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Austrian Heiress Sets Up Citizens Group To Help Her Give Away Her Inheritance Worth Millions

The multimillionaire has invited 10,000 people out of which 50 will help her in giving away money.
UPDATED JAN 25, 2024
Marlene Engelhorn | Wikimedia Commons | Photo by Jan Zappner / re:publica
Marlene Engelhorn | Wikimedia Commons | Photo by Jan Zappner / re:publica
Marlene Engelhorn | Wikimedia Commons | 	Stefanie Loos / re:publica
Marlene Engelhorn | Wikimedia Commons | Stefanie Loos / re:publica

A young Austro-German heiress has sought suggestions from people about how to give away $27.4 million of her inheritance, per a BBC report. Austrian multimillionaire Marlene Engelhorn has invited about 10,000 people out of which 50 lucky people will get to be part of an exclusive gathering in Salzburg, Austria, to help her decide how to give away the money. The 31-year-old heiress has sworn to redistribute her wealth in the most meaningful to help as many as people possible.


Engelhorn is a descendant of Friedrich Engelhorn, the founder of German chemical and pharmaceutical company BASF. The company, founded in 1865, went on to become the largest chemicals company in the world.

Engelhorn inherited her wealth from her grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto, who was estimated to be worth $4.2 billion at the time of her death in 2022, as per Forbes. However, even before her death, her granddaughter had declared that she wanted to give away about 90% of her inheritance.


Engelhorn went on to create a team and established the Good Council for Redistribution to help her with giving away the money. It is not confirmed how much she is keeping but it is reported that she was retaining some kind of financial buffer, as per BBC.

Earlier this month, Engelhorn mailed out 10,000 invitations to randomly selected Austrians. These people can register to participate in the Good Council for Redistribution.

From the 10,000 a lucky 50 citizens, from diverse age groups, federal states, social classes, and backgrounds will be chosen to convene in Salzburg in March. About 15 alternates will also be chosen in case anyone from the initial batch cannot attend the planned sessions.

In Salzburg, the selected 50 people will participate in a series of meetings with nonprofit organizations, charities, academics, and civil society organizations from March to June this year.

Christoph Hofinger, managing director of the Foresight Institute, who is helping with the initiative told the BBC that the participants will be asked to “contribute their ideas to jointly develop solutions in the interests of society as a whole.”

According to the organizers, the participants will be provided with childcare and interpreters if required. Further, the travel costs will be covered and the participants will also be paid about $1300 (€1,200) for every weekend they attend.

Ever since Engelhorn inherited her fortune, she has been planning to redistribute her wealth. "I have no veto rights, I am putting my assets at the disposal of these 50 people and placing my trust in them,” Engelhorn told the BBC.


In 2008, Austria abolished inheritance tax, widening the gap between the rich and poor citizens. Even now, the move remains contentious, and one major political party, the opposition Social Democrats, wants it reinstated. Even Engelhorn has also pushed for higher taxes for fellow millionaires and billionaires who control most of the world’s wealth.

Earlier in 2021, she co-founded the nonprofit Tax Me Now, with the aim to address income inequality in German-speaking countries. She says she inherited her wealth and therefore power without having to do anything for it. "And the state doesn't even want taxes on it,” she added in the BBC report.