Advertisement

Heiress wants to give away $27M fortune — and she’ll pay 50 strangers to help her

A woman with blonde hair and glasses holding a sign that says
A woman with blonde hair and glasses holding a sign that says

An Austrian heiress is giving away much of her $27.1 million fortune — and she’s recruiting 50 people to tell her where it should go.

Marlene Engelhorn, 31, was bequeathed the vast sum by her grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto, who died in September 2022 at age 95.

But with no need for all the money, the heiress has set up an initiative titled “Good Council for Redistribution.”

“I have inherited a fortune, and therefore power, without having done anything for it,” she wrote in a statement, per the BBC. “And the state doesn’t even want taxes on it.

“If politicians don’t do their job and redistribute, then I have to redistribute my wealth myself,” she declared.

It’s unclear how much of the money will be given away, but Engelhorn has previously stated that she would part with up to 90% of her fortune.

Engelhorn’s grandmother was a descendant of Friedrich Engelhorn, the founder of the chemical company BASF. Forbes reported that she had an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion fortune before her death.

Marlene Engelhorn, 31, was bequeathed the vast sum by her grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto, who died in September 2022. AFP via Getty Images
Marlene Engelhorn, 31, was bequeathed the vast sum by her grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto, who died in September 2022. AFP via Getty Images
It’s unclear how much of the money will be given away, but Engelhorn has previously stated that she would part with up to 90% of her fortune. dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
It’s unclear how much of the money will be given away, but Engelhorn has previously stated that she would part with up to 90% of her fortune. dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Engelhorn began her search for the 50 chosen people, sending out 10,000 invitations to random Austrians over the age of 16.

The group will comprise people from “all age groups, federal states, social classes and backgrounds.”

They will be asked to “contribute their ideas to jointly develop solutions in the interests of society as a whole,” with Engelhorn describing the process as “service to democracy.”

“I have no veto rights,” Engelhorn stated. “I am putting my assets at the disposal of these 50 people and placing my trust in them.”

The group will convene in Salzburg with academics and various organizations from March to June — and each of them will be paid handsomely for their time.

“I have no veto rights,” Engelhorn stated. “I am putting my assets at the disposal of these 50 people and placing my trust in them.” dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
“I have no veto rights,” Engelhorn stated. “I am putting my assets at the disposal of these 50 people and placing my trust in them.” dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Travel costs will be covered, and each participant will be paid approximately $1,300 for each weekend of discussions that they attend.

Childcare and interpreters will also be available on-site.