Australia Rich List: Nicola Forrest leapfrogs ‘Twiggy’ to lead new billionaire bunch in 2024 ranking

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
Nicola Forrest will leads a fresh crop of billionaires into Australia’s annual Rich List for the first time.
Nicola Forrest will leads a fresh crop of billionaires into Australia’s annual Rich List for the first time. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The Sunday Times

A year after splitting from her Fortescue founder husband Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, Nicola Forrest has overtaken her ex to claim her own spot on the annual ranking of Australia’s richest people.

More than half of this year’s 11 Rich List debutants are already billionaires, the Australian Financial Review reports, with six of them joining 150 billionaires in the 2024 ranking.

Ms Forrest leads the new group of Rich List debutants, entering solo for the first time since separating from her mining magnate husband — who was Australia’s richest man, and second richest person, behind fellow mining titan Gina Rinehart, last year.

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After the couple called time on their marriage of 31 years in 2023, the Forrests split their holdings in Fortescue — which they continue to invest in together via their investment vehicle Tattarang.

Now Nicola has leapfrogged her husband ‘Twiggy’ to land in seventh position on the Rich List, above his eighth-place finish, with an estimated fortune of $16.92 billion.

Nicola Forrest makes her Rich List solo debut at seventh place.
Nicola Forrest makes her Rich List solo debut at seventh place. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The Sunday Times

More prominent debutants to grace the List include LMCT+ founder Adrian Portelli — who made the 2023 Young Rich List, too — worth an estimated $1.29 billion, and sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann after selling shares in their eponymous Zimmerman fashion brand.

Cryptocurrency giants, a mattress mogul, a former mechanic, and even ex-NRL player Wes Maas have beaten the AFR’s $718 million cut-off to claim a spot on the Rich List.

Maas, a former South Sydney Rabbitohs second-rower, returns to the list after debuting in 2022 with his ASX-listed construction company Maas Group.

Starting in 2002 with a Bobcat and tipper truck and $14,000, Maas Group has expanded to be a national and internationally renowned supplier of construction materials, equipment and services.

The 44-year-old was knocked off the Rich List in 2023 after a fall in his company’s share price, but after a strong recovery he returned in 176th spot with an estimated wealth of $814 million.

Simone and Nicky Zimmermann have landed on the AFR Rich List for the first time.
Simone and Nicky Zimmermann have landed on the AFR Rich List for the first time. Credit: Supplied/MCMPR/MCMPR

Two Victorian crypto kings have landed on the list for the first time, too.

Warracknabeal man Tim Heath, worth an estimated $2.27 billion, made his first fortune from an online casino that accepted Bitcoin and now runs Yolo Group with stakes in companies related to gaming or fintech.

Melbourne-based Russell Wilson made this list with his estimated $1.97bn wealth, from his 80 per cent stake in crypto coin exchange and broker Coinspot.

Several new Rich Listers have seemingly come from nowhere to find a ranking; like the Dyer family in Brisbane — who founded Madad, the mattress manufacturer that later became titan Sealy of Australia — and Perth couple Luke and Amy Mader — behind the heavy vehicle maintenance specialists Mader Group.

The Murphy family in Queensland are another to join the list, helmed by patriarch Robin Murphy, who founded Canstruct, which built and operated the federal government’s Nauru detention centre for illegal immigrants.

Brothers Arthur and Anthony Tzaneros also debuted on the List for the estimated $1.7 billion in wealth accumulated by their family freight company ACFS Port Logistics.

Philanthropists Carol and Alan Schwartz also made the list, for the $989 million built from their Trawalla Foundation; as did Daniel Besen founder of the property developer Besen Group.

The full Australian Financial Review Rich List will be revealed on Friday.

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