Trappings of wealth hid Tetra Pak heirs' private pain

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:51pm EDT
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By Alessandra Prentice and Tim Castle

LONDON (Reuters) - A millionaire philanthropist, she mixed with European royalty and counted Britain's Prince Charles among her acquaintances.

But her American youth had been marred by drug abuse and when, as a middle-aged mother of four, she was caught smuggling crack cocaine in her handbag into an embassy function, it was clear Eva Rausing was leading a double life.

That life ended in tragedy when she was found dead, aged 48, in her London mansion on Monday, after her husband was arrested for drug offences. He may have lived with her body for days.

The six-storey, white-stucco townhouse on Cadogan Place, one of the city's most desirable addresses, was cordoned off with blue and white tape on Wednesday as detectives came and went, watched by journalists. "Police Line," it read. "Do Not Cross"

It was an unusual scene for a well-tended garden square in exclusive Belgravia, and one that symbolized the fracture at the heart of Eva Rausing's privileged life.

She and her husband, Hans Kristian Rausing, 49, an heir to the Tetra Pak packaging fortune, enjoyed a life of leisure and luxury open only to the very, very rich.

Hans Kristian's Swedish grandfather Ruben invented the now ubiquitous foil-lined drinks carton after his wife complained about heavy glass milk bottles. Ruben's sons, Hans and Gad, turned their father's firm into a global empire worth billions.

Hans Rausing took his wife, two daughters and only son to England three decades ago to avoid high Swedish inheritance tax and, at 86, is said by Forbes to be the 88th richest person on the planet with assets estimated at $10 billion.   Continued...

A police car drives in front of the home of Eva Rausing in London July 11, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris