“I don’t want a long-distance relationship”: Richard Lugner won’t let the mouse move

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Richard “Mörtel” Lugner stands for three things in particular: his shopping center “Lugner-City”, the Viennese opera ball and changing female acquaintances. That won’t change now that he turns 90. He still has plans, both in terms of ball and relationships.

A gala dinner, a circus premiere, a champagne party, in the beer tent at the Oktoberfest – when Richard “Mörtel” Lugner looks back on the past few days, his conclusion is: “I was very rarely home.” The Austrian society lion, best known for his visits to the Vienna Opera Ball with prominent Hollywood accompaniment, looks neat and fresh on Tuesday around his 90th birthday.


The mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, also congratulates the 90th.

(Photo: photo alliance / EVA MANHART / APA / picturedesk.com)

He also needs the condition for the festive day, when he invites some 200 guests to the ceremonial hall of the Vienna Hofburg. “The little animals are all invited too,” he says, referring to his companions, some of whom have been with him for many years.

The women’s problem is far from over for him. He is currently single, but longs for contact, says Lugner. At least 40 years old, a little older would be even better – and she should be from the Vienna area. “I don’t want distance.” In his own words, he learned from his previous connections. “I think I need to take care of myself a little more.”

Lots of emails and offers

Anyway: Lugner seems attractive to many women – even under 40. He gets a lot of emails with offers, he says. But first he waits for the magic of the moment and has arranged unaccompanied nights out. “Otherwise no one will talk to me.” He himself, who has been married five times so far, is not a daredevil anyway.

Lugner knows no fear of contact when dealing with the media. The trained master builder leaves little stone unturned to make headlines. During his recent trip to Paris and Morocco for a private Austrian broadcaster (“Lugner im Orient”) and in the company of several women, he spoke openly about his toilet problems. “I was interrupted in my business five times,” he recalled to the newspaper “Heute” of an unlocked toilet door at Paris airport.

He is also rightly described as a reality TV star: for twelve seasons his more or less glamorous life was highlighted in “The Lugners” on the ATV station.

Only the cinema is “catastrophic”

There is a method for all this. Every headline, every minute of the broadcast advertises his shopping center in Vienna, the “Lugner City” with about 120 shops and restaurants. “It may well be the only center to bear the founder’s name,” says the father of four. Business was going well, all the more reason to celebrate 32 years of “Lugner-City” on his birthday. The mall is managed by his family’s private foundation.

The cinema with its eleven screens, which is all his own, is unfortunately not very successful. “It’s going to be catastrophic. I’ve never made any money with it,” said Lugner. It can’t be because of his workload. On the doctor’s advice, he now arrives at the office at ten instead of nine. “It will still be 40 to 50 hours a week.”

The box for 2023 is reserved

After two years of the opera ball being canceled due to Corona, Lugner’s prospects for the next edition on February 16, 2023 are all the more gratifying. “I’ve already reserved a box. Not in the 2nd tier anymore, but further down – closer to the dance floor.”

Who accompanies him is determined during these days. His agency gave him a suggested list of seven women. Together with his daughter Jacqueline (“She reads the glossy magazines”), he will then decide who to have by his side at Austria’s most important social event next year. Most recently, Italian actress Ornella Muti was his companion in 2020 – after stars like Brooke Shields, Elle Macpherson or Pamela Anderson.

In his own words, Lugner owes at least two recipes to being in good shape in old age. “You have to be positive and happy.” And: “I don’t talk about illnesses.”

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