Scripps News Life


A young heiress is asking 50 people to help her give away $27.4M

A young heiress is asking 50 people to help her give away $27.4M
Posted at 12:03 PM, Jan 22, 2024

A multi-millionaire is inviting random people to an exclusive gathering in Salzburg, Austria. The purpose of the trip? To help her decide who should get her $27.4 million inheritance.

It sounds like the plot of a movie, but this isn’t the set-up for a “Clue” remake. The multi-millionaire in question, Marlene Engelhorn, is not a fictional character, but a 31-year-old heiress who wants to redistribute her wealth.

How did Engelhorn become one of the richest women in the world?

Her ancestor Friedrich Engelhorn was an industrialist who founded BASF in 1865. BASF went on to become the largest chemicals company in the world. Now Marlene Engelhorn controls the family’s millions as she inherited the family fortune when her grandmother died in September 2022.

But she’s not spending her millions on frivolous things. Instead, Engelhorn wants to use her inheritance to help as many people as possible.

Earlier this month, Engelhorn sent out 10,000 invitations to randomly selected Austrians. The lucky citizens who received an invitation in the mail can then register to participate in the Good Council for Redistribution. Once registered, 50 people will be chosen to convene in Salzburg to participate in a series of meetings with nonprofit organizations and other charities.

From there, the group will vote on who should receive $25 million of Engelhorn’s inheritance.

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

Participants will be paid for their efforts to the tune of around $1,300 (1,200 in euros) per weekend, and they will also receive compensation for travel and childcare.

Watch the Austrian heiress and activist explain her mission below on YouTube:

Since inheriting her fortune, Engelhorn has devoted her life to redistributing her wealth. She co-founded the nonprofit Tax Me Now in 2021, an organization that aims to address income inequality in German-speaking countries.

Engelhorn wants higher taxes for the millionaires and billionaires who control most of the world’s wealth. In 2008, Austria abolished inheritance tax, widening the gap between the country’s richest and poorest citizens.

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

Engelhorn’s Good Council for Redistribution will begin to convene in March.

Christoph Hofinger, Managing Director of the Foresight Institute, is helping with the initiative. He told the BBC that the 50 chosen Austrians will be a diverse group of all ages and backgrounds. They will be asked to “contribute their ideas in order to jointly develop solutions in the interests of society as a whole.”

In addition to these 50 people, 15 alternates will be chosen in case members cannot attend the planned sessions.

A young heiress is asking 50 people to help her give away $27.4M originally appeared on

> > SIGN UP for the Simplemost weekly newsletter < <

This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Check out Simplemost for additional stories.