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Crystal heiress in court over charity donations

The Local · 16 Dec 2015, 14:04

Published: 16 Dec 2015 14:04 GMT+01:00

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One of the heirs to the Swarovski fortune, she is well known for her love of animals, and once famously booked a private jet to fly a stray kitten 310 miles to a high-end vet in Vienna.

The generous act that was reported worldwide resulted in her getting an invite to act as an ambassador for the Vienna Animal Ball where she was asked to persuade her society contacts to part with donations and to attend the event.

The contribution included persuading the Swarovski firm to donate €50,000 and then a further €25,000 to the organisers of the ball, which was the 'Event & Platform against animal suffering'.

However, they now claim that there are irregularities between the money she collected and what they were given, and have taken her to court to demand that she declare all the donations that she received.

They point out for example that the €50,000 from Swarovski was passed over, but that the €25,000 was not.

The lawyer for the animal welfare association Udo Hansmann said: "We want to know how much money she was given and what happened to the money." The court case will take place on January 13th in Innsbruck.

He also wants compensation for the damage to the reputation of the event organised by the animal welfare group.

Fiona's lawyer Hermann Holzmann however has rejected the allegations and said: "There is no money missing." He says that the suggestion that €25,000 had vanished into dubious channels was ridiculous.

The rich socialite is married to former Austrian finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser.

The Swarovski crystal company, which is based in Innsbruck, is run by her conservative family that have often clashed with her over outrageous behaviour.

She has four children from four different marriages, but insists on using her maiden name rather than calling herself Fiona Pacifico Griffini-Grasser.

She was linked with Formula 1 boss Flavio Briatore, the father of one of model Heidi Klum's children, before she married Grasser - a former protege of notorious far-right politician Jörg Haider.

There were reports that the firm's press spokesman, her cousin Markus Langes-Swarovski, had tried to take legal steps to stop her using the name after she suggested poor people get through the credit crisis by growing salad on their balconies.

When asked at a high society ball if she thought it was appropriate to have them in the credit crunch, she said: "My advice to help people get through it all is to use whatever space they can to put out plant pots and grow vegetables.

Story continues below…

Salad and tomatoes would be good to grow as well; they can fit on a patio or balcony."

Fiona Swarovski studied in London and her mother has the second-largest stake in the company.

She has Swiss, Italian and Austrian citizenship and worked for Sotheby's before going to the Parsons School of Design in New York and founding the Designer firm Fiona Winter Studio in Milan.

The wealthy socialite, who owns several estates, also sparked controversy after paparazzi pictures showed her smoking during her pregnancy with daughter Tara Gertrud.

Story courtesy of Central European News

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