By on September 20, 2010

If you are one of the richest car executives of the world, if you have “about twelve children. You never can tell for sure”, if those children are from four different women (I did not say wives), and if you are 73, you slowly start doing some estate planning.  That’s exactly what Ferdinand Piech, Emperor of Volkswagen and Porsche, did. His heirs are livid.

According to a report in the German Focus magazine, the potent patriarch transferred his shares to two trusts, called “Ferdinand Karl Alpha” and “Ferdinand Karl Beta.” As long as Ferdinand is alive, he calls the shots at the trusts.  After Piech has gone to the great design studio in the sky, the shares can only be sold after the managing board and the advisory board of the trust plus at least 9 of the 12 children voted yes. In other words: When hell freezes over.

It is understandable that the heirs are not enthused. Piech thinks that he has “the support of the majority of my heirs.” In his case, that could be 7 out of 12 children. Some are considering taking their dad to court, writes Focus. Especially the children that were born out of wedlock feel slighted: They get less than their more legitimate brothers and sisters. Piech’s current wife and former nanny of his children, Ursula Piech, will receive a central position in the trust. But Piech doesn’t want her to go to other owners either: Should she divorce him, or should she marry after Piech’s death, she’ll lose everything.

PS: The second to last word in the headline is an engineering term …

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25 Comments on “Ferdinand Piech’s Last Will And Testament: Screw You...”

  • avatar

    The problems are the wealthy are fascinating.  I went to a private school for a few years—on scholarship—and the family dynamics of some of my former classmates were really interesting; I’d never heard of children having their own lawyers, for example.
    Thankfully, I’ll probably have exhausted whatever wealth I have sending my kids to post-secondary and will be leaning on the, so I’d better not piss them off.

    • 0 avatar

      You aren’t kidding. I know a bunch where dad had three families, one right out of high school (2 daughters), another one when he was about 35 (two sons), and a third at almost 60 (A son and daughter). The first two kids married into families with as much or more money as they did, and the last two inherited most of dad’s assets with the exception of dad’s share of the family business, the middle sons got that, shared with cousins, but they have 50% of it between the two of them, and have a ton of money.
      When the middle sons were about 12, a mutual friend was reading the paper and the first wife’s obit mentioned she was married to him and they had two daughters, and he casually asked the two sons, “Hey, so where do your older sisters live?” They looked like someone had told them Hitler was their dad. Not only didn’t they know he had been married before, but they had never heard of their two older sisters, who lived less than 2 miles away until they married a year or so before!
      I would have loved to have overheard the conversation at dinner that night. From what I heard, dad didn’t make the same mistake with the third family, he told the kids and had the older half brothers and sisters visit often.
      People who grow up rich are definitely living in another world.

  • avatar

    The Porsche family curse redux. Didn’t they have the exact same problem in 1972? The family was ousted from the daily politics altogether. Or something like that… How much of the Porsche empire is Piech worth personally?

  • avatar

    there is a solution for the children who want to sell their shares and the children who want to keep their shares. They can all vote to sell their shares and the children who don’t want to sell their shares can buy it back. The shares should be sold to an entity that will sell shares back to the children who wanted to keep them, at the price they paid for it. The third party entity can stay with the shares of the children who wanted to sell them. the only issue is to find or create (via friends or family) a third party who will agree to this arrangement and be trusted to sell the shares back the price they paid for them. The board of trustees should approve this arrangement, if they don’t I don’t know what to do. Of course some money will be lost (in fees, taxes and other things), or the third party might not want to do this pro bono. If this is the case the children who want to cash in their shares should put up the money, though loans (collateral being the shares) this should be done only if money is required to be paid before the exchanges take place. If money is required to be paid after the exchanges take places, the children who wanted to cash in their shares should pay for all the cost; this is because the children who want to remain with all the shares are probably penny pinchers who want to keep all the shares value; and the children who want to sell their shares; want to get  access and control over their wealth and probably won’t mind paying for it.

  • avatar

    Tagged as… Volkswange
    You went one step too far.

  • avatar

    Nothing describes this better than F. Scott Fitzgerald in “The Rich Boy” (1926), paragraph 3: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.”

    BTW, is Ferdl’s wife that famous German drag queen?

    • 0 avatar

      How do you define “rich”?  As far as I’m concerned, the threshold of rich is $10 million in net worth not counting primary residence.

    • 0 avatar

      BTW, is Ferdl’s wife that famous German drag queen?

      I hope that’s not the female in the photo – (OK, I’ll say it) for an older gal she has some nice knockers.

    • 0 avatar

      Have a look at this link
      If you define “rich” as “over the 50% line”, then it’s ~$44,000.  More than half the people in the US make less than that. If you mark it 75%, it’s ~$80,000.  at 95%, ~$100,000. At 98% it’s ~$250,000.
      What this means is twofold: people who make $100K and don’t see themselves as “rich” are either living a high-cost life and/or delusional.  You’re “rich”, you just don’t realize it.  It also means that wealth concentration is a real problem, and not one that’s getting better.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, Business Week sez Ferdel is worth 7 billion dollars …  I guess by any definition, or metric, he is, as as one of Hudsucker’s finance-guy said:  “[He’s] loaded.”

    • 0 avatar
      Brian E

      What this means is twofold: people who make $100K and don’t see themselves as “rich” are either living a high-cost life and/or delusional.

      Either that or they’re living a lower-debt lifestyle. It’s very possible for someone making $50k and someone making $100k to have the same standard of living, but the former is spending wildly on debt and getting repeatedly bailed out by the taxes of the $100k folks, and the latter is debt-averse and living within their means.

    • 0 avatar

      Either that or they’re living a lower-debt lifestyle. It’s very possible for someone making $50k and someone making $100k to have the same standard of living, but the former is spending wildly on debt and getting repeatedly bailed out by the taxes of the $100k folks, and the latter is debt-averse and living within their means.

      Here in America, the reverse is true (50k guys constantly bailing out the 100k guys.) See financial “services” industry, 2007-2010.

    • 0 avatar

      @Psar: Only if you assume a constant slope to the TCOL curve. -When it’s really more log or exponential.
      There are millionaires in NYC who live like rats because of the Total Cost of Living.
      There was an article in the NYT about 3-ish years ago, that $200k is now the benchmark that $100k used to be back in the late 80s-early/mid 90s.
      You should try reading about the guys at Bear and Lehman who went bankrupt borrowing on spec & living beyond their means at multimlliondollar jobs.
      @skor: I agree.
      If you have enough net worth invested to stop working today and have enough income after taxes each year to be +/- independent, with your capital earning avg. 8%, then you’re +/- “Rich”.
      That also includes having 1.5x the length of the worst recession of your ‘yearly salary’ set aside in emergency cash money market acct.

    • 0 avatar

      My wife worked for an insurance agency that specialized in selling doctors disability insurance, you would be amazed at the number of them making high 6/low 7 figures without a single cent in savings or retirement and were one paycheck from losing everything.

      Rich would be defined (atleast to me) as being at a point financially (both through savings and realistic spending habits) that you could take what you have, invest in insured tax-free muni bonds and live the lifestyle you enjoy on the interest.

    • 0 avatar

      That older girl is 19 years younger than Ferdinand.

  • avatar

    Hopefully, his trust funds will come with an extended warranty.


  • avatar

    So I guess Piech has decided against giving most of his money away to charity when he dies.  Bill Gates and Warren Buffett owe him a call.
    I sort of get the the heir’s frustrations philosophically (especially the illegitmate ones), but if they’re getting 1-2 million a pop, they ought to shut their traps, get to work and build lives for themselves.  That’s a helluva lot for being a member of the lucky sperm club.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    So what? Who cares? Another rich guy who thinks he can run his kids lives after he is dead. The sad thing is that it never works out very well. About the only thing the rich parent can do is to turn their children into dependent emotional cripples.

  • avatar

    skor: “How do you define “rich”?” If I was out of debt I’d feel rich.

    Seriously though….no wait, I was being serious.

    But really, seriously, where is it written, whoever said that you have to leave your wealth to anyone? I think that if I had kids who only saw me as a bank account, all they’d get from me would be a Russian Popsicle.

  • avatar

    I’m the 13th heir, I just know it…(note to self…forge some travel documents to Germany in the late 1960’s with my mother’s maiden name on them)

    I’d be happy to settle for access to either the Alpha or Beta trusts, and I won’t give ya any backtalk or grief, like your other spoiled rotten brats…so how about it Daddy Ferdinand? Oh yeah, and can I have a new 911 for my next birthday? Bitte?

  • avatar

    I say limit the rich to a Billion dollars of wealth. This is some pretty sick way to about money.

  • avatar

    Did the children actually earn that money? Useless brats.

  • avatar

    The ultimate, and more correct, technical version would be something like “Threaded-fastener you!”  THis, however, lacks the simplicity and poetry of “Screw you!”

  • avatar

    The second to last word in the headline is also a nautical term. Ask Bertel about his yacht.

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