NewsThe shy lion

The shy lion

Created: 10/10/2022, 5:38 p.m

Lugner mit seiner vierten Frau Christina und Tochter Jacqueline, Ende der Neunziger in Wien. imago images
Lugner with his fourth wife Christina and daughter Jacqueline, in Vienna in the late 1990s. imago images © Imago

Richard Lugner is a millionaire, tireless gigolo and leading actor in his very own tragic comedy. Today he is 90 years old – a good reason to pay tribute to the indestructible in a very unironic way

It is unfair to reduce Richard Lugner to the fact that he likes to surround himself with women, preferably young women. You could also say: He likes to be where there is something going on. And if there is nothing going on somewhere, he makes sure that something is up and running, as they say in his hometown of Vienna: shopping malls, hotels, cinemas, mosques – there is very little that Richard Siegfried Lugner hasn’t done in his long life as a building contractor pounded out of the ground. Not everything that the “society lion” had built was always a hit, but: If you don’t dare…

Richard Siegfried Lugner was always daring. One of his first ventures: No longer just a marginal figure, but being the main character in the photos that were published by the press after receptions or other high society events in Vienna in the 1970s. Suddenly the liar was there and got involved. Long before he made himself the main character of the Vienna Opera Ball in 1992, he proved that he had a knack for first making a good living and then building a small empire from the right mix of concrete and relationships.

Above all, however, he has a knack for what Karin Schnegdar, columnist at the Viennese “Kronen Zeitung”, describes in Lugner’s biography as “the principle of prominence from within itself”, or to put it another way: “He became prominent because he defined themselves as prominent.” An impressively simple principle, which today is called “hype yourself” and to which the world owes thousands more stars in the celebrity sky.

But before Richard Siegfried Lugner (two royal names for one person, that can also be a burden!) becomes a permanent guest in gossip columns. on celebrity TV and his own reality soap, he has pursued some highly impactful projects over two decades. In 1962 he received the concession and founded his construction company: “Lugner”. He plastered the whole of Vienna with billboards, but the media only became aware of him in the mid-1970s when he built a mosque. And as if he also wanted to be on good terms with the other Higher Powers, he later renovated the city temple of the Jewish community, a block of houses for the Freemasons and the Greek Orthodox Church on Fleischmarkt.

Then begins the ascent from the “construction lion” to the often ridiculed, but also much courted “social lion”. Suddenly the liar is someone, which surprises even Michael Jeannée, the gossip columnist of the “Kronen Zeitung”: At first he only called the liar “Zuwedrucka” because he “always stood up to celebrities, i.e. he printed on us”. But Lugner’s strategy works, at some point the press can no longer ignore him. It is also said to be Jeannée who gave the liar the nickname “Mortar” after the latter declared that until the tabloids discovered him he was “just the Mr. Lugner” but “now I’m the nation’s mortar”. There look!

Since then, Richard Siegfried Lugner has been “constantly present in the media landscape and it’s impossible to imagine life without it” – this is what it says in a diploma thesis from 2009 entitled “Richard ‘Mörtel’ Lugner and the secret of his prominence”. This work also cites a survey according to which the mortar for more than half of the respondents is an “embarrassing old man”, for the rest it is at least a “clever, hard-working clown”.

Not all plans work out

Fame has its price, but Lugner is happy to pay that price. And how it is with the spirits that one calls: Since the divorce from his fourth wife Christina Haidinger, also known as “Mausi”, in August 2007, the multi-millionaire has been constantly surrounded by female “Zuwedruckan”, which he mostly enjoying time, he emphasizes.

What Lugner also enjoys: the provocation. The fact that he twice stood as a candidate for the election of the Federal President was not a provocation, he meant it seriously. As a businessman, he always kept his waistcoat white. Apart from the fact that he would have liked to have tipped the closing times for his “Lugner City” shopping center, when looking for Lugner scandals there is almost always only one keyword: the opera ball.

Gossip journalist Jeannée calls Lugner’s idea of always bringing a celebrity into his box “a brilliant idea that made him what he is today”. Without his annual appearances at the Opera Ball, Lugner would have remained just “a local wuss”. On the other hand, without the liar, the opera ball would have remained just a local trifle. And despite all the mockery that is poured out on liars from time to time: He is proof that a young soul can also live in an old body and the zest for life. Thomas Gauss, the inventor of the TV series “The Lugners”, once said that Lugner also moves people “because his mentality is that of a rascal who has remained young at heart, and he takes immense pleasure in it when others make fun of him.” .

This joy mentioned by Gauss was clearly visible to Lugner when he invited the noble prostitute Ruby Rubacuore to his opera ball box in 2003. The then 18-year-old is said to have attended the “Bunga-bunga” parties of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as a call girl. “This is the greatest embarrassment that Mr. Lugner has ever done,” said Desiree Treichl-Stürgkh, director of the Opera Ball, and considered giving Lugner no more boxes. And liars? Came up with Ruby and smiled. And also got his lodge in 2004.

“Amorous? no Once only”

The Kronen-Zeitung visited the liar shortly before his 90th birthday – and presented him as a snuggly old man who overslept and has to get his hearing aids in between so that he can understand the questions correctly. But between all the banter about niggles, his shyness and the big party, at which all his “little animals”, as he calls his ex-girlfriends and wives, will also be there, a short sentence shimmers that indicates why the liar probably simply can’t do without the women: When asked if he was in love, Lugner replies: “In love? no Only in my first wife, who built everything with me.” He married Christine Gmeiner, his first wife and mother of his sons Richard Alexander and Siegfried Andreas, in April 1961, and the couple divorced in May 1978. Damn long ago, love!

And so the media scientist Peter Vitouch does not seem to be wrong when he writes that behind Richard Siegfried Lugner’s irrepressible urge to be in the public eye there is “a great need for attention”, a desire for love. And maybe also the never-quenched hunger for the sandwich with lots of sugar on it, which he dreamed of back when he was still the shy boy his mum affectionately called “Binki”.

Da geht noch was: Wilder Tanz mit der „Biene“ auf „Mausis“ Geburtstag im Juni 2021 im Wiener „Strandcafe Alte Donau“. imago images
Something else is going on: Wild dance with the “Bee” on “Mausi’s” birthday in June 2021 in Vienna’s “Strandcafe Alte Donau”. imago images © Kurt Piles/Imago
Der Lenz im Glück garantiert Gaudi von der Stange: mit „Bambi“ (links) und „Käfer“ beim Auftakt der Spargelsaison 2018. imago images
Lenz im Glück guarantees ready-made fun: with “Bambi” (left) and “Käfer” at the start of the 2018 asparagus season. imago images © Kurt Piles/Imago

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