A descendant of the Rothschild family has won a legal battle in Vienna for control of a £100 million trust set up by his ancestors but seized by the Nazis in 1938.
US citizen Geoffrey Hoguet only recently found out that his great-grandfather had set up a foundation for mental health and neurological conditions more than a century earlier, naming it in memory of his childless brother Nathaniel.
The Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild foundation has been administered by Austrian authorities since the war, but Hoguet’s lawyers successfully argued that in 2017 officials made themselves administrators and potential beneficiaries.
In 2002 one of foundation’s most valuable buildings, the Maria-Theresien-Schlössel, was sold by the charity’s administrators to the city of Vienna, at a price Hoguet says was well below market value.
Accusing Viennese authorities of “hollowing out” the trust, he called on politicians to “reinstate an independent governing board for the foundation and return the Nazi booty to serve its purpose as dedicated by my family”.
The large endowment and the clinics, deemed Jewish property, were taken by the Nazis in 1938, when the Rothschild family were forced to flee. The charity was reconstituted in 1956, once Austria had re-established sovereignty.
“My dream really would be, once the governance is restored, to turn it once again into a leading beacon for neurological and mental healthcare,” said Hoguet, who would not benefit financially. He added that he had a personal interest, because he was living with Parkinson’s disease.
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