Born in Vienna, Lugner got a licence to work as a building contractor (Baumeisterkonzession) in 1962 and at first specialized in the erection of filling stations and the renovation of old buildings. His company started to prosper, and he eventually became known to a wider public with the completion, in 1979, of Vienna's first mosque, situated on the banks of the river Danube. In 1990 he opened his own shopping mall, Lugner City, in a working class district of Vienna and, from the start, aggressively advertised his business by regularly inviting celebrities—starting with Thomas Gottschalk—who would perform there and sign autographs—a marketing strategy not very common in a city that, back then, hardly had any shopping malls. In 1992 Mörtel and Mausi Lugner brought Harry Belafonte to Lugner City, and also took him along to the Vienna Opera Ball. From that time on, the couple have each year paid a celebrity to visit the shopping centre and then accompany them as their guest to that prestigious function at the Vienna State Opera, an "invitation" which has often been criticised or just belittled for being a nouveau riche idea. However, media attention has continually been rising, also abroad, so that today any official guests of honour are usually neglected compared to the Lugners' celebrities, who invariably have a status image:
Through his shopping mall, Lugner was one of a small group of businesspeople who helped change Austrians' shopping habits by pushing to the limits the various regulations concerning opening hours. In a city where shops generally closed at 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and at noon on Saturdays to remain closed for more than one and a half days until Monday morning, Lugner strongly advocated late night shopping on at least one weekday and an extension of shopping hours to Saturday afternoon, even when that meant raising the trades unions' opposition.
Die Lugners ("The Lugners") was a reality TV show produced by a private television broadcaster which showed Richard and Christina Lugner, their daughter, Jacqueline (born 1993), and Richard Lugner's mother-in-law, Martha Haidinger, at home, at work, and on holiday.
Christina Lugner has co-written a book, Fit für die Society. Wie Frauen sich erfolgreich machen ("Fit for Society. How Women Make Themselves Successful", 2004) (ISBN 3-7015-0473-3), in which she advises career women on questions of etiquette.