Year after year after year, Amancio Ortega has been listed by Forbes as one of the wealthiest men in not just Europe, but the world at large. This is thanks to his fashion retail business, Zara clothing accessories and its parent company Inditex, which began decades ago in the city of A Coruna, Spain, and has grown to become a known name in many countries across the world. Read on to find out more about the story behind the reclusive billionaire as well as his personal life.
Amancio Ortega’s Biography
Amancio Ortega, whose full name is Amancio Ortega Gaona, was born as the youngest of four children to Josefa Gaona Hernández and Antonio Ortega Rodríguez on the 28th of March 1936, in Busdongo de Arbás, León, Spain. At around the age of 14, due to his father’s work as a rail worker in the city of A Coruna, Galicia, and their family being a low-income household, Ortega dropped out of school and moved to the city where he found work at a local shirtmaker.
While working as a shop assistant at the store, Ortega learned how to make clothes by hand. His time at the store proved to be the driving force behind his future success as in the 50s, he was able to organize women into sewing cooperatives to produce lingeries, baby clothes, and nightgowns. After a few years of managing the sewing cooperatives, Ortega launched his first company, Confecciones Goa which sold solely quilted bathrobes at the time. A few years later, he collaborated with his wife to launch Zara, a retail store that sold low-priced look-alike products of popular high-end clothing fashions. The store was a huge hit and led to the opening of more stores throughout Spain in the 70s and 80s.
In the late 1980s, Amancio Ortega moved to expand Zara internationally as he created Inditex, a holding company for Zara and its manufacturing plants, which he served as chairman of. Zara’s first store outside Spain was opened in Porto, Portugal in 1988 before moving to the United States in 1989 and France in 1990. In 2011, Ortega announced his imminent retirement as chairman from Inditex which at the time owned more than 6,000 stores all across the world. He, however, still owns around 60% of the company.
As of 2018, Amancio Ortega was reported by Forbes magazine to have a net worth of 60.3 billion US dollars. This made him the wealthiest person in Spain, the second wealthiest person in Europe, and the sixth wealthiest person in the entire world. The Spaniard was able to amass such huge wealth by starting the fast-fashion retail chain Zara and then its parent company Inditex, which grew to become a multinational clothing company and the world’s largest fashion group. Other chains which Inditex owns include Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Kiddy’s Class, Pull and Bear, and Bershka, among others.
Despite Ortega’s mouthwatering wealth, that has gained him ownership of some of the most choice properties across the world, such as the Torre Picasso skyscraper in Madrid and the Epic Residences and Hotel in Miami, Florida, he maintains a very normal lifestyle. He is known for his modest dressing, visiting the same coffee shop every day and eating lunch with his employees in the cafeteria, and catering to his goats and chickens at home.
Wife and Children
Amancio Ortega is notorious for being a very private person as very little is known about his personal life. It is well documented that the fashion tycoon had as of 2012, only granted three interviews to journalists, a testament to his desire to not let the world know much about him. But in this day and age of internet use and social media, however, nothing can be kept a secret for so long, meaning a few facts about his love life and family have been made known to the wider public.
Ortega is currently in his second marriage. His first marriage was to Zara co-founder, Rosalia Mera, in 1966. The pair were married for 20 years, during which time they had two children; a son named Marcos who was born with cerebral palsy, and a daughter named Sandra. The duo divorced in 1986, giving room for Ortega to enter into a relationship with Flora Perez, who he later married in 2001. He and Perez have a daughter named Marta.
In 2013, following the death of Ortega’s first wife Mera, who was at the time Spain’s wealthiest woman and the second wealthiest person in Spain, behind her husband, their older daughter, Sandra, inherited her fortune along with her 7% stake of the company. With their son being mentally incapacitated, Ortega’s second daughter, Marta, who maintains a very close relationship with her father, and has been compared to him in their similarities in business, is considered to be the heir to his fortune.