Heinz Kerry Fortune Passes $1 Billion Mark

Teresa Heinz Kerry (search) controls a family fortune valued at nearly $1 billion, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) is widely reported to have assets of $500 million, but her fortune has doubled that amount since 1995 despite large living expenses and charitable contributions, the Times said, citing Securities and Exchange Commission (search) filings, financial disclosure reports and other public records.

A precise valuation of Heinz Kerry's net worth was difficult because key details about her investments are not contained in the public record. The newspaper said its estimates ranged from $900 million to $3.2 billion but cited financial experts as saying $1 billion was a "fair and conservative" valuation.

Heinz Kerry declined requests for comment while representatives for the couple said they regard their finances as private, the Times said.

Heinz Kerry, 65, inherited her vast fortune from her first husband, Sen. John Heinz (search), a Pennsylvania Republican and heir to the Heinz food fortune who was killed in a plane crash in 1991.

The money is primarily held by seven trust funds and several other investment accounts that benefit her and three children and support charitable donations.

Her portfolio of U.S. and foreign investments is so broad it may raise concerns about conflicts of interest since Kerry's decisions as president would likely affect her assets, the Times reported. The couple would be the wealthiest to ever occupy the White House.

Besides her family holdings, Heinz Kerry oversees three large nonprofit corporations in Pittsburgh and Washington with total assets of $1.2 billion that focus on the arts, education, women's health and the environment, among other causes.

Heinz Kerry, who grew up in Mozambique (search), also owns a Gulfstream jet and several multimillion-dollar properties around the country.