Home » Heiress Seeks 50 Austrians to Give Away $27 Million

Heiress Seeks 50 Austrians to Give Away $27 Million

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Within the coming days, about 10,000 Austrians will discover an invite of their mailboxes from an heiress asking for his or her assist spending 25 million euros, or about $27.4 million, of her inheritance.

It’s not a rip-off or a intelligent advertising and marketing gambit. Reasonably, the heiress, Marlene Engelhorn, stated it was an try and problem a system that has allowed her to build up tens of millions of euros within the first place.

Ms. Engelhorn, 31, grew up in Vienna and for years has been campaigning for tax insurance policies that may redistribute inherited wealth and handle structural financial inequality.

With out these tax legal guidelines in place, she is popping to the general public to determine how her cash needs to be spent.

The ten,000 Austrians who obtain invites will probably be whittled right down to 50, with a aim of reflecting the nation’s inhabitants primarily based on demographics akin to gender, age and revenue. The group, referred to as the Guter Rat, or good council, will meet in Salzburg over six weekends this yr to debate one of the simplest ways to spend the cash.

“A superb plan wants many views,” Ms. Engelhorn stated in a press release on the project’s website. “Not simply from one particular person who occurs to have inherited. Just because I want to enhance the state of our society doesn’t imply that I’ve plan.”

Ms. Engelhorn’s inheritance originated with Friedrich Engelhorn, who based BASF, one of many world’s largest chemical firms, in 1865. Her household additionally owned Boehringer Mannheim, a pharmaceutical and medical diagnostic tools firm, till it was bought for $11 billion in 1997.

Earlier than the Guter Rat challenge was introduced on Tuesday, Ms. Engelhorn had publicly dedicated to making a gift of not less than 90 p.c of her multimillion-euro inheritance. She is a part of a small motion of the superrich who need not solely to redistribute their cash, but additionally to problem the constructions that allowed them to inherit their riches within the first place. Austria abolished its inheritance tax in 2008.

It’s not clear what proportion of her inheritance Ms. Engelhorn has pledged to the challenge, whose full identify is Guter Rat für Rückverteilung, or the great council for redistribution. Bernhard Madlener, a spokesman for the challenge, stated in an e mail that it was a “overwhelming majority.”

On Tuesday, the challenge mailed invites to 10,000 individuals in Austria who have been chosen at random from a nationwide database.

Individuals should be not less than 16 years outdated, however they don’t have to be an Austrian citizen or converse German.

The group will meet from March to June for professionally moderated discussions and can hear from consultants on points akin to wealth distribution and the way in which nongovernmental organizations are funded. There will probably be 15 replacement members chosen in case somebody can’t attend.

The Guter Rat members will probably be paid 1,200 euros, or about $1,314, for every weekend. The price of motels, meals and journey will probably be coated, as will prices to deal with issues that may stop individuals from attending, akin to youngster care and deciphering. The members will probably be nameless until they select to talk publicly.

There are limits on how the funds might be spent, based on the project website. The cash can’t go to teams or people who find themselves “unconstitutional, hostile or inhumane,” and it may possibly’t be invested in for-profit establishments. The cash can also’t be redistributed to group members or “associated events.”

If the group is unable to discover a extensively supported option to distribute the cash, it will likely be returned to Ms. Engelhorn.

The bizarre challenge is a departure from the strategies that some superrich individuals have used to unload their cash, akin to by creating foundations for causes they help or donating it to current teams. Ms. Engelhorn stated that these routes nonetheless gave the rich energy that that they had not earned.

In Ms. Engelhorn’s assertion in regards to the challenge, she stated that donating cash didn’t “resolve the issue of political failure,” and that it “grants me energy that I shouldn’t have.”

“Redistribution should be a course of that extends past me,” she stated.

After the Guter Rat is established, Ms. Engelhorn will withdraw from the challenge and relinquish all decision-making authority, based on the challenge’s web site.

“In fact, she reserves the suitable to proceed commenting on the matters of wealth distribution and redistribution, however she has no veto or related rights concerning the outcomes of the dialogue within the Council and the 25 million euros,” the web site says. “The Council decides.”

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