Billionaire’s ‘nonsense’ money complaint

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Billionaire siblings Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt are used to a life of luxury — but they have revealed some serious downsides to life as a rich-lister.

In a recent interview with Manager Magazin, the German BMW heirs spoke about the common misunderstandings we plebs have about the harsh reality of inheriting a fabulous fortune.

The pair spoke about the burden associated with their wealth, and the jealousy it inspired in others.

“Many believe that we are permanently sitting around on a yacht in the Mediterranean,” Ms Klatten said, according to Bloomberg.

“The role as a guardian of wealth also has personal sides that aren’t so nice.”

Unsurprisingly, many social media users have been less than sympathetic, with one Twitter user slamming her “nonsense” complaint.

The siblings own almost half of luxury car brand BMW AG, and the Quandt family are reportedly the richest in Germany.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Ms Klatten is the second-wealthiest person in Germany with a net worth of $US18.6 billion, thanks to her BMW stake as well as interests in chemicals company Altana AG and carbon producer SGL Carbon SE.

media_cameraJan Klatten and his wife Susanne Klatten were rocked by a scandal in 2007 dubbed ‘the gigolo versus the billionaire’. Picture: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Mr Quandt is worth slightly less at $15.5 billion but also has interests in other businesses, while they both serve on the BMW board.

He told the publication his family were motivated by success rather than cash.

“For both of us, it’s certainly not the money that drives us,” he said.

“Above all, it is the responsibility of securing jobs in Germany.”

Mr Quandt also described the pressure he faced at age 30, when he was given his first seat on the board.

“My starting point was never: So, now I come and show everyone how it’s done,” he said.

“Instead, it was a constant questioning, associated with self-doubt.”

HEIRESS’S COLOURFUL LIFE

When Ms Klatten was just 16, police prevented a planned kidnapping of her and her mother Johanna, making headlines across the nation.

She has been described as “reclusive” since then, rarely participating in media interviews.

She met her husband Jan Klatten while she was completing an internship with BMW, but during that time she went by the surname “Kant” in order to keep a low profile.

Over the years there have been rumours Ms Klatten did not reveal her true identity to her future husband for some time in order to make sure his intentions were legitimate.

The relationship flourished though — they married in 1990, and later welcomed three children.

But in 2007, Ms Klatten made headlines again after she was blackmailed by Swiss playboy Helg Sgarbi, who seduced her and then threatened to leak their affair to the public.

media_cameraBusinesswoman Susanne Klatten is the second-richest person in Germany. Picture: Sina Schuldt/dpa

The case was dubbed “the gigolo versus the billionaire”, and Mr Sgarbi eventually pleaded guilty after attempting to extort millions from a number of rich women.

At the time, the UK Guardian revealed Mr Sgarbi allegedly threatened to send an incriminating video to both Mr Klatten and the BMW board if Ms Klatten refused to hand over cash, writing in a letter, “While your risk is very high, my risks are irrelevant.”

He was sentenced to six years in prison.

BMW’S CHANGING FORTUNES

Herbert Quandt — who died in 1982 — accumulated much of the family’s fortune in the ’50s when he helped transform ailing BMW into the thriving business it is today.

His father Günther Quandt owned a group of businesses, including a 30 per cent stake in BMW and a 10 per cent slice of Daimler-Benz, and in 1959 BMW was struggling so badly its management suggested selling the company to Daimler-Benz.

Herbert Quandt was about to agree, but had a last-minute change of heart — instead increasing his share in BMW to 50 per cent — and risking his personal wealth in the process.

Then, in 1962, the BMW 1500 model was launched and was the first of its kind to sit between mass and craftsman-produced vehicles.

It was a hit — and when Mr Quandt’s half-brother Harald died in an accident in 1967, he inherited even more shares in BMW and other companies.

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au

Originally published as Billionaire’s ‘nonsense’ money complaint



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