Merck Finck heir sues brothers for family bank sale to Barclays

'Black sheep' baron claims he was cheated by half-brothers who bought him out in 1985

An heir to the Merck Finck & Co dynasty is contesting the 1990 sale of the German private bank to Barclays.

Baron Helmut von Finck has filed a claim with Munich courts claiming that the will of his deceased father, August, stipulates that the family-owned bank should remain independent and that he should have received billions as his inheritance rather than the millions agreed with his half-brothers.

"The last will of my father was to hold the family empire together," Baron von Finck told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Now he wants his two half-brothers to be disinherited by the courts "because they broke with the terms of my father's will in selling Merck Finck & Co to Barclays".

Baron von Finck further aims to prove that he was not in a fit state to sign the 1985 contract which bought out his entitlement to one-third of his father's estate, worth billions, for DM65m. The implications for Barclays are unclear since Merck Finck was sold in 1999 to KBC for some £170m. Merck Finck refused to comment last week.

Baron von Finck was, by his own account, the black sheep of the family, and never spoke to his father after his 12th year. He led a wild existence in the 1980s, experimenting with LSD and group sex before joining the Bhagwan sect in the US. He ran a Munich disco called Confetti, and participated in "a mad hippie scene". He is now a reformed character, with adult children, and he is sure that the 1985 agreement will be nullified because of his then psychological state.

"I was being treated," he said. " There are enough witnesses and doctors' reports that confirm this." He considers himself cheated by his half-brothers.

His relationship with his father was extremely difficult, he admits. "He was very distant, never talkative, very serious, never fun." His father's will stipulated that he would not have control of his money before the age of 38.

Baron von Finck is now a multi-millionaire who is in property and runs a prize-winning horse stud on 80 hectares in north Germany. But compared with his siblings, he is poor.

His elder half-brother, Baron August von Finck Jnr, is estimated by Forbes to be worth €4.7bn, while the son of his now- deceased younger half-brother, Wilhelm, is estimated to be worth €1.7bn. Their Swiss-held fortune derives not only from the Merck Finck sale but also from extensive property around Munich, plus holdings in Mövenpick, a fast-food chain, Von Roll, an electrical insulation maker, and SGS, a quality-assurance firm.

Baron August von Finck Snr expanded the family's private bank by "Aryanising" Jewish banks in the Nazi era. A leading Nazi supporter, he took over the Austrian Rothschild bank in 1938 He was one of the group of industrialists that met Hitler in 1931 and promised financial support in the event of a successful putsch against the Weimar Republic. After the Second World War, he successfully defended his land holdings around Munich from land reform.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
Life and Style
food + drink
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...

Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith