Meet Marlene Knaus, Ex-Wife Of Late Niki Lauda

July 31, 2023   | March 22, 2024  | 

    Marlene Knaus, a former model and interior designer, is best known as the ex-wife of late Formula One racer, Niki Lauda. The now ex-spouses, who became parents to two children, were in a marital relationship for 15 years before they divorced in 1991.

    While Knaus became a modeling icon of the 1960s with her charm and impeccable sense of fashion, her former spouse created his legacy on the Formula One tracks, when speed was prioritized over safety and accidents were becoming scarily common sights.

    The late Formula One racing driver became the only racer to become a champ for both Ferrari and McLaren, totaling three Formula One World Driver’s Championship titles.

    Key Takeaways

    • Marlene Knaus and Niki Lauda were married for 15 years, from 1976 to 1991.
    • Niki Lauda was in a life-threatening accident during the 1976 German Grand Prix, only five months after marrying Marlene.
    • Marlene and Niki had two sons together.
    • During his marital years with Marlene, Niki had an affair resulting in the birth of his third son.
    • Niki’s second wife, Birgit Wetzinger, is 30 years younger than him.
    • Marlene is currently 67 years old and lives in Ibiza, Spain.

    Marlene Knaus Is a Former Model

    While Marlene is more known for her association with Niki, she was already turning heads as a model, proudly donning the nickname of the “it girl.”

    Marlene-Knaus-in-September-1977
    Knaus, a former model pictured in September 1977

    She was a frequent face in several magazines and her fashion became a trend with time. Soon after her modeling career hit the road, Marlene also took up working as an interior designer and photographer.

    As much as she loved the socialite life, everything changed when she met Niki Lauda.

    Marlene Knaus Met Her Future Husband Niki Lauda At Her Lover’s Dinner Party

    If you find a husband at your boyfriend’s party, it is most probably a fateful encounter… Or at least, that is how things went for Knaus when she first met Niki Lauda.

    Marlene and Niki first came across in 1975 when they were at a dinner party hosted by actor Curt Jurgens, who Marlene was dating at the time. Funnily enough, Niki was also already engaged to his then-fiancee, Mariella von Reininghaus during that time.

    Marlene-Knaus-with-ex-husband-Niki-Lauda
    Knaus and her ex-husband, Niki Lauda.

    It was like a picture clicked for both Marlene and Niki, as they suddenly found themselves in the same frame. Love at first sight, you could call it. This followed both of them breaking up with their respective partners of the time.

    Knaus And Lauda Married A Year After Their Meeting

    Only two months after their first encounter, Marlene and Niki were already dating. And it wasn’t long before they got married in 1976. They wed in a family-oriented wedding ceremony.

    Shock For The Newlyweds: Nearly Fatal Accident Of Niki In 1976

    Things were going well for the newlyweds until five months later of their marriage when Niki was met with a life-threatening accident during the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.

    As reported, Marlene fainted after seeing her husband’s injuries that required reconstruction of his upper face.

    That difficult time was when Marlene dedicated her everything to aiding Niki. The F1 driver himself has admitted to his wife being his strongest support. “Marlene must have been terrified by my face,” he recalled of the time. “But she just made me feel to be a great man and gave me the will to heal.”

    A year after the accident, Niki gave a mouth full of answers to the gossipmongers about his career in racing as he became the 1977 Formula One season champ.

    Marlene Knaus And Niki Lauda Became Parents Of Two Sons

    Following the unfortunate and particularly difficult period of their married life, Marlene and Niki welcomed two sons, Lukas and Mathias. They became parents to their firstborn Lukas Lauda on April 5, 1979. It was the same year when the now-late F1 racer won BMW M1 Procar Championship.

    On January 30, 1981, the pair welcomed their second son Mathias Lauda.

    Marlene-Knaus-and-Niki-Lauda-with-children
    Marlene and Niki Lauda with their children.

    Mathias followed in his father’s footsteps and became a racing driver as well while Lukas took on the role of a manager for his brother.

    It Wasn’t a Happily Ever After For Marlene and Her Ex-Husband Lauda

    Marlene and Niki’s married life with two sons, was almost picture-perfect. However, good things don’t often last long. In 1982, Niki had an affair with a woman who was never unveiled to the media. The affair even brought a child, Niki’s third son, Christoph.

    Sources claim that Niki did not maintain contact with Christoph since he had agreed with the mother that they would live separate lives.

    Knaus-with-ex-husband-Niki-Lauda
    Marlene and her ex-husband, Niki Lauda, in the Ferrari pits in 1976.

    Even after the affair, Marlene stayed with Niki for another nine years before the couple eventually divorced in 1991. Their union lasted for 15 years in total, and the reasons for their split never surfaced.

    What Happened To Marlene After Divorcing Niki?

    After parting ways with Niki, Marlene stayed low-key, only appearing to the media once in a while when she was eating out with Niki since the exes remained friends.

    Marlene continued to live in Ibiza and she never revealed her later possible romantic partners.

    Niki Lauda Married His Second Wife Birgit Wetzinger

    As for Niki, the Formula One racer, after retirement from the tracks, he went on to become an aviation entrepreneur, having founded three airlines: Niki, Lauda Air, and Lauda.

    The racer also found love again in flight attendant Birgit Wetzinger, who was 30 years younger than him. They got married on August 25, 2008, and welcomed twin children: Mia and Max.

    Lauda Received A Kidney From Birgit

    In 2005, it was nearly a year that Niki and Birgit had begun dating when the then-retired Austrian Formula One racer needed a kidney. His then-girlfriend (now widow) Birgit Wetzinger didn’t hesitate to donate one and the surgery was successful.

    Niki-Lauda-with-his-second-wife-Birgit-Wetzinger
    Niki Lauda with his second wife, Birgit Wetzinger.

    Earlier, in 1997, Niki Lauda underwent a kidney transplant (the donor was his brother Florian) after his health started declining because of kidney problems. Although the surgery was successful, it would later fail to function, compelling him to go for another transplant.

    Death Of Marlene’s Ex-Husband

    After nearly three decades of the divorce, Marlene’s ex-husband Lauda died on May 20, 2019, at the age of 70. As reported, he was undergoing dialysis treatment for kidney problems at the University Hospital of Zurich.

    Back in 2018, he had undergone a double lung transplant.

    What is Marlene’ Net Worth?

    Sources claim that Knaus’ net worth is $43 million as of 2023. The majority of the fortune followed her after the death of her ex-husband, Niki, according to his will. Niki also left her house in Ibiza, Spain.

    Lauda, on the other hand, had a net worth of $200 million at the time of his death. Most of the fortune went to his children. Apparently, a huge amount went to Marlene and his affair child, Christoph, from another relationship.

    Where is Marlene Knaus Today?

    Marlene has remained out of the media’s reach for a long time now. Currently 67 years old, the former model lives in her Ibiza home away from the prying eyes of the media.

    Quick Facts
    Full Name Marlene Knaus
    Birth Place United States
    Birthday 1956
    Age 68 years
    Nationality American
    Ethnicity Mixed
    Profession Model, Designer
    Net Worth $43 million
    Height 5 feet 6 inches
    Weight 61 kg
    Eye Color Brown
    Hair Color Dark Brown
    Sexuality Straight
    Marital Status Divorced
    Relationship Status Single
    Spouse Niki Lauda (m. 1976- div. 1991)
    Children Lukas and Mathias Lauda