Austrian billionaire Heidi Horten died Sunday at the age of 81, the Heidi Horton Collection said in a statement, just days after opening a private museum in Vienna with her nearly $1 billion art collection.
Horten died early Sunday morning at her home on Lake Wörther, Austria, in what the museum called a “completely unexpected death.”
Horten opened her own museum earlier this month with her private art collection, which has more than 16,000 square feet of exhibition space and is dedicated to emerging and mid-career artists, many of whom are Austrian.
Horten became an overnight sensation in the art collecting world in 1996, when she spent up to $22 million on art in a single Sotheby’s auction, acquiring pieces by Francis Bacon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Klee and others. .
The Heidi Horten Collection said it will commemorate the founder’s death for free from Monday next week.
$2.9 billion. That was Horten’s net worth on Sunday, making her the 1040th richest person on Earth, according to her Forbes‘ treasure.
Horten met her future husband, the founder of the German department store Horten AG, Helmut Horten, in a bar in Austria in 1959. When Helmut Horten died in 1987, Horten inherited a fortune of about $1 billion. Horten began collecting art before her husband’s death and eventually came into possession of hundreds of works, including pieces by Pablo Piccasso and Andy Warhol. In addition to her art patronage, Horten also chaired the KAC, an Austrian hockey team, and served on the board of Helmut Horten Stiftung, a charitable foundation that supports medical research and healthcare institutions.
“I am proud that with my collection and the building of the museum I have created something lasting that future generations will be able to experience when they visit my museum and enjoy the art that has brought me such joy for so long. Horten said in a statement posted to her museum’s website prior to her death.