Woman is looking for 50 strangers to help her give away her $27 million inheritance

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

A woman is looking to give away her $27 million inheritance as a way of fighting wealth inequality.

Marlene Engelhorn is an Austrian pharmaceuticals heiress and descendant of Friedrich Engelhorn, who is the founder of BASF - a European multinational company and the largest chemical producer in the world.

The 31-year-old's family also owned Boehringer Mannheim, a pharmaceutical and medical diagnostic equipment company, until it was sold for $11 billion in 1997.

Engelhorn, who resides in Vienna, earned a staggering $27.4 million inheritance from her grandmother Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto after her death at age 95 in September 2022. Forbes estimated that Engelhorn-Vechiatto's wealth was at a whopping $4.2 billion.

The heiress has been campaigning for taxing the top 1%, as she co-founded Tax Me Now in 2021, which is a collective of people in German-speaking countries addressing extreme inequality resulting from tax policies.

She believes that the Austrian government should impose taxes on assets and inheritance, but since they aren't, she is taking it into her own hands by sending 10,000 invitations to randomly selected Austrian citizens over the age of 16, asking them to complete a survey, per CBS News.

Upon completion, she will limit the list down to 50 people of diverse backgrounds that she feels represent the Austrian population. They will then become Guter Rat - which means Good Council - and will assist her in creating ideas for how to distribute more than $27 million.

The participants will meet in Salzburg, Austria, from March to June, and will also receive $1,300 for each attended weekend for childcare and travel expenses.

In her project mission statement, Engelhorn says her wealth was accumulated before she was even born, writing: "It was accumulated because other people did the work, but my family was able to inherit the ownership of an enterprise and thus all claims to the fruits of its labor."

"Wealth is never an individual achievement. Wealth is always created by society. A few people get rich because they buy other people's time and profit from it," she added.

wp-image-1263244742 size-full
Credit: Phil Ashley / Getty

According to the Guter Rat website, the most affluent 1% of the population in Austria owns 50% of the country's net wealth. Majority of that 1% inherited their wealth, just like Engelhorn.

The European nation has no estate, inheritance, or wealth taxes, and yet many civilians are in favor of taxes on wealth. Meanwhile, the US does have these taxes in place, but very few people pay estate taxes.

Engelhorn claims that many beneficiaries give almost none of their money back to society and profit from tax privileges, noting: "Inheriting is an imposition on society. Inheriting means being born directly into the boss's armchair – but not even needing it."

"Inheriting means that doors open – doors which others never ever get to see in their lifetime. Inheriting means feeling financial security that protects you from unbearable work, unbearable or inadequate housing, health disadvantages, and much more," she added.

While it has not been disclosed how much of the heiress' inheritance is being distributed, Engelhorn disclosed back in 2021 that she wanted to give up at least 90% of her fortune because had won the "birth lottery" and had done nothing to earn it, per the BBC.

Featured image credit: Phil Ashley / Getty

Woman is looking for 50 strangers to help her give away her $27 million inheritance

vt-author-image

By Asiya Ali

Article saved!Article saved!

A woman is looking to give away her $27 million inheritance as a way of fighting wealth inequality.

Marlene Engelhorn is an Austrian pharmaceuticals heiress and descendant of Friedrich Engelhorn, who is the founder of BASF - a European multinational company and the largest chemical producer in the world.

The 31-year-old's family also owned Boehringer Mannheim, a pharmaceutical and medical diagnostic equipment company, until it was sold for $11 billion in 1997.

Engelhorn, who resides in Vienna, earned a staggering $27.4 million inheritance from her grandmother Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto after her death at age 95 in September 2022. Forbes estimated that Engelhorn-Vechiatto's wealth was at a whopping $4.2 billion.

The heiress has been campaigning for taxing the top 1%, as she co-founded Tax Me Now in 2021, which is a collective of people in German-speaking countries addressing extreme inequality resulting from tax policies.

She believes that the Austrian government should impose taxes on assets and inheritance, but since they aren't, she is taking it into her own hands by sending 10,000 invitations to randomly selected Austrian citizens over the age of 16, asking them to complete a survey, per CBS News.

Upon completion, she will limit the list down to 50 people of diverse backgrounds that she feels represent the Austrian population. They will then become Guter Rat - which means Good Council - and will assist her in creating ideas for how to distribute more than $27 million.

The participants will meet in Salzburg, Austria, from March to June, and will also receive $1,300 for each attended weekend for childcare and travel expenses.

In her project mission statement, Engelhorn says her wealth was accumulated before she was even born, writing: "It was accumulated because other people did the work, but my family was able to inherit the ownership of an enterprise and thus all claims to the fruits of its labor."

"Wealth is never an individual achievement. Wealth is always created by society. A few people get rich because they buy other people's time and profit from it," she added.

wp-image-1263244742 size-full
Credit: Phil Ashley / Getty

According to the Guter Rat website, the most affluent 1% of the population in Austria owns 50% of the country's net wealth. Majority of that 1% inherited their wealth, just like Engelhorn.

The European nation has no estate, inheritance, or wealth taxes, and yet many civilians are in favor of taxes on wealth. Meanwhile, the US does have these taxes in place, but very few people pay estate taxes.

Engelhorn claims that many beneficiaries give almost none of their money back to society and profit from tax privileges, noting: "Inheriting is an imposition on society. Inheriting means being born directly into the boss's armchair – but not even needing it."

"Inheriting means that doors open – doors which others never ever get to see in their lifetime. Inheriting means feeling financial security that protects you from unbearable work, unbearable or inadequate housing, health disadvantages, and much more," she added.

While it has not been disclosed how much of the heiress' inheritance is being distributed, Engelhorn disclosed back in 2021 that she wanted to give up at least 90% of her fortune because had won the "birth lottery" and had done nothing to earn it, per the BBC.

Featured image credit: Phil Ashley / Getty