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For World-Famous Banking Family, an Era Is Over

The Rothschilds sell off historic estate in Austria
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2019 2:40 PM CST
Baron Guy de Rothschild, left, curator of the Versailles castle, Gerald Van Der Kemp, second left, and Princess Grace of Monaco arrive at the Versailles castle for a gala evening, in this Nov. 28, 1973...   (AP Photo/Paul Roque, file)

(Newser) – Good on your 19th and 20th-century history? Then you'll appreciate that this marks the end of an era, Bloomberg reports. The Rothschild family, once the Habsburg empire's main financier, is selling its last piece of property in Austria. Family heir Bettina Burr has approved the sale of two trusts with roughly 17,300 acres of woodland in Lower Austria, part of an estate purchased by Baron Albert von Rothschild in 1875. The family's business in Austria actually goes back to 1815: "This brings an ambivalent 200-year relationship to an end," says historian Roman Sandgruber. "The Habsburgs respected the family, elevated them to nobility as they benefited from their finance knowledge. The Catholic Habsburgs, however, always kept a certain distance from the Jewish Rothschild family."

Indeed, Jews couldn't legally buy houses in Vienna in 1815, so founder Salomon Rothschild lived in a local inn. Growing in power, the family was allowed to buy property in 1843 but suffered economically during the 1930s financial crisis and later lost assets to the Nazis. Some were restored, and while the family's Austrian banking interests wound down in the 21st century, an heir lived on the forest property until her death in 2012. Now the Prinzhorn family—known for its paper, packaging, and recycling business—is buying the land for over $200 million. Filled with historic lodges, the popular hunting and fishing area also marks a unique holding for CEO Cord Prinzhorn: "A forest is not a yacht or a fast car," he tells Bloomberg. "It's a natural resource that yields timber, fish and meat over many generations." (Read more history stories.)

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