Richest People in History Jorge Wolney Atalla

About Jorge Wolney Atalla, history, biography and worth of one of the richest men in history.



The grandson of Lebanese immigrants to Brazil, Jorge Wolney Atalla was born in 1929, the son of a physician father and a plantation-owning mother. Trained as a petroleum engineer in the U.S., he was recalled to the family coffee and cattle raising enterprises in 1960, when his father decided to devote himself exclusively to the practice of medicine.

Wolney Atalla was reluctant to abandon his career in engineering, but after being pressured into taking control by his mother, he resolutely began applying advanced technology and managerial methods to the family agribusiness. In addition to the lands his mother had inherited, Wolney Atalla acquired many mismanaged properties at bargain prices, and he quickly proved how valuable an innovative and technologically trained mind can be. Faced with a glut on the sugar market, he began distilling Atalla sugar into alcohol. Alcohol, which is used as a household fuel for cooking and heating, quickly became a major industry in Brazil, where the government is seeking every way possible to limit petroleum consumption.

By far his greatest triumph, however--and one that made him a national hero--was the acquisition of Hills Bros. coffee in 1976. When Wolney Atalla took over as chairman of the board, he became a symbol to his countrymen that Brazil's days of being strictly a supplier of raw materials to the world's industrial nations had come to an end.

How Much?

Jorge Wolney Atalla shares ownership in the family coffee, sugar, cattle, and other enterprises with his two brothers; the net worth of the family is close to $1.3 billion. Wolney Atalla does not live extravagantly, considering the size of his fortune. His single indulgence is a magnificent apartment, which is valued--not including the furnishings--at $800,000.

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