Not so nice

With a personal fortune worth just shy of $20 billion, Susanne Klatten ranks as Germany’s richest woman. She and her billionaire younger brother Stefan own a huge stake in BMW and a host of other enterprises.

But Klatten these days is feeling annoyed. She doesn’t feel her family is getting the appropriate respect. As the 57-year-old last month told a business journal: “Many believe that we are permanently sitting around on a yacht in the Mediterranean.” Having to be “a guardian of wealth,” Klatten continued, “has personal sides that aren’t so nice.”

Also not so nice: How Klatten’s family became fabulously rich in the first place. The family patriarch, Günther Quandt, ingratiated himself to Adolf Hitler early on and became one of Nazi Germany’s biggest armament tycoons, rising in 1939 to the status of “war economy führer.” Quandt’s battery plant would even have its own concentration camp, supplying slave labor. The Quandt family never publicly acknowledged any of this sordid history until after a  2007 documentary on the Quandts ran on German television. Not nice at all.  ( write regular short mini biographies of the very rich.  This typifies the “poor little rich girl” attitude of some.  When interviewed she complains about lack of respect.  For what, exactly?  The respect would be emerge were she to be seen to be making amends to the world for Günther Quandt‘s complicity in the grim crimes of Nazism, at the very least giving generously to the poor and to charity generally.  Most of us would put up with aspects of wealth that “aren’t so nice” for such a nest- egg.  But one of the things that is general and fairly predictable is that so many of the super-rich actually feel sorry for themselves, or pretend thus to feel.

As a follower of the thoughts of Epicurus I would like to think I would continue to live comfortably, yes, but give away the majority of such a huge fortune that neither I nor any of my descendants could possibly spend.  But then – would I? Easy to be holier than her, but in possession of $20 billion……….?

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