the Walton Family Foundation's involvement in developing Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the heart of Bentonville, Arkansas. Crystal Bridges, opened in November 2011, is envisioned as a premier venue for a national art institution dedicated to American art and artists, and a place of learning and community.
In December 2004, the art collection of Daniel Fraad and wife, Rita, went up for public auction at Sotheby's in New York. Since almost every collector was at the auction, no one could figure out who on the phone was bidding such high prices. It was later discovered that Walton purchased at least $20 million worth of art that day. She bid for most of the items while on a three-year-old gelding named IC LAD preparing to compete in the first qualifying round of the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Ft. Worth, Texas.
In 2005, Walton purchased Asher Brown Durand's celebrated painting, Kindred Spirits, in a sealed-bid auction for a purported US$35 million. The 1849 painting, a tribute to Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole, had been given to the New York Public Library in 1904 by Julia Bryant, the daughter of Romantic poet and New York newspaper publisher William Cullen Bryant (who is depicted in the painting with Cole). She has also purchased works by American painters Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper, as well as a notable portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale, in preparation for the opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. In 2009 at an undisclosed price, Crystal Bridges museum acquired Norman Rockwell's iconic "Rosie the Riveter" painting for its permanent collection.
John Wilmerding, an advisor and board member to Crystal Bridges said Walton has collected the work of some artists in depth, quietly buying substantial bodies of work by Martin Johnson Heade, Stuart Davis, George Bellows and John Singer Sargent.Walton's attempt to quit smoking led to the purchase of two great smoking paintings by Alfred Maurer and Tom Wesselman. In a 2011 interview, she spoke about acquiring great works by other artists. She described Marsden Hartley as "one of my favorite artists-he was a very complex guy, somewhat tormented, but a very spiritual person, and love the emotion and the feel and the spirituality of his work". She went on to say "and Andrew Wyeth-the mystery and loneliness that is expressed. How do you paint loneliness?"
Lessons to Learn
1. On Wal-Mart's key to success
"It (competitor's poor profits) all boils down to not taking care of their customers, not minding their stores, not having folks in their stores with good attitudes, and that was because they never really even tried to take care of their own people. If you want the people in the stores to take care of the customers, you have to make sure you're taking care of the people in the stores. That's the most important single ingredient of Wal-Mart's success."
2. On capturing ideas
"Go in and check our competition. Check everyone who is our competition. And don't look for the bad. Look for the good. If you get one good idea, that's one more than you went into the store with and we must try to incorporate it into our company."
3. On ignoring others' opinions
"If we fail to live up to somebody's hypothetical projection for what we should be doing, I don't care.” That discomfort rising inside when someone imparts their clever wit on you. Not just any kind of wisdom, but the one that makes you feel small, in a here-you-go, punch-to-the-stomach kind of way. A covert little criticism implying that you might not be doing something right or have the wrong ideas. Zoom out of yourself to place a particular opinion in perspective. Keep going upward until it's nothing more than a speck of sand. These opinions look quite different from 100 miles above. Or imagine looking back from ten years’ time. This incident will fade into shameful insignificance. As if it never happened. Think about this as you're weighing up a certain opinion's merit
4. On Alice Walton himself
"When Alice feels a certain way, She is relentless. She will just wear you out. Week after week after week—until finally everybody capitulates and says, well, it's easier to do it than to keep fighting this fight. I guess it could be called management by wearing you down [MBWYD]."
5. On her employees
"I sure owe it to them to at least hear them out when they're upset about something. Partnership involves money—which is crucial to any business relationship—but it also involves basic human considerations, such as respect."
Why did Sam Walton and Alice Walton succeed? Because They listened to themselves, which most of us don't do. Because they ignored negativity from critics, which most of us also don't do. They parlayed his superior intuition and persistence into the largest discount retail empire in the world. A gift of business genius like Sam Walton's is one-of-a-kind, but we can all learn from his original philosophies and strategies as we work to turn our own dreams into reality.
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