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Despite Business & Family Ties, We Bet You've Never Heard of the Fourth Wealthiest Woman in the U.S.

" ... 70-year-old billionaire daughter-in-law of the late Anna Nicole Smith."

How is it that we're just now learning about the 70-year-old billionaire daughter-in-law of the late Anna Nicole Smith? The answer is simple: Elaine Tettemer Marshall, who is worth about $12.7 billion, has made a concerted effort to avoid the public eye.

"She's extremely low-key," says Peter Newcomb, editor of the Americas for Bloomberg News's Billionaire Index.

Indeed, her life before and after the death of her husband, E. Pierce Marshall, in 2006, seems to be one of quiet obscurity, meaning she’s not the type of person to throw lavish parties featuring $800-a-bottle champagne towers.

So how did Newcomb and his cohort find her? It all started with a simple question: who's the minority stakeholder in Koch Industries?

"The majority owners are the Koch brothers, Charles and David, famous (or infamous, depending on your politics) for bankrolling conservative causes,"” Good Morning America reports.

"Though the brothers own most of the fabulously profitable company (whose sales Bloomberg puts at $110 billion a year), they do not own it all. Some 15 percent belonged to E. Pierce Marshall. And this share, after his death, passed to Elaine," the report continues.

With a net worth of almost $12.7 billion, Marshall's wealth puts her just behind the two Wal-Mart heiresses and "candy company beneficiary" Jacqueline Mars -- meaning Marshall is the fourth richest woman in the U.S. and has been for the last couple of years.

And yet, she has managed to go undetected, which, when you consider her family, is really quite amazing. Elaine's father-in-law, J. Howard Marshall, was famous for being a) insanely wealthy and b) marrying 26-year-old former stripper and Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith when he was 89 -- which is gross.

"Years of legal wrangling between Smith and the Marshall family followed J. Howard's death in 1995, the upshot of which was that Smith never inherited a cent of the family fortune," GMA reports.

Bloomberg's report on Marshall's wealth doesn't seem to have changed her position on avoiding the public spotlight.

"A representative for Elaine Marshall, who lives in Dallas, declined to comment on Bloomberg's revelation of her wealth, beyond saying that Mrs. Marshall does not own any Koch stock in her own name," the report adds.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

Front page photo source courtesy the AP.

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