Among Donald Trump’s historically rich cabinet members, Betsy DeVos is the richest. But for more than two years, the extent of her finances has been a mystery. Now Forbes has zeroed in on the root of the DeVos family fortune, Amway, to come up with what we believe is the most realistic estimate of the size of her fortune published so far. Together, Betsy DeVos, her husband and their four adult children are worth roughly $2 billion.
The key to untangling DeVos’ empire appears to lie in Securities and Exchange Commission filings from the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Amway’s Asia-Pacific business operated through a publicly traded subsidiary. Those documents indicate that Betsy’s husband Dick DeVos and his three siblings had equal interests in the subsidiary, an indication that they equally split their ownership of the rest of Amway. Given that his parents have both passed away and the DeVos family continues to own half of the business, it seems reasonable to assume that Betsy, her husband and their kids now control one quarter of the family’s stake, or about 12% of Amway. That share is worth an estimated $1.3 billion.
Betsy DeVos is the richest member of Donald Trump’s cabinet. She, her husband and their four adult children are worth an estimated $2 billion—mostly in Amway stock.
Betsy, the daughter of auto parts magnate Edgar Prince and sister of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, owes the vast majority of her fortune to her marriage to Dick DeVos. His father, Richard DeVos Sr., cofounded Amway in 1959 alongside his high school friend, Jay Van Andel. What began as two buddies selling an all-purpose cleaner door-to-door quickly grew into an army of independent salespeople hawking vitamins, soaps and other household goods to friends and family—and, controversially, earning money by signing others up as distributors too. Dick DeVos ran the company from 1993 to 2002. Today one DeVos (Dick’s brother Doug) and one Van Andel co-chair the board. The families split ownership 50/50, according to a spokesperson of the DeVos family.
The DeVoses own a sportsplex in Florida, a baseball stadium in Michigan and a resort in the Bahamas. They reportedly own at least ten yachts, including the 164-foot Seaquest. In 1991 Richard DeVos shelled out $85 million to buy the NBA’s Orlando Magic. The team is now worth nearly $1.2 billion net of debt.
They are also major private equity investors through their own Ottawa Avenue Private Capital and as investors in others’ funds, including billionaire Robert Smith’s Vista Equity Partners and AEA Investors, a firm partly founded by the Rockefeller and Mellon families. Dick and Betsy were early investors in home goods retailer At Home and own as much as $5 million worth of stock in Elon Musk’s privately held SpaceX. The couple agreed to sell off dozens of other holdings when Betsy was tapped to lead the education department, including investments in student lender SoFi and a company that sells laundry machines to college campuses.
Still, they raked in money from at least 85 separate sources last year, according to an early draft of Betsy’s most recent financial disclosure obtained by Forbes. In all, she has disclosed that her share of these outside holdings—which do not include Amway or the Magic—are worth at least $335 million.
Add it all up and Betsy and her husband’s slice of the family fortune totals about $2 billion, though it’s hard to tell how much, if any, of that wealth has already been transferred to their four children and eight grandchildren. Ethics laws don’t require public officials like DeVos to break down their exact stake in an investment or what they have given to family members, an especially big loophole for large, dynastic wealth like the DeVos fortune. The family spokesperson would only say that the second and third generation DeVoses “actively participate in family committees and businesses, and hopefully the fourth generation will one day too.”
When pressed for further details about how the Secretary of Education and her family split their riches, the spokesperson did not respond.