Marlene Engelhorn the Austrian heiress who will donate her millions

Marlene Engelhorn, the Austrian heiress who will donate her millions to the “wise men”

Engelhorn has decided to form a group of fifty people living in Austria who will come together to decide how the 25 million euros from the inheritance should be spent wisely. In order to select the members, who must be representative of the country's population, ten thousand letters were sent to people selected by lottery: the letters contain a questionnaire and, based on the information collected, the 50 people who will have to meet in mid-2024 will be selected they decide how to use the money.

Not only may funds be allocated to entities that disregard human rights or violate the Austrian constitution, but profit-oriented activities are also excluded. The Group of Fifty will be called “Guter Rat”: Curiously, it is also the name of a monthly publication that was born and raised in the GDR, socialist East Germany.

Marlene Engelhorn, 32, did not say how much of the inheritance she benefited from. Estimates of the grandmother's assets totaled over four billion euros, a large part of which may have gone to the network of associations that the older woman, in turn the heir to the founder of the chemical giant BASF, had been financing for a long time. If young Marlene actually decided to distribute 90% of the estate, the sum she received would have to be in the order of 28 million. At least his decision.

Interestingly, Engelhorn apparently supports the inheritance tax, which was abolished in Austria 15 years ago. But he goes further: He demands that governments tax the rich more heavily. So much so that for years he has been climbing the Davos Alps during the world-famous summit to take part in demonstrations, carrying signs like “In Tax We Trust.” She is also one of the founders of the international movement Millionaires for Humanity and joins the Patriotic Millionaires. Last year she was among the signatories of an open letter to G20 leaders entitled “Tax Extreme Wealth”, which was signed by politicians, economists and very rich people: including – according to the weekly newspaper “Oggi” – 89 Britons , 64 Americans, 30 French, three Italians (the brothers Giorgiana and Guglielmo Notarbartolo di Villarosa and their mother Veronica Marzotto).

“I didn't do anything to get this inheritance,” Engelhorn said in 2002. “Pure luck, coincidence from birth.” And he added that money rarely brings happiness, more often it leaves you alone: ​​it's better to have it to share. The spirit and generosity with which Engelhorn decided on his initiative are undeniable. This is, among other things, a legacy that comes from the long history of BASF, a large German chemical company that, as part of the Ig Farben conglomerate, supported National Socialism in the 1930s and 1940s and more or less consciously encouraged its horrors: perhaps one All the more reason to feel “troubled” by such a legacy.

More controversial, however, is his role as an activist for higher wealth taxes, often alongside Oxfam, the organization that, among other things, publishes a much-criticized report every year on inequalities in the world: It's about determining who the less rich are among the rich makes, reduces poverty or makes the poor poorer. It is an open question that will be debated for many years to come. By summer we will know where the money from the Engelhorn inheritance is going.