• Marlene Knaus is an American former model and the ex-wife of 3-time F1 world champion Niki Lauda with a net worth of $43 million.
• She gained fame as an ‘It’ girl thanks to her sex appeal and personality.
• Her marriage to Niki began in 1976 and ended in 1991, resulting in a large pay-out.
• Her ex-husband is currently an aviation entrepreneur, brand ambassador and consultant.
• She has no online presence, and is assumed to have retired from modelling.
Who is Marlene Knaus?
Marlene Knaus was born in the United States of America, and is a former model, but probably best known for being the now ex-wife of former professional motor-racing driver Niki Lauda. Her former husband was a three time F1 world champion, winning in 1975, 1977 and 1984. Her fame as a model never really attracted international attention, but instead she achieved global fame thanks to her ex-husband.
The Net Worth of Marlene Knaus
How rich is Marlene Knaus? As of late-2018, sources estimate a net worth that is at $43 million, earned through a successful career in modelling, and significantly increased thanks to her association with Lauda who has a net worth estimated at $100 million even after the divorce settlement. As she continues her career, it is expected that her wealth will also continue to increase.
Life Before Niki
Very little information is available about Marlene’s childhood, family or her education, but it is known that she grew up in the US, and later received citizenship in Austria. Prior to meeting and starting a relationship with Lauda, she was popular as a model, particularly as an ‘It’ girl which was a popular term of the time describing women with sex appeal as well as personality – the term gained popular usage after the release of the film entitled “It” starring Clara Bow. A woman fitted the It girl title well if she gain a high level of popularity without the need to flaunt her sexuality; the term is more fittingly used for both beauty and fame. However, her name only reached international attention after she began a relationship with the legendary racer, leading to marriage.
Ex-Husband Niki Lauda
Andreas Nikolaus Lauda is the only driver to have been champion for both McLaren and Ferrari, which are the two most successful constructors in the sport, and is considered by many as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. One of the most notable events that happened in his career aside from his world championship wins occurred during the 1976 German Grand Prix, when he suffered severe burns after his Ferrari burst into flames, and came close to death after inhaling toxic fumes but was able to survive. Just six weeks later, he was able to recover enough to race at the Italian Grand Prix.
During the latter part of his life, he has become more of an aviation entrepreneur, running the airline businesses Laudamotion, Niki, and Lauda Air. He is also a brand ambassador for the Bombardier Business Aircraft, and was a consultant for Scuderia Ferrari. He also had a stint with the Jaguar Formula One racing team for two years as team manager. Currently, he does a lot of work on German television during Grand Prix weekends, serving mainly as a pundit. He also owns 10% owner of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team, acting as the non-executive chairman.
Marriage and Divorce
According to reports, Knaus met Lauda in the 1970s, and shortly afterwards the two started their relationship, with Lauda ending a long-term relationship of eight years so that he could start dating the model. The two’s relationship went well and they eventually married in 1976, and they subsequently had two children and apparently a smooth marriage until 1991, when they decided to get a divorce. While the details of why they divorced were never shared, it is known that she received a considerable pay-out, increasing her net worth significantly. The two later moved on, and still remain in contact. One of their children, Mathias would become a race driver like his father, and their other child Lukas became Mathias’ manager.
Reports soon surfaced that Niki had an extra-marital relationship, and had another son. Her ex-husband would later marry Birgit Wetzinger in 2008, who is 30 years his junior and was a flight attendant for one of his airlines. Knaus’ life on the other hand moved further away from the spotlight, as more attention was on her ex-husband.
Rush and Current Endeavors
In 2013, a film entitled “Rush” was released centered on the rivalry of the two Formula One drivers – Niki Lauda and James Hunt – during the 1976 Formula 1 motor racing season, directed by Ron Howard and starring Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth. The film proved financially successful, and also got great reviews from both critics as well as movie viewers. Lauda also commented that the film looked great, and he was impressed. Subsequently he expressed sadness at the passing of his rival Hunt from heart attack at the age of 45.
One of the reasons why there is very little information about Marlene is due to her lack of any online presence. She used to have a Twitter account, on which she only did a few tweets in 2014 before becoming inactive. Aside from that, the only pictures of her circulating around the internet are old pictures of her much younger self, with Lauda. There are also very few pictures of her today, although Niki is often seen with his wife Wetzinger. There is also no information on whether or not she has remarried, or is in a new relationship. With the wealth she has gathered, it is also unlikely that she returned to modelling, although still regarded as attractive.