One of the most interesting aristocrats in recent European history – Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen-Bornemisza – was born on this day. Visitors to Madrid can hardly miss the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which is, together with the Prado and the Queen Sofia museums, one of the three most popular destinations for those desiring to see great art collections. Specifically, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza owned a vast collection of works of art, which was bought by Spain and turned into a museum.
Baron von Thyssen-Bornemisza was a descendant of German Thyssen family, which acquired its fortune in the steel and armaments industries. Their weapons factories were important for the arming of Hitler’s Nazi Germany before and during World War II. In 1999, the company Thyssen merged with another historical German giant – Krupp – to form a joint venture called “ThyssenKrupp AG”.
The mother of Baron Hans Heinrich was from the Hungarian noble family Bornemisza de Kászon et Impérfalva. The surname Bornemisza in Hungarian roughly means “drinker”. Hans Heinrich inherited the title of baron precisely by that Hungarian line, because Emperor Francis Joseph I allowed the Thyssen family to inherit the legacy of Hungarian Barons Bornemisza.
Baron Hans Heinrich was, therefore, of German-Hungarian origin. Born in the Netherlands, he had Swiss citizenship and a legal residence in Monaco for the sake of tax benefits. Furthermore, he lived mostly in England and Spain, which bought his art collection. He was married five times and his last wife was former Miss Spain Carmen “Tita” Cervera. The Baron’s daughter Francesca married Archduke Karl von Habsburg, so that the future heirs of the Hungarian and Austrian thrones are actually the Baron’s grandchildren.