If you require further proof that the pandemic has been very good to the plump pocketbooks of the world’s superrich elites, Katharina Otto-Bernstein is a prime example. Forbes says the German writer and filmmaker’s fortune more than doubled in a single year, from $2 billion in April 2020 to a whopping $4.1 billion in April 2021. That’s primarily thanks to her stake in the family business, Otto Group, which was founded by her father, the legendary German entrepreneur Werner Otto.
From his humble beginnings running a startup mail order company in postwar Germany, Otto spent 60 years expanding and diversifying his holdings. By the time of his 2011 death in Berlin, at age 102, he was one of the world’s richest men, with fingers in nearly every industry pot. Otto Group is one of the world’s largest e-commerce brands, with dozens of companies under its umbrella, perhaps the best-known of which is housewares staple Crate & Barrel. Otto Group also provides financial services, while the family’s New York-based Paramount Group is a multibillion-dollar enterprise that owns and manages commercial real estate.
Though she never needed to work, Otto-Bernstein was eager to carve out a name for herself, one separate from her family legacy. After attending boarding school in England, she moved to New York and earned an MFA in film from Columbia University’s Film School. She’s been based in Manhattan ever since, and married Israeli-born art dealer Nathan Bernstein in 1997. The pair has since become New York’s “artistic power couple,” piecing together an extravagant and diverse personal collection that includes works by Anish Kapoor, Andy Warhol, Picasso, Cézanne and Zhang Xiaogang.
Otto-Bernstein has also established herself as a prominent filmmaker, producing the Emmy-nominated documentary “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures” and HBO’s “The Price of Everything,” which focused on the world of contemporary art, among multiple other projects. She and Bernstein maintain many art-filled homes, including an estate in the Hamptons’ Southampton enclave and their main residence, a lavish townhouse in a leafy neighborhood of New York City.
But with the family’s soaring fortune, it’s no surprise that Otto-Bernstein is now feeling more flush than ever. The 58-year-old and her husband have plunked down $13.8 million for an updated midcentury classic on a particularly desirable street in Beverly Hills’ extraordinarily expensive Trousdale Estates enclave. Unsurprisingly, records indicate the couple does not have a loan on the property, which sits behind tall gates and boasts thrilling views of city lights from its hilltop perch.