Heinrich Thyssen

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Heinrich Thyssen (31 October 1875 – 26 June 1947), after 22 June 1907 Heinrich, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon et Impérfalva, was a German-Hungarian entrepreneur and art collector.


Thyssen was born in Mülheim an der Ruhr, the second son of German industrialist August Thyssen. Heinrich Thyssen had abandoned Germany as a young man and, after studying chemistry at the University of Heidelberg and philosophy at the University of London and obtaining a doctorate, he settled in Hungary in 1905 and married Baroness Margit Bornemisza de Kászon et Impérfalva (Csetény, Veszprém, 23 July 1887 – Locarno, 17 April 1971) in Vienna or Budapest on 4 January 1906 and became a citizen of Austria-Hungary.

In Vienna on 22 June 1907 he was adopted by his father-in-law, Gábor, Baron Bornemisza de Kászon et Impérfalva (Kolozsvár, 20 April 1859 – Budapest, 21 April 1915), the King's chamberlain who, having no sons of his own, adopted Heinrich. Franz Joseph I of Austria, Emperor-King of Austria-Hungary granted him the hereditary title and rank of a baron in the Hungarian nobility in 1907. His mother-in-law was English American Mathilde Louise Price (Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, 14 March 1865 – Locarno, 19 January 1959 and married at Vienna on 16 May 1883), who was a sister of Anne Hollingsworth Price (wife of Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince of Ardeck) and they were descendants of the Winthrop family, and related to Daniel M. Frost and John Kerry.[1]

The couple lived at the castle of Rohonc until after World War I and the uprising of Béla Kun, when they fled and moved to The Hague in the Netherlands from whence they directed some of the Thyssen commercial and industrial interests, including the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart. In 1926 he had refused to participate in the Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG, founded by his elder brother Fritz Thyssen, although becoming a board member, but kept his own inherited wealth, including his father's foreign investments and some German companies apart from the Thyssen steelworks, in a separate organization, the August Thyssensche Unternehmungen des In- und Auslandes, GmbH, today Thyssen-Bornemisza Group Holdings N.V. (TBG).

In 1932, he moved to Lugano and started to enlarge his art collection, to which he had already been adding new items since the 1920s. His preference was for classic and modern painting, although he disliked 20th-century painting. Among other works, he bought from the estate of the American banker Otto Hermann Kahn, Maecenas of the Metropolitan Opera House of New York, in 1935, the painting Portrait of a Knight by Vittore Carpaccio, which currently remains in the collection. In Europe he bought from many famous collections other famous paintings such as the portrait of Henry VIII of England by Hans Holbein the Younger from the Spencer collection.

Thyssen divorced his first wife on 17 March 1932 and married Else Zarske, known as Maud (born in Thorn on 17 April 1909), at Brussels on 29 August 1932. Maud was maintaining an affair with Georgian polo player Alexis Mdivani which was revealed in 1935 following her car accident in which Mdivani died.[2][3] They divorced in 1937 without issue. He married his third wife, Gunhild von Fabrice (born in Magdeburg on 5 March 1908) in Berlin on 15 November 1937. He died in Lugano in 1947.


His children by first marriage were:


  1. ^ The Ancestors of Senator John Forbes Kerry (b. 1943)
  2. ^ Moats, Alice-Leone (1977). The Million Dollar Studs (1st ed.). New York: Delacorte Press. p. 126.
  3. ^ "Baroness Maud von Thyssen is injured in accident with Prince Alexis Mdivani, Berlin, 1935", UCLA Library Digital Collections, Los Angeles Times, August 1935.
  4. ^ Kilander, Gustaf (26 October 2022). "Manhattan hospital reveals mystery patient is a European baroness. Now they need her $600k medical bill paid". Independent. Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  5. ^ Whether Margit herself personally killed anyone at the party is disputed."The killer countess: The dark past of Baron Heinrich Thyssen's daughter". The Independent. London. October 7, 2007. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008. Retrieved May 4, 2010.

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  • Partially translated from the German Wikipedia from February 5, 2006
  • 1 See Independent Article: „The killer countess: The dark past of Baron Heinrich Thyssen's daughter“ of 07.10.2007 [1]

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