Johanna Quandt, the billionaire widow of BMW savior Herbert Quandt, has died at the age of 89. Johanna Quandt, Germany’s second-richest woman behind her daughter, Susanne Klatten, began her relationship with BMW in 1950s when she went to work first as a secretary and then as personal assistant to Herbert Quandt. They married in 1960 and had two children, Stefan Quandt and Susanne Klatten.
After Herbert’s death in 1982, Johanna Quandt inherited a 16.7 percent stake in Munich-based BMW, the largest single holding in the company. Johanna Quandt’s net worth of $11.5 billion ranked 98th in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and eighth within Germany. Together, the family owns 46.6 percent of BMW. Her shareholding in the world’s biggest luxury carmaker will remain in the family, foundation spokesman Joerg Appelhans said.
“For over 50 years Johanna Quandt has acted for BMW with enthusiasm and passion,” BMW Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger said in a statement. “She gave the company support and stability.”
In 1995, she set up a foundation that supports business journalism, and also funds cancer research and the arts. Johanna Quandt, who rarely spoke to the media while supporting journalists through her foundation, remained on the company’s supervisory board until she stepped down in 1997.
She is survived by her two children.