Economy

Billionaire Elisabeth Furtwängler on music, media and feminism

Elisabeth Burda (lr), publisher Hubert Burda and Winfried Kretschmann, Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg (Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen), Jacob Burda and national soccer coach Joachim Löw at the awarding of the Staufer medal at the staff party of the media group. Publisher Hubert Burda is celebrating his 80th birthday.

Elisabeth Burda (lr), publisher Hubert Burda and Winfried Kretschmann, Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg (Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen), Jacob Burda and national soccer coach Joachim Löw at the awarding of the Staufer medal at the staff party of the media group. Publisher Hubert Burda is celebrating his 80th birthday.

picture alliance / dpa | Patrick Seeger

At 29, Elisabeth Furtwängler, or Kerfor, is the youngest German billionaire. In her first interview with “Der Spiegel” she talks about her goals and how she is already bringing them to the Burda Group.

As the daughter of the publisher Hubert Burda, she, like her brother Jacob Burda, owns over 37 percent of the publisher and thus a fortune that “Forbes” magazine estimates at over a billion euros. Elisabeth Furtwängler sits on the board of directors of the group, which owns publications such as “Bunte” and “Focus” as well as various digital brands such as the social network Xing. Furtwängler herself is still looking for her role as a successor in the family company. “I haven’t done anything for Burda so far,” she says. In the interview she talks about her privileged position of being born into the Burda dynasty. “It was always clear to me that there was an enormous responsibility involved. I have not always felt comfortable with it. ”Furtwängler says that she has not yet decided how she will ultimately deal with this responsibility.

Billionaire heiress starts her music career as Kerfor

In order to help shape the day-to-day business of Burda with its 12,000 employees, she admits that she ultimately lacks management expertise. Instead, she is currently focusing on her career as a singer and music producer. She is now releasing her first EP, Ferociolicious, under the stage name Kerfor. She worked on this career for many years, says Furtwängler: “During that time I wrote around 80 songs, trained my voice and acquired producer knowledge. I didn’t just want to sing and compose, I also wanted to keep creative control. “

It took some time before she could bring herself to a music career. Here too, she says, they spurred on and slowed down the many strong personalities in their family at the same time. Through a mother like the successful actress Maria Furtwängler or the genius cult around her great-uncle Wilhelm Furtwängler, she had long thought that everything she did artistically had to be perfect. So even though she had a great penchant for music and songwriting as a child, she first studied art history in Cambridge. It was only in 2014 that she moved to Los Angeles to study music, also to gain distance from her home. At some point she knew what she wanted to do, according to Furtwängler, namely “Things that I care for” – in short: Kerfor.

Furtwängler is a feminist and criticizes the image of women in Burda publications

She sees herself as a feminist “wholeheartedly” and tries to work primarily with women when she can, and especially to support female musicians and producers. Together with her mother, she also founded MaLisa Home in the Philippines, a facility for girls who have become victims of forced prostitution. After graduating from high school, she had worked in an orphanage there for several months and, among other things, met a woman her age who already had three children from different men. That made her aware of her own privileges. Social and feminist commitment is something she takes for granted: “I want to live in a world in which men and women can equally develop their potential.”

In her youth, according to the billionaire heiress, she was initially infected – also by her passion for football. “As a child, I wanted to be a boy, I dressed like that too. My thought was: only boys can do what they want. I wanted that, too. Soon I was called a tomboy, ”she says. She then switched to the other extreme and only dressed in pink until she realized that the two are not mutually exclusive: “I am not either-or, but have both sides in me, the male and the female. Not biologically, but from energy. Like everyone else. ”

Her feminist engagement affects not only her music career as Kerfor, but also her role as Burda heiress. In recent years, the MaLisa Foundation has commissioned several studies on the images of women in the media. She was averse to an edition of the “Bunten” that was presented to her in the “Spiegel” interview – full of diet tips for women. But she wants to help change that. When asked if she would talk to the editor-in-chief of the magazine about it, she replied: “I’ll do that and I find open ears.”

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