An Austrian Heiress Chose 50 Random People to Give Away Her $27 Million Fortune

Austrian heiress Marlene Engelhorn is leaving her $27 million inheritance in someone else’s hands.

Engelhorn, who inherited an eight-figure fortune from her late grandmother, made headlines when she announced that she is letting random strangers decided the fate of her unearned money, Time reported. The 32-year-old heiress and activist has committed to redistribute up to 90 percent of her tax-free wealth; in effort to give away those funds, she recruited a group of Austrian residents who then got to decide how it was spent.

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“I have inherited a fortune and therefore power without having done anything for it. And the state doesn’t even want to tax it,” she told BBC News in January.

According to Time, Engelhorn fired off approximately 10,000 emails and selected 50 candidates “who were designed to be as representative as possible of Austria’s demographics in terms of gender, ethnicity, and income.” The group, now officially known as the Good Council for Redistribution, recently picked 77 different organizations to receive cash from the bulk of Engelhorn’s inheritance.

Per the council’s website, the money couldn’t be dished out to any charities or people who are “unconstitutional, hostile, or inhumane.” In addition, the funds couldn’t be given to for-profit institutions or redistributed to group members or “related parties.” The biggest amount of cash was gifted to the Austrian Society of Nature Conservation, which received about $1.7 million. At the same time, a Vienna-based organization dubbed Neunerhaus was granted $1.6 million.

Aware of her own entitlement, Engelhorn, a descendant of Friedrich Engelhorn, the founder of one of the world’s largest chemical companies, told The New York Times that she plans on entering the workforce and paying taxes. “I’ll always be a privileged person from a wealthy background,” she said. “This is not changeable or deniable.”

Engelhorn has previously spoken out against philanthropy and is the cofounder Taxmenow, a campaign focused on combating wealth inequality. She initially announced her plan to pledge her fortune at a Millionaires for Humanity event in Amsterdam in 2022.

“If politicians don’t do their job and redistribute, then I have to redistribute my wealth myself,” she explained in her statement to BBC. “Many people struggle to make ends meet with a full-time job, and pay taxes on every euro they earn from work. I see this as a failure of politics, and if politics fails, then the citizens have to deal with it themselves.”

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