Art Collector and Billionaire Heidi Goess-Horten Deceased

More+Work & Careers ♦ Published: June 13, 2022; 15:50 ♦ (Vindobona)

The famous Austrian billionaire Heidi Goëss-Horten died unexpectedly this weekend at her home on Lake Wörthersee. Horten was best known for her great passion for art and her large collection of artworks. She passed away at the age of 81. If you want to learn more about this great Austrian personality, read her obituary here.

Heidi Goëss-Horten passed away unexpectedly this weekend. / Picture: © The Heidi Horten Collection

Austria mourns the art collector, billionaire widow and honorary president of the ice hockey club EC KAC Heidi Goëss-Horten, who was found on Sunday morning completely unexpectedly death in her house at the Wörthersee. The well-known Austrian woman died at the age of 81 years.

She became known for her multifaceted commitment, especially to the arts and sports, particularly as president of the KAC, an Austrian ice hockey club.

Her life

Heidi Goëss-Horten was born in Vienna on February 13, 1941, under her maiden name, Jelinek. She first appeared in public at the age of 19 when she met her future husband, German department store owner Helmut Horten, 32 years her senior, in Velden am Wörthersee and married him in 1966. Helmut Horten was a German businessman who had achieved some wealth through the acquisition of department stores in the course of the Aryanization during the Nazi era.

The marriage was characterized by a shared interest in art. Together, the two laid the foundation for their extensive art collection in the 1970s, accompanied by numerous studio visits and trips to experience art on site and to understand it in its making.

In 1987, however, her husband died and left the now widowed Heidi Horten the proceeds of the department store group sold during Helmut Horten's lifetime, amounting to around 1 billion US dollars.

In 1994, the widowed Horten married the French flower wholesaler Jean-Marc Charmat at the millionaires' club Lyford Cay in the Bahamas and took his name. The marriage was divorced in 1998. Heidi Charmat took the name Horten again and was able to increase her fortune with the divorce.

In 2015, she finally married Karl Goess, whose last name she took in her double name.

Great art collector

With the advice of her friend and artistic confidante Agnes Husslein, after the death of her first husband Helmut Horten, Heidi Horten expanded the art collection she had begun during his lifetime over the following decades from the inherited and increased assets.

The private collection assembled by Goëss-Horten, described as "one of the most impressive private collections in Europe," includes works from the Fin de Siècle period such as Gustav Klimt's Church in Unterach and Egon Schiele's Red Wally, French Impressionists such as Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, as well as paintings by the "superstars" of German Expressionism and from modern classics to contemporary art.

Only a few days before her passing, a new museum was opened in Vienna's 1st district, displaying the Heidi Horten Collection on a total of 1,500 square meters. The main task of the new museum was to make it possible to experience her collection in all its facets and to present special exhibitions on themes specific to the collection. The Museum of the Heidi Horten Collection (Palais Goëss-Horten) was to add another highlight to the Viennese art and cultural scene.

Patron of the sport

During the 1990s, Horten discovered her great passion for ice hockey and the Klagenfurt ice hockey club EC-KAC. She supported the club for many years as a generous patron, before finally being appointed honorary president of the club in 2010. As such, she has been involved in all important decisions since then, and her central position was formally sealed in the spring of 2021 when she was elected president of the EC-KAC.

Heidi Horten Collection