“I must confess that, although in business matters the letters have often advised me well, when it comes to my love life I have not been able to read my future. At least with regard to my first four marriages. When I analyze my love life, I always come to the same conclusion: until I met Carmen, I had no luck in love ”.
Hans Heinrich von Thyssen-Bornemisza (April 13, 1921 – April 26, 2002) finally found what he was looking for together with Carmen Cervera. This is how he explains it in his memoir I, Baron Thyssen. On the road traveled to find happiness without buts, the baron tried with four other women. This is his story.
First wedding, in 1946
From the union with Teresa zur Lippe Georg Heinrich was born, in intimate circles, Heini Jr. and who today holds the barony linked to his surname. He ended his father in court
His first marriage was in 1946 with the Austrian Teresa zur Lippe. Daughter of the daughter of Prince Alfred de Lippe-Weissenfeld and Countess Franziska of Schönborn-Buchheim, her line (Haus Lippe) was the reigning house in several lander Germans until the unification of the country. The baron says in his memoirs that that one, celebrated in Villa Favorita (Lugano, Switzerland), was a marriage of little illusion that simply united two noble houses but that aroused the misgivings of his father, who preferred not to attend the wedding: only the Thyssen-Bornemisza were billionaires.
From the union was born Georg Heinrich, in intimate circles, Heini Jr. and who today holds the barony linked to his compound surname. The manifest catholicity of his wife was not an obstacle for him to understand with the husband of his older sister, a reason that ended a marriage already touched and in which there was never true love.
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About six million francs
In the throes of his marriage, Dyer began spending heavily, especially on fashion. It was Hubert de Givenchy himself who warned the Baron
In 1953 he began an idyll with the English model Nina Dyer and in whose bedroom honeys the German drank so much that he gave her an island in the Caribbean, two sports cars with gold-plated keys, a black panther and a fortune in jewels. He married her as soon as he obtained a divorce from Teresa, in 1954.
The baron later heard that she seduced him when she became acquainted with the heritage linked to her compound surname, however, it seems that time and the pleasant memory erased any pain: “At that time I would have given the same. Making love with her was wonderful, ”he says in his memoirs.
Even though his fortune was enormous, Dyer managed to annoy him: in the throes of his marriage he began to spend heavily, especially on fashion (six million francs at the time, about one million euros). It was Hubert de Givenchy himself who warned the Baron of such a huge break. Added to the fact that the young woman got tangled up with a low-flying French actor, the divorce was a done deal. Years later, Dyer would take his life in Paris.
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A non-biological child
Fiona Campbell, an English model, was unfaithful to him with a modest French actor and gave him two children, Francesca and Lorne; the baron claimed that the child was not his
His third wife was also a model and also English, Fiona Campbell-Walter whose motto in the 50s was to be ‘the most beautiful in Vogue’. The daughter of a Vice Admiral in the Royal Navy and the granddaughter of a Conservative MP, in the Baron’s eyes she was attractive enough and refined enough to perfectly suit his tastes. He married her in 1956, Fiona left her profession and they settled in Villa Favorita. They had two children, Francesca and Lorne.
The marriage failed because, according to our protagonist, she “took her newly received title of baroness too seriously”, ordering everyone, making and undoing, and she adored being in the pink press. But, of course, it also had a lot to do with his being unfaithful. A disloyalty with a face and eyes: those of the film director Sheldon Reynolds that the German nobleman claims were those of his legitimate but not biological son Lorne.
There was more: Heinrich Thyssen said that Campbell was sure that he also slept with his daughter’s boyfriend, a morbidness too hard to accept. The divorce occurred shortly after Lorne’s birth, in 1964.
But he attended her funeral, years later
Denise Shorto’s was her costliest divorce. They ended up in court and she got a compensation of one hundred million euros
The fourth attempt came in 1967 with Denise Shorto, the daughter of a wealthy Brazilian banker and from whom he would find it harder to divorce. Not for the sentimental but for the money. The baron regrets that he was not imposed in the prenuptial agreement of separation of property. Again infidelity, in this case with an Italian playboy, dynamited a marriage from which their fourth child, Alexander, was born.
The breakdown took them to court, where she sued for Thyssen’s true fortune, much higher than the declared 400 million pounds, to emerge, while he denounced her for misappropriation of certain very valuable family heirlooms.
The lawsuit did not go well for the Baron: Shorto had no difficulty in proving in court that a 107 carat diamond set in a 2.3 million euro necklace was a gift created for her, as featured in the dedicated inscription of Hans Heinrich Thyssen. Thus, Shorto divorced with a compensation of one hundred million euros.
Rising media star
His fifth and final wife had a lot of world, two divorces and an interview as a model and actress in La Vanguardia
Finally, the baron succeeded. Part of the secret of the success of his marriage with Tita Cervera may be found in how Carmen behaved when they met. It was in 1981, during a vacation on the Emerald Coast (Sardinia): in the initial flirtation and in the days that would come after, Tita was made to beg. It was difficult for him to conquer her.
In addition, she had a known past that drew her as a struggling and worldly woman: Miss Spain in 1961 and third in Miss World that same year, she was a model and actress, lived a failed marriage with Espartaco Santoni and became the widow of the actor from Hollywood Lex Barker… She had even been interviewed in a general information newspaper. Naturally, the first interview of his life was for The vanguard.
The couple kept their courtship secret while the courts settled the costly divorce between the baron and Denise Shorto to marry four years later, in 1985. Heinrich loved Carmen so much that he adopted their single son, Borja. However, the baron’s sons – who were already getting on badly with him – made common cause against her; Francesca even christened her ‘evil stepmother’. It did not help at all that Tita was able to convince him to establish in Spain, in 1992, the private Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, possibly the most important in the world.
THE Basel pact
The baron put peace to the open war within his family by gathering them all together and dividing his vast inheritance into five trusts
On February 15, 2002, Heinrich Thyssen put peace to the open war within his family by bringing everyone together and dividing his vast inheritance into five trust, a legal figure of Anglo-Saxon law that allows the transfer of assets under certain rules, something similar to a directed inheritance. At the beginning of the 90s, he already did it with his business holding, a conglomerate of 235 companies that divided among the trust Continuity, Arch y Vlaminck.
On this occasion, in the so-called ‘Basel pact’, he established one for each son and another for his wife. Borja was not the owner of any – his half-brothers radically opposed it – but he included him as a beneficiary of the trust called ‘Caravaggio’, also granting a substantial financial compensation to be received in three installments. The baron wanted to say goodbye like the lord he was.
Two months later, Heinrich Thyssen died in the Mas Mañanas mansion (Sant Feliú, Girona) together with the wife who best loved him.