Eva Rausing: Philanthropist and heiress who struggled against drug addiction

 

Eva Rausing, who has died aged 48, was one of Britain's richest women and part of a dynasty which owed its wealth to an everyday household item, the "Tetra Pak". The invention, which was first brought to market by her husband's grandfather, Ruben Rausing, revolutionised the transport and storage of milk and juices. Her father-in-law moved to the UK from Sweden in 1982 and sold his half-share of Tetra Pak in 1996, making $7 billion.

Eva Rausing was born in the US in 1964, the daughter of Nancy and Thomas Kemeny, an executive at Pepsi-Cola, and grew up in a wealthy and privileged environment. She met her husband, Hans Kristian Rausing, when they were patients at an American rehabilitation clinic.

Hans Kristian Rausing had drifted through life in the shadow of his father, Hans Rausing, and had travelled to India to "find himself". While Hans Kristian's sisters, Lisbet and Sigrid, have been actively involved in the worlds of business and philanthropy, it seems he had trouble coping with the family's immense fortune, together with the freedom and responsibility it brought.

In 2002 the couple purchased one of the 200 apartments on board The World, an exclusive cruise ship where the super-rich can claim an address on the open seas, and live tax free. When the couple's Cadogan Square house was sold in 2006 for over £12 million, they moved to a nearby address in Belgravia.

In an interview with Vogue that year, asked how she handled such wealth, she replied "Be open about it and be active with it." Asked why she found it so hard to refuse requests for money, she said "I would like to think it was guilt but I think it was probably shame, if I can make that distinction. People knew you had money, so you could never say, 'Come back next month.'" Explaining the change in direction towards a more disciplined philanthropy, she emphasised: "Once you start giving away large sums of money and you find the causes you're really interested in, then you can say no quite legitimately."

Organisations with which she became involved included the Mary Rose Trust, Royal Opera House and Prince's Foundation for Building Community. Two charities on which she focused particular attention, because of their work in preventing drug abuse, were Action on Addiction and the Mentor Foundation. She gave £100,000 to establish Mentor in 2000 and had since donated a further £500,000. Eric Carlin, Chief Executive of the charity, which tries to direct young people away from drugs, said: "If it wasn't for Mrs Rausing, I'm not sure we could have stayed afloat."

Her own struggle with drugs had first come to public attention in April 2008. She was arrested after she allegedly tried to bring a small quantity of heroin and crack cocaine into an event at the US Embassy in London's Grosvenor Square. A subsequent police search of their home found more heroin and crack, with a value of £2,000, and the couple were arrested and bailed. The Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges against them three months later on condition that they admit their guilt and agree to regular drugs tests.

Following the incident she said: "I have made a serious mistake which I very much regret. I intend to leave as soon as possible to seek the help that I very much need. I have made a grave error and I consider myself to have taken a wrong turn in the course of my life. I am very sorry for the upset I have caused. I thank my family and friends for their kindness and understanding."

Hank Dittmar, chief executive of the Prince's Foundation, of which she was a trustee, commented at the time: "We support Eva Rausing in her efforts to overcome her problems, and look forward to her completion of her treatment programme. She remains a dedicated member of the Prince's Foundation's board of trustees."

The event cast a spotlight on the normally private lives of the couple. Andy McSmith's feature for this newspaper at the time began: "If Hans K and his wife, Eva, were 25 years younger, you might think them the poor little rich kids. They were born into vast wealth, more money than anyone could spend in a lifetime, reckoned not in millions, but billions."

The circumstances of her death remain unclear. Hans Kristian Rausing was arrested on Tuesday 10 July at their home and then taken for medical treatment. A post-mortem that afternoon was unable to establish a clear cause of death for Eva.

Marcus Williamson

Eva Kemeny, heiress and philanthropist: born US 7 March 1964; married Hans Kristian Rausing (two boys, two girls); found dead, London 10 July 2012.

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker