Marlene Knaus Bio – Facts About Niki Lauda’s Ex-Wife

Who is Marlene Knaus?

Marlene Knaus is an interior designer, model, and photographer popularly known for being the ex-wife of the late Niki Lauda – a famous Austrian Formula One driver, aviation entrepreneur, and racing driver known for winning the ‘F1 World Championship’ in 1984, 1977, and 1975. He is recognized as the only racing driver in Formula One history to have been champion for both McLaren and Ferrari – two of the sport’s most successful car constructors.

I will write about Marlene Knaus and other interesting facts you probably didn’t know about her. Before I continue, let’s take a glance at her profile summary.

Profile summary

NameMarlene Knaus
NationalityUnited States of America
Age75 years old
Known asLate Niki Lauda’s ex-wife
ChildrenLukas Lauda, Mathias Lauda
Net worth$43 million

Marlene Knaus Biography 

Marlene Knaus was born in 1949 in her home country, the United States of America, and is 75 years old. A report published in The Sun magazine on June 28, 2019, about her ex-husband, Niki Lauda’s first will, which stated that every part of his fortune is given to her, confirmed Marlene’s age, saying in part; 

“At that time, he decided that in the case of his death everything would go to ex-wife Marlene Knaus, 70….”


Knaus was raised by her Venezuelan-American parents, whose names are unknown, and has an ancestry traced back to Venezuelans. As a United States native, she held American citizenship by birth until the mid-1970s, after she married Niki Lauda, earning her Austrian citizenship by marriage. 

Marlene Knaus with his husband Niki Lauda
Marlene with his husband, Niki Lauda

Looking at her pictures, Marlene has a white skin color, a dark brown aesthetic pair of eyes, and long black hair. She stands five feet six inches above the ground, is estimated to be either 167 centimeters or 1.6 meters, and weighs 63 kilograms or 138 pounds. With a slim body physique, her body measurements are 34 inches, 26 inches, and 35 inches, respectively. 

As with most of her life, information about Marlene’s educational background is yet to be found. Otherwise, she has at least completed her elementary and High School education. 

Marlene started a career in the fashion and modeling industries as a fashion model. However, her career only blew up once she married her now ex-husband, Niki Lauda. She did get featured in Magazines and other online publications during those years and was monikered “it-girl.” She worked for a while after she started dating Niki but slowly discontinued her career, going away from the media scrutiny to focus on her marriage. Besides being a fashion model, she also worked as a photographer and interior designer at some point in her career. 

Marlene Knaus’s Rise to Fame & Marriage 

Niki Lauda’s affluence brought Marlene to the spotlight. Before Niki met Marlene, Marlene was previously in a relationship with Curt Jurgens, who is recognized as a German and Austrian theater and screen actor. Surprisingly, Knaus and Niki met each other for the first time during a dinner party at Curt Jurgens’ residential house. 

At the time of their first meeting, Niki Lauda was married to Mariella Reininghaus, whom he married in 1968. However, Niki later divorced Mariella in 1975 to proceed relationship with Marlene, trashing his eight years marital relationship with Mariella Reininghaus. After separating from his wife, Niki Lauda and Marlene started dating and married on March 11, 1976, after dating for less than a year. Because of the controversy around their relationship and how it began, sources say they were always under the media radar; their love story often made page three headlines of print publications, talking about lovers who were one of the most celebrity couples at the time because of their romance. 

Soon after they got married, Marlene Knaus’ newly wedded partner, Niki Lauda, almost lost his life in a 1976 race competition; while he was racing for his second Formula One world title. Reports say his Ferrari caught fire, but a fellow driver Arturo Merzario saved the day by diving into the burning car to unbuckle Lauda’s safety harness. Because of how severely burnt he was, the Insiders reported that Knaus passed out upon seeing the burns and how badly damaged Niki’s eyelashes were. 

Examining his burns, reports circulated that Niki would eventually die. However, he survived and returned to motor racing six weeks after the incident. Around this time, he won his second championship (in 1977).

On April 5, 1979, Marlene and Niki Lauda had their first child, whom they named Lukas Lauda. Their second child and second son were born Mathias Lauda on January 30, 1981. Currently, 44 years and 43 years years old, proportionately, Marlene’s two sons are racing drivers and managers, respectively.

Marlene Knaus and her family including niki lauda
Marlene Knaus and Niki Lauda with their children

In 1991, Marlene and Niki ended their fifteen years old marriage. Although they kept mute about the reasons for their divorce, sources alleged that their marriage hit the rocks after Marlene found out that Niki had an extramarital affair when they were still married — an extramarital relationship that allegedly gave him a son named Christoph Lauda. A few years after they called it quits, Niki Lauda married Birgit Wetzinger, a flight attendant in his airline, on August 25, 2008. Married to Birgit Wetzinger between 2008 and his date in 2019, the duo had two children (a twin boy and a girl) whom they named Mia Lauda and Max Lauda. 

Marlene Knaus Ex-Husband

Marlene Knaus’ ex-husband, Niki Lauda, was born Andreas Nikolaus “Niki” Lauda on February 22, 1949, in Vienna, Austria, and was supposed to be 73 years old if he were alive in January 2023. He was born into a wealthy paper manufacturing family, with his paternal grandfather being the Viennese-born successful industrialist Hans Lauda. He was raised along with his only brother and only sibling, Florian Lauda, by his parents, Ernst-Peter Lauda and Elisabeth Lauda. 

Other closely known family members of Niki Lauda include; his maternal grandfather, Dr. Emil von Linhart and his paternal grandparents, Hans Lauda, and Emmi Lauda, and his step-grandmother, Helga Lauda. His great grandparents, Ernst Lauda, and Maria Lauda. Heinz Lauda was his paternal uncle, Adolf Lauda was his great-uncle, and Maria Lauda was his great-aunt. His former brother-in-law is Tilly Knauss, whereas Renate Knaus is his former sister-in-law.

Niki Lauda in his younger days
Niki Lauda in his younger days

Away from that, Marlene’s ex-husband, Niki Lauda’s family, disapproved of his career choice, car racing, but he ventured into the sector, amassing about €500 million fortune at the time of his death. He was the founder of Niki Airlines and Lauda Air.

Marlene’s ex-husband, Niki Lauda, died on May 20, 2019, at the University Hospital of Zürich in Zürich, Switzerland, after battling kidney problems, and was buried on May 29, 2019, at Heiligenstadt Cemetery in Vienna, Austria. His funeral was held at St Stephen’s Cathedral in the Austrian capital of Vienna, with famous international popular figures Lewis Hamilton, Bernie Eccleston, and Arnold Schwarzenegger among the attendees. Also, the Austrian President, Alexander van der Bellen, and one-time ousted Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, gave short eulogies to honor him.

Niki Passed away on a Monday, May 20, 2019, ten months after undergoing a lung transplant; he underwent a lung transplant in August 2018 at a private hospital in Vienna after falling ill with flu-like symptoms while on holiday in Ibiza. And while his treatment was ongoing in Vienna before his death, medics confirmed that he had suffered from a “severe lung disease.” 

Speaking about his deteriorating health in a 2018 interview, Niki Lauda said in part, thus;

I was in hospital until two days ago then I had permission to go home and I flew to Ibiza where I will spend Christmas with my family. I have to do six hours of training every day, helped by two trainers who don’t leave me for a second. But I am back in my own four walls, the air is clean, and the weather is not inclement like in Austria. In a month they told me I will be in top form and ready to go again. Doing what? My usual life – following Formula One, why not?”

Niki Lauda

Marlene and Niki Lauda’s widowed wife, Birgit Wetzinger, was beside his bedstead at the University Hospital of Zürich when he passed away. Marlene and Niki maintained good relationships even after they separated in 1991. Even Birgit is on good terms with Niki.

Marlene Knaus Net worth 

Marlene Knaus has an estimated net worth of about $43 million. She accumulated most of her net worth from the fortune her ex-husband, Niki Lauda, willed to her and lived in a house he also left for her in Ibiza, Spain. Upon his death, her ex-husband had an estimated net worth of about €500 million, which he earned after he rose from Formula One to the ranks of Formula Three. Marlene’s two sons, Niki’s other children with Birgit Wetzinger, and his illegitimate son, Christoph Lauda, were the beneficiaries of his fortune. However, a significant amount went to Marlene and Christoph.

Since you are still here, let me know what you think about Marlene Knaus’ personality. What other things would you instead include in this article? Please tell me all about it in the comments section. 

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