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Was Karl Marx Rich or Poor?

Marxism is a social, political, and economic theory developed by Karl Marx. The approach focuses on the struggle between the capitalists and the working class. Marx wrote extensively about the power relationships between the capitalists and workers and how the former would inherently be exploitative of the latter, which would cause class conflict. But was Marx ever rich?

By the time Karl Marx passed away, he had left a meager estate of £250 or £25,000 in today’s money. Luckily for his daughter, Marx’s friendship with Friedrich Engels, a German writer, got her an inheritance worth about $4.8 million.

Who is Karl Marx?

Karl Heinrich Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in Brückengasse in Trier. Initially, his family was non-religious Jews but formally converted to Christianity right before he was born. His father, Heinrich Marx, was the first in the family to receive a secular education. Heinrich became a lawyer and with a comfortable upper-middle-class salary. Aside from his income as a lawyer, the family also owned several Moselle vineyards. Being non-religious, Heinrich Marx was a man of enlightenment and took the teachings of philosophers like Voltaire and Immanuel Kant seriously. He was known as a classical liberal.

Karl Marx’s mother, Henriette Pressburg, came from a successful business family that later on founded Philips Electronics. There is not much that is known about Marx’s childhood except that his father privately tutored him until 1830. By the time he was ready for high school, he had attended Trier Highs School headed by Hugo Wyttenbach, a friend of his father’s.

Wyttenbach was a liberal humanist and employed teachers with the same ideals. This eventually incurred the anger of the conservative government. At the age of 17, Marx traveled to the University of Bonn with the hopes of studying Philosophy and Literature. Unfortunately, his father insisted that he study law since it was a more practical choice.

Marx was excused from military duty. He had a condition called a weak chest. During his stay at the university, he was part of the Poets’ Club, which was heavily monitored by the police due to their radical political members. His grades deteriorated because he participated in extracurricular clubs, forcing his father to transfer him to the University of Berlin. (Source: Willamette University)

Karl Marx’s Wealth

Even if Marx’s family was initially well-off, his family became impoverished for the rest of their lives because of his anti-capital core beliefs. He committed himself to his ideals. Marx’s primary source of income was dependent on Friedrich Engels, a German writer and close friend of his.

Marx developed a catarrh that kept him ill for the last 15 months of his life. He passed away as a stateless person at the age of 64. Family and friends buried his body in the Highgate Cemetery on March 17, 1883.

At the time of his passing, Marx left £250 to his estate. In today’s money, this would be around £25,000. Fortunately for his daughters, Engels left a significant amount of his fortune to them. (Source: New York Times)

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