Here's how much money the heirs to Aldi are really worth

Starting a company that will eventually turn into a global empire worth billions is difficult (via CNBC). Having that empire managed by your heirs who may or may not be the most suitable ones to inherit a fortune is a whole other challenge. Aldi has grown from a small grocery store in Germany to a worldwide powerhouse with plans to have nearly 2,500 stores operating in the United States by 2022 (via Aldi). Oh, it's also important to mention that these days, the company owns Trader Joe's. That's right — while Joe Coulombe may have founded Trader Joe's, today it's run by Aldi's Albrecht family

Founders Karl and Theo Albrecht built Aldi into what it is today, but both men have now passed away and the grocery store fortune is causing some major family drama among their heirs. 

Two families with two fortunes and billions at stake

The Albrecht family tree and how it relates to Aldi is a bit complicated. One of the founders, Theo, died in 2010 and was reportedly worth $18.8 billion (via The New York Times). Not bad, huh? When his brother Karl died in 2014, he was reported to be worth $26 billion. Even better. Theo ran Aldi Nord which also encompassed part of West Germany and southern Europe, while Karl ran Aldi Süd, covering southwest Germany, the U.S., eastern Europe, and Australia (via Business Insider). In other words, there is one company, but two fortunes.

Aldi may have built its reputation on frugality, but that doesn't mean all of the Albrecht brothers' heirs are following the trend, which is the reason for their recent controversies.  

Karl Albrecht left his part of the company and fortune to his son Karl Jr. and daughter Beate. They're both relatively frugal — at least for billionaires — and while Karl Jr. doesn't have any kids, his sister has six children. The combined net worth between the two today is around $36 billion. 

Really not all that much is known about Karl Jr., as the son of Karl Albrecht lives an incredibly private life and doesn't grant interviews to the press. While it's unclear which of his six nephews and nieces — if any — will inherit his part of the fortune, it's understandable why he remains so private. Karl Jr.'s uncle Theo was actually kidnapped in the 1970s and held for 17 days until a $3 million ransom was paid. From that point on, both the Albrecht brothers and their offspring maintained very private lives, and even traveled to work in an armored car.  

The families have different priorities when it comes to the fortune

Whereas the Albrecht brothers and their children may have been both private and frugal, not everyone in the family shares those values. The Albrecht family today has its fair share of family drama, and most of it seems to be tied to the widow of Theo Albrecht's son Berthold.

Theo's late wife, Cäcilie Albrecht, who passed away in 2018, had made it known that she wasn't exactly a fan of her deceased son's wife, Babette (via News.com.au). She and her son Theo Jr. reportedly harbored concerns that Babette and her five children are more interested in spending Theo Albrecht's fortune than managing it for the sake of the company. 

The lifestyle of Babette certainly goes against the grain when compared to the rest of the Albrecht clan. Following the death of her husband, Babette went on a shopping spree and was buying everything from vintage cars to extravagant clothes and pricey pieces of art. Whereas the older members of the Albrecht family aren't even seen in public, Babette seems to lavish the spotlight and frequents parties and publicity events. 

The money leads to family fighting

So just how much money have Babette and her kids spent on fancy material items? Well, Theo Jr. — the brother of Babette's late husband Berthold — eventually broke his silence and called Babette out as a "burden" on Aldi and that he didn't approve of the $157 million she'd blown on a lavish lifestyle. 

Things were pretty ugly with the Albrechts, however, even before Cäcilie Albrecht's death. In 2016, when Berthold passed away he made it known in his will that neither Babette nor his children were to be in control of Alid Nord. Not surprisingly, Babette took offense and hired a legal team to argue that her late husband was mentally incompetent to make the decision because of his drinking habit. 

While one side of the family is keeping with the way things were established by the brothers years ago, the other definitely is not, and it remains to be seen how it all shakes out with billions on the table.