• Global Courtyard Dual Loyalties: The Far-Right Flemish Who Sold His Soul and Secrets to China

Who. A 30-year-old woman who has inherited several tens of millions of euros from her grandmother's fortune. What. She believes that the decision of what to do with so much money should not be up to her, but to the state. Why. Engelhorn is anti-capitalist and has set up a foundation for the heirs of large amounts to renounce them.

With the Christmas draw this week there will be new millionaires in Spain and if any of the winners resembled the Austrian Marlene Engelhorn, she would ask the Treasury to apply more taxes than they should. Because that's how this Austrian of German origin is, a millionaire by inheritance who doesn't want to be. Engelhorn, 30, an anti-capitalist and queer, inherited a fortune from his grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto, surnames that readers of the economics pages would soon associate with the pharmaceutical company Boehringer and the German consortium BASF, the largest chemical group in the world. The woman, who died in Switzerland at the age of 94, had a net worth of 4.200 billion euros, according to Forbes magazine.

Marlene has only inherited a few tens of millions, but she wants to get rid of 90% because she believes that the decision on what to do with money that has fallen from the sky should not be hers but the state's.

Marlene grew up in a house where she lost how big she was and without knowing what desire was because she had everything, she has embraced class consciousness. He is a board member of "Guerrilla", a Berlin-based foundation that supports grassroots activists and movements in building pockets of resistance and radical social change. She collaborates with the "queerconnexion" project, which provides LGBTI education to young people, and, as an unwitting millionaire heiress, founded AG Steuersrechtigkeit, (Tax Justice), a movement that has mutated throughout Europe as Taxmenow or Millionaires for Humanity, in February 2021. The idea is for the heirs of large fortunes to forgo them in favor of a higher tax rate, "as someone who enjoyed the benefits of wealth all their lives, I know how skewed our economy is and I can't just sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," he says. It has collected 44,000 signatures, but only 50 come from millionaires.

Marlene doesn't garner much sympathy, but she talks about her case because she can't campaign for fair taxation of wealth and at the same time be non-transparent. "I'm looking for a public debate" because "being rich implies power and in a democracy power is not a private matter," argues a millionaire who considers it "unfair and undemocratic that only a few inherit large sums of money and the majority are left with nothing," or that those who made the accumulation of wealth possible are not recognized.

"I haven't done anything to be rich. In my case it was the people who worked at Böhringer Mannheim, the company in which my late grandfather had shares, and the people in the companies in which the money is currently invested. None of them benefit from that, only me," Marlene laments and continues: "Decisions should not be made by individuals who have been lucky in the birth lottery, because we have a system for that: elected parliaments. It is an impertinence to society that I am allowed to have this power. You can't trust the goodwill of the rich."

Marlene inherited two years ago, but she still doesn't know how to get rid of her millions. Start a company and wait to go broke? She doesn't have the soul of an entrepreneur. Any NGOs? Not at all. Donations? No way. "Philanthropy only accentuates inequalities," he says.

What a dilemma Marlene Engelhorn is.

  • Global Courtyard