Gaston Glock death: Billionaire inventor of the Glock handgun who knocked out a professional wrestler assassin sent to kill him aged 70 and ‘revolutionised the world of small arms’ dies aged 94
The reclusive billionaire inventor of the Glock pistol, Gaston Glock, who “revolutionized the world of handguns,” has died at the age of 94.
The Glock company said in a statement that its founder's life's work would “continue in his spirit.”
The weapon is not only used by security personnel, armed forces, gun owners and criminals around the world, but has also become a staple of American pop culture, appearing in several Hollywood blockbusters.
Despite his success, Glock, who once took out a professional wrestler to kill him, is portrayed as a reclusive character who liked to spend much of his time at an Austrian lakeside estate.
He managed to avoid media coverage for most of his life, but came to attention in 2012 when a book about his company was published, following a divorce from his first wife Helga in 2011.
Gaston Glock at an event in Velden, Austria on October 23, 2008
Arnold Schwarzenegger loads a high-capacity magazine into the Glock 18 in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Charles Ewert, who managed Glock's business in Luxembourg, tried to have him killed in the late 1990s.
The hired attacker, a professional wrestler, hit him on the head seven times with a rubber mallet, but Glock, who was 70 at the time, managed to knock him out.
Ewert – also known as Panama Charly – was sentenced to 20 years in prison for organizing the attempted murder in a Luxembourg car park.
“Gaston Glock has spent his life charting the strategic direction of the Glock Group and preparing it for the future,” the company said.
It was also noted that he had “revolutionized the world of small arms” and “succeeded in establishing the Glock brand as the world leader in the small arms industry.”
Glock was born in 1929 and studied mechanical engineering in Vienna.
In 1963 he founded his own consumer goods company in the town of Deutsch-Wagram, twenty kilometers outside the capital.
By the early 1980s, Glock had started focusing on military supplies and decided to respond to a tender from the Austrian military, which wanted to renew its pistols.
He designed the Glock, a firearm that revolutionized the field: made largely of non-metallic components, lighter, easier to take apart, more reliable and able to carry more bullets than other brands.
Once the contract with the Austrian military was finalized, the company's fortunes soared as it entered the American market before going global.
Gaston Glock and his wife Kathrin Tschikof. Glock married Tschikof, who is 51 years his junior, in 2011
Between 2014 and 2017 alone, the company's value is estimated to have increased by almost 50 percent, and in 2021, Forbes estimated the fortune of Gaston Glock and his family at $1.1 billion.
American pop culture in particular helped Glock achieve its iconic status.
“In the late 1990s, Glock was the most mentioned brand” on the US Top 50 singles chart, Fritz Ofner, one of the directors of a film about the Glock, said in 2018.
Glock designed and patented a lightweight 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol that could fire 18 rounds and was easy to reload.
Paul Barrett, the author of Glock: The Rise of America's Gun, wrote that the Glock was now “the Google of modern civilian pistols: the pioneer brand that defines its product category.”
Due to the Glock's ubiquity in pop culture, numerous rappers, including the Wu-Tang Clan, have incorporated mentions of the gun into their lyrics.
In 2014, his then-ex-wife tried unsuccessfully to sue Glock for $500 million, accusing him of extortion and taking money from the company, and of treating his family “with the senseless and self-destructive rage of Shakespeare's King Lear'.
The lawsuit made numerous claims about how Glock spent the money, including hiring strippers to represent the company at trade shows.
In 2011, Glock married a woman 51 years his junior, Kathrin Tschikof.
Glock and company were not reluctant to use legal means to defend their reputation, but this was not always successful.
In 2012, the company lost a long-running defamation lawsuit against the human rights group Amnesty International, which had drawn attention to reports of the use of a Glock weapon by rebels in Sudan.
Glock is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.