Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest and wife Nicola open up about family tragedy


Just two days after Sophia Forrest announced her engagement to actress Zara Zoe, her mining magnate parents have revealed why she won’t inherit their $25billion fortune.  

Sophia took to Instagram on Saturday to announce her engagement, including a toast from her father Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and his wife Nicola.

On Monday night, Nicola opened up about the devastating death of their stillborn third child and how the tragedy has driven their philanthropy and they way they think about money.

Nicola, who has largely remained in the shadow of her husband’s high-profile career,  took centre stage on ABC’s Australian Story on Monday to offer insight into the women behind the nation’s second richest family. 

The matriarch spoke about her passion for helping others, her role behind the scenes in her husband’s work, and why ‘children don’t benefit from thinking they’re going to inherit a huge amount of money’.

She said she doesn’t want their three children – Grace, Sophia, and Sydney to be burdened’ by a handout.

Instead they will give the money away to charitable causes. 

Nicola Forrest has opened up about the tragic still birth of her third daughter, Matilda, in 1998

While the Forrests have long been committed to charitable causes, one personal loss close to Nicola and Andrew’s hearts has shaped their benevolent pursuits.

In 1998, the couple lost their daughter Matilda to stillbirth after a ‘perfect pregnancy’, inspiring their work to help other families and children through their organisation, Minderoo Foundation.

Speaking through tears, Nicola recalled how she learnt the news during a routine doctor’s appointment in Perth days before her due date of June 22. 

‘I went into the appointment, I said, “Oh, I didn’t think I was going to make this appointment.” And he said, “Why not?” And I said, “Because I haven’t felt the baby move for 24 hours”,’ Nicola said.

‘There’s a saying that when a baby goes quiet, it’s just before it’s going to be born. And [after doing a check] he went, “Oh, this machine must be broken. “I’m going to send you down the road for an ultrasound.

‘That’s the moment I knew.’

Nicola said she had been preparing the couple’s older two daughters, Grace and Sophia, now 26 and for their new baby sister and she immediately blamed herself, thinking ‘What have I done wrong?’. 

Sophia, 27, (right) announced her engagement to actress Zara Zoe (left) on Instagram on Saturday after two years of dating

Sophia, 27, (right) announced her engagement to actress Zara Zoe (left) on Instagram on Saturday after two years of dating 

Nicola, pictured while pregnant with Matilda, said she learnt the devastating news during a routine ultra sound

Nicola, pictured while pregnant with Matilda, said she learnt the devastating news during a routine ultra sound 

A post-mortem commissioned by the family found there was nothing wrong and their daughter, albeit stillborn, was a ‘perfect, beautiful little girl’.

Andrew said their third child, who they intended to call by the nickname ‘Tilly’, was a blessing to their family. 

‘Matilda really was a fabulous gift, not ours to hold,’ he said.

‘But whenever we’re asked about our children, certainly in a quiet environment, we’ll say, “Yeah, we’ve got four kids – three on earth and one in heaven.”‘

While Andrew has spent the past few decades running – and founding – West Australian iron ore mines with Fortescue Metals, Nicola has been the machine behind the family’s numerous charitable activities. 

Motivated by their personal loss, the Forrests fund research and programs aimed at helping ‘all Australian children reach their full potential’, with Nicola currently lobbying politicians to integrate early education reform into their federal election promise.

In 2013, the couple became the first Australian billionaires to sign up The Giving Pledge, a campaign where extremely wealthy people vow to contribute the majority of their riches to charitable causes. 

Their children were told as kids they would not be left with their parent’s fortune. 

Pictured: Andrew and Nicola Forrest with their daughters Grace and Sophia

Pictured: Andrew and Nicola Forrest with their daughters Grace and Sophia 

Revealing their stance on the matter, Nicola said ‘children don’t benefit from thinking they’re going to inherit a huge amount of money’.

‘We live in a home and I have a great life – but the things that are most important in life, money doesn’t buy that,’ she said.

‘I think its [inheritance] a burden.’ 

Andrew added: ‘The decision to give away everything but the personal things and goods was easy’.

‘You know, let’s not die wealthy. What’s the point of that?’

The Minderoo Foundation’s core initiatives include reducing disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, cancer research and fire and flood resilience. 

Sweet: 'She makes heaven a place on earth,' heiress Sophia captioned the clip of the engagement, along with a ring emoji and the date '21.4.22' Pictured: Zara and Sophia

Sweet: ‘She makes heaven a place on earth,’ heiress Sophia captioned the clip of the engagement, along with a ring emoji and the date ‘21.4.22’ Pictured: Zara and Sophia

It made record-breaking donations of $400 million in 2017 and $655 million in 2019.

Although media attention has centred on Andrew, Sophia said her mother is a major – and often uncredited – pillar behind the family’s success. 

She said it was frustrating to hear her mother, who is the convenor of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership and a member of the Telethon Kids Institute CoLab Advisory Council, referred to in headlines as ‘Andrew Forrest’s wife’.

‘Mum and Dad, I think, have always worked together as a team, so with the enormous success that Dad has had, Mum’s always been right there behind him,’ she said.

‘While I’m so immensely proud of the work Dad does, it [would be] frustrating when your own work is constantly tied to that.’ 

Despite their humanitarian work, the businessman has at times carved a controversial figure over his iron ore company, Fortescue Metals Group, over indigenous land clearing and climate change concerns. 

However, Andrew has since become a crusader to end fossil fuels for the sake of the planet, last year announcing he is now investing in green renewable energy projects.

The revelations come after Sophia broke the news of her engagement on Saturday by sharing a video on Instagram of Zara flashing a diamond ring.

‘She makes heaven a place on earth,’ Sophia wrote, alongside a ring emoji and the date ‘21.4.22’. 

The clip showed the newly engaged couple then sharing dinner with friends, before celebrating by drinking champagne with Andrew and Nicola. 

Family affair: Sophia shared an intimate clip of herself with Zara and her mining magnate father Andrew (far right) and wife Nicola (far left)

Family affair: Sophia shared an intimate clip of herself with Zara and her mining magnate father Andrew (far right) and wife Nicola (far left) 

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