THE secret will of Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda is set to give his children most of his £445million fortune, including his illegitimate son.
Lauda died aged 70 on 20th May in his sleep in Zurich, Switzerland, following a prolonged period of ill health.
His funeral, held in St Stephen’s Cathedral in the Austrian capital of Vienna, was attended by droves of Austrians.
International stars included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone.
Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen and recently ousted Chancellor Sebastian Kurz gave short eulogies.
The contents of Lauda’s will and the benefactors of his estate worth an estimated €500 million (£447.4million) was revealed by German magazine Bunte.
Lauda is said to have his entire estate tied up in a private foundation model which he first detailed in a will drafted in 1997 at a Viennese notary.
At that time, he decided that in the case of his death everything would go to ex-wife Marlene Knaus, 70, and his two children Lukas, 40, and Mathias, 38.
However, the racing legend would go on to change his will twice.
In 1999, he specified four trustees who would be tasked with distributing his inheritance after his passing, with one of the four being his lifelong friend Attila Dogudan.
And in 2014, Lauda made the last big changes to his will, which this time favoured his second wife Birgit, the couple’s nine-year-old twins Mia and Max as well as both of his sons Lukas and Mathias from his earlier marriage.
His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable
Niki Lauda's family, in a statement
Even though his four children and his widow Birgit will be the main benefactors, Lauda still reportedly set a significant sum aside for his first wife Marlene and for his illegitimate son Christoph.
According to local media, Lauda was still on good terms with Marlene who took turns with Birgit sitting beside his hospital bed in Zurich.
Lauda also added a passage in his will forbidding his heirs to pledge or cede assets to third parties.
If all direct heirs die out, any remaining money will reportedly go the Museum of Art History in Vienna.
The money would be earmarked to buy new works of art which then must be showcased with a sign with ‘NIKI LAUDA’ in upper case letters to remind the public who gifted the paintings.
Who was Niki Lauda?
Niki Lauda was an Austrian Formula One driver, who was born in 1949 in Vienna and died on May 20, 2019, in Vienna.
Lauda won three world titles as a Formula One driver in 1975, 1977 and 1984 with Mercedes and Ferrari.
He was the only driver in F1 history to have been champion for both Ferrari and McLaren, the sport’s two most successful constructors.
Outside of racing, Lauda founded three Austrian airlines, Lauda Air, Fly Niki, and Laudamotion.
He also served as a non-executive chairman of Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix.
Niki Lauda was the only driver in F1 history to become champion for both Ferrari and McLaren[/caption]
Niki Lauda with first wife Marlene Knaus[/caption]
How did he die?
The three-time F1 world champion passed away peacefully on Monday, May 20 – eight months after undergoing a lung transplant.
Lauda passed away at the age of 70, after his heartbroken family confirmed the sad news.
The Austrian racer underwent a lung transplant in August 2018 after falling ill with flu-like symptoms while on holiday in Ibiza.
He had the procedure in Vienna, with medics revealing he had been suffering from “severe lung disease”.
Since his lung transplant, the 70-year-old’s road to recovery has been slowed by setbacks including a flu infection.
Earlier this month, he was transferred to a private clinic so he could have dialysis treatment for his kidney problems.
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Speaking 10 days ago, his brother Florian said: “Niki is making progress but he is still in Switzerland”.
But it appears as though the F1 legend must have had a relapse.
Speaking about his health battle in 2018, the Austrian legend said: “I was in hospital until two days ago then I had permission to go home and I flew to Ibiza where I will spend Christmas with my family.
“I have to do six hours of training every day, helped by two trainers who don’t leave me for a second. But I am back in my own four walls, the air is clean, the weather is not inclement like in Austria.
“In a month they have told me I will be in top form and ready to go again. Doing what? My usual life – following Formula One, why not?”
The F1 hero’s Ferrari is reduced to scrap metal left after the fire that nearly cost Niki Lauda his life[/caption]
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