Hans Rausing with his wife Eva who died in May 2012
We do not know if anybody was with Eva Rausing when she died on the morning of May 7, 2012.
What we do know is that the heart of this 48-year-old mother-of-four went into what was revealed by her pacemaker to have been a ‘non-survivable’ heart rhythm.
The pacemaker had been fitted six years earlier in an operation to repair damage to her heart caused by excessive drug use, but sadly Mrs Rausing had been unable to kill her addiction.
Instead, it killed her. As the coroner reported, her heart failed as ‘a result of the dependent abuse of drugs’.
What happened next was truly macabre.
At some point that day, her husband discovered her body. A stooped, unshaven and shambling figure, Hans Kristian Rausing was as addicted to drugs as his wife.
Together, while their retinue of staff in the couple’s £70 million house in Cadogan Place in Chelsea, West London, cared for their children, the Rausings would spend days at a time locked away in their vast annexe on the second floor getting high on a noxious mixture of crack cocaine and heroin.
When discovering the body of their spouse, most people would call for an ambulance. But in his drug-befuddled state, Hans Rausing decided to hide it. He piled bed clothes on top of the corpse and, then, when it started to smell, he covered the pile in bin bags.
Left, Eva Rausing as a teenager in a picture handed out by the family after her death, and right, on holiday
Hans Rausing with his new wife Julia Delves Broughton at Royal Ascot races
‘I did not feel able to confront the reality of her death,’ Rausing would later tell the police.
‘With the benefit of hindsight I think that following her death I did not act rationally.
‘I tried to carry on as if her death had not happened and batted away any inquiries about her.’
It would not be until July 9 — two months after Eva died, and during which time Rausing would even mark his 49th birthday — that the body of Eva Rausing would be discovered. After having arrested Rausing for driving erratically, and having found a crack pipe and drugs in his car, the police searched his house.
Hans Rausing and his new wife Julia Delves Broughton attend The Serpentine Summer Party
A smell of putrefaction permeated the annexe, and grew almost overpowering in the master bedroom.
It was there that Mrs Rausing was discovered. Her body’s state of decay was so advanced that she could be identified only by the serial number on her pacemaker.
Hans Rausing was arrested and charged with preventing the lawful and decent burial of a body — an offence that can carry a limitless penalty. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to ten months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was also sentenced to two months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for driving when unfit through drugs.
Rausing was lucky. Many would have gone straight to prison.
You might have thought, after such an horrific and sordid episode, that we would have heard the last of Hans Kristian Rausing, who, thanks to being one of the scions of his grandfather’s enormously successful Tetra Pak packaging business, is worth in the region of £5 billion to £6 billion.
Guy Walters said Hans Rausing was lucky his sentence was suspended when he admitted preventing unlawful burial
Hans Rausing (right) and Julia Delves Broughton (centre) at the Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! charity dinner hosted by the Isabella Blow Foundation at Claridges Hotel in London, in 2013
Indeed, you might also have thought we would have heard the last of the Rausing family, who have made their homes in Britain since the early Eighties, having escaped their native Sweden’s punitive tax laws.
But then the Rausings are no ordinary family, and the rehabilitation of Hans Kristian and his relations back into the creme de la creme of society proves that leaving the corpse of your wife to rot in your bedroom is no barrier to staying in the social stratosphere.
Just this week, it was reported that Hans Kristian’s cousin, Kirsten Rausing, 64, has been appointed as a deputy lieutenant for Suffolk, where her role will involve assisting with royal visits to the area.
‘This is the Queen showing that the Rausings have not been excommunicated,’ a courtier claims.
Make no mistake, being a deputy lieutenant is an honour indeed, and reserved for those perceived — at least — to be both great and good.
Previous holders of the post in the county include a whole raft of dukes, lords, baronets, knights and senior Army officers. One of Kirsten Rausing’s fellow deputy lieutenants in Suffolk is no less a figure than Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the private secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and to Prince Harry.
Hans and Eva on their wedding day. He was given a suspended sentence for preventing her lawful burial
In addition, over the past four-and-a-half years, Hans Kristian — who is often called ‘Hans K’ to differentiate him from Hans, his 90-year-old father — has been enjoying a very public high-society existence that seems cruelly to forget the gruesome circumstances of the death of the mother of his four children.
Despite being notoriously reticent, Rausing has been seen at all sorts of glittering upper-crust events such as Royal Ascot, and has even had the honour of being publicly introduced to the Duchess of Cambridge at a black-tie gala dinner.
Meanwhile, having sold his house in Cadogan Place, Rausing has bought a vast house on Cheyne Walk in Chelsea — one of the most prestigious addresses in the capital — from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for £28 million.
He is now embarking on a vast renovation project that is seeing the house stripped of its oligarch makeover, and restored to its former tasteful glories which would be recognised by its previous owners, who include engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, painter James Whistler and, more recently, Tory politician Paul Channon, whose own family was affected by a drugs tragedy when his 22-year-old daughter, Olivia, died of a drink and drugs overdose in 1986.
So how has Rausing managed to manoeuvre himself from being a criminally convicted crack-addicted widower to acceptance back into high society? After all, his behaviour is more befitting the film Trainspotting than the pages of Tatler.
The answer comes in three parts.
The first lies in the simple matter that Rausing appears to have dried out, and has kicked for good what a judge described as his ‘utterly destructive’ drug habit.
Rather than cutting a gaunt, twitching figure, Rausing now looks the model of the bulging billionaire, with a well-trimmed beard, rimless specs and impeccably tailored clothes. Although he looks a decade older than his 53 years, he is a far healthier specimen than he was in 2012.
Nevertheless, he does remain almost cripplingly shy in company, perhaps caused by an understand-able wariness of hangers-on. Some have suggested his reticence may stem from his uncomfortable relationship with his father.
In an interview given in 2008, a former employee of the Rausing family, Richard Bezant, recalled how Hans Rausing always seemed frustrated by his son.
‘Hans K was a dreamer and a disappointment to his father,’ said Mr Bezant, who claimed unfair dismissal after Hans Rausing sacked him in 2001. ‘Rausing was a domineering father. He forced Hans Kristian to sit on boards of his family companies. I’d be at meetings when he didn’t say a word. He was as quiet as a mouse.
‘Maybe things would be better if Rausing had shown more understanding of his son.’
Hans Rausing in Chelsea after he was arrested when his wife’s body was found in their flat in May 2012
Hans Rausing and Julia Delves Broughton attend The Serpentine Gallery summer party at The Serpentine Gallery on July 2, 2015, in London
However, that lack of social confidence may have been somewhat corrected by the second thing that has enabled the restoration of Rausing — a new wife.
She comes in the form of Julia Delves Broughton, 56, who is the granddaughter of Sir ‘Jock’ Delves Broughton, who was a member of the infamously louche Happy Valley set of Kenya in the Thirties and Forties, and was tried — but not convicted — for the murder of Josslyn Hay, the Earl of Erroll, in 1941.
The new Mrs Rausing is as pukka a piece of Establishment arm candy as a middle-aged billionaire could wish for. A mover and shaker in the art world, Julia Rausing rose from being a secretary to becoming a senior director at the auction house Christie’s, where she first met her husband-to-be in 2002.
The younger sister of the late fashionista Isabella Blow, who committed suicide in May 2007, it was Julia who supported Rausing during and after he went into a private clinic to rehabilitate.
Julia Delves Broughton back in July 2010
That relationship turned romantic, and in July 2014, just two years after the body of his first wife was found, the couple married quietly at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, with the Earl of Derby giving the bride away.
If the wedding day was discreet, a party held that November at the prestigious venue One Mayfair in central London was anything but.
Assembled to toast the new Mr and Mrs Rausing were aristocrats, arty-types and assorted acolytes.They included TV presenter Jools Holland, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry’s socialite son Otis and his then girlfriend, model Edie Campbell, milliner Philip Treacy, conservationist Desmond Guinness, property tycoon Gerald Ronson, hedge fund manager Rod Barker and his TV presenter partner Tania Bryer — among others.
It is hard to imagine a greater social advance of fortune in such a short space of time. And it is hard not to conclude that Rausing’s staggering wealth marks the third part of his social rehab. Can money not only buy friends, but ensure they have very short memories?
Hans Rausing is enormously generous with his cash, and it is his munificence that above all cements his place in British high society. Through his Hans K. Rausing Trust, he gives away millions every year to worthy charities. Among them — perhaps unsurprisingly — is Action On Addiction, whose patron is the Duchess of Cambridge. It was at an event hosted by the charity in October 2014 that Rausing and his new wife met the Duchess.
But the Duchess is not the only member of the Royal Family who is sympathetic to Rausing’s woes. Another, even more influential, figure is the Prince of Wales, who has often expressed his appreciation of Rausing’s philanthropy.
In July 2006, the Prince publicly thanked Rausing for the donation he had made to the Prince’s Regeneration Trust. ‘I am delighted to say that we have already attracted some serious support from one very special philanthropist,’ said Prince Charles.
At the time, of course, Eva Rausing was still alive, and she was to receive the backing of the Prince of Wales when she was arrested in 2008 for carrying crack and heroin into the American Embassy in London in her handbag.
The Prince insisted she should be given a ‘second chance’, and refused to allow her to be struck off as a trustee from one of his charities.
As an aide to Charles said at the time: ‘The Prince’s charities work with young people, many of whom have had problems with drugs. They aim to give these people a second chance to help them rebuild their lives.
‘It would therefore be hypocritical for the Prince not to give Eva Rausing a second chance.’
A figure who was close to both Prince Charles and Eva Rausing explained further: ‘He knew of her troubled background and began to feel very paternal towards her.’
Eva Rausing was arrested in 2008 for taking crack and heroin into the American embassy but she won the backing of the Prince of Wales who refused to sack her as a trustee
Last October, an opera about Hans and Eva was performed in Sweden. No one from the Rausing family told the director what they thought of the script
Naturally, His Royal Highness was said to be ‘saddened’ when Mrs Rausing died. Although it is not known how close her husband and the Prince have remained over the past few years, it seems likely that they are in touch.
The fall and subsequent redemption of Hans Kristian Rausing is almost like something from an opera, and as it happens, last October, an opera about him and Eva was performed in Sweden.
When it opened, the director, Tomas Isacsson, revealed how he had sent the script to the Rausing family.
‘We have not received an answer,’ added Isacsson, sounding somewhat surprised.
If he truly thought Hans Kristian Rausing would welcome such a work, then he knows very little about the protagonist of his opera.
For truly, the likes of Hans K. live in a different world, where it seems, you can get away with anything.