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The Botnar legacy

Fondation Botnar was founded in 2003 by Marcela Botnar to continue the philanthropy of herself and her late husband, Octav Botnar. We remain true to our humble family roots by keeping the Botnar family name, maintaining the Botnar’s philanthropic legacy, and through continuing to finance and support several targeted legacy investments.

Marcela Botnar

Marcela Botnar was born Marcela Camelia Perian on 29th July 1928 in the historic city of Alba Iulia in Western Transylvania. When her studies were over, Marcela moved to Bucharest. In 1951 she met and married Octav Botnar, and then gave birth to their only child, Camelia Eugenia, the following year. 

In the 1960s, the family left Romania and settled in the United Kingdom, joining Octav’s brother, Max Bunford. In 1972, Camelia was tragically killed in a car accident just before Christmas at the age of 20. After the death of her husband Octav, Marcela carried out his wishes and created Fondation Botnar, based in Basel, to help children in need around the world.

Octav Botnar

Octav Bundorf (renamed Botnar after the Second World War) was born in 1913 in Chernivtsi, then  Czernowitz, in Austria-Hungary. 

In 1918, Austria-Hungary dissolved, and his hometown, renamed Cernăuţi, became part of Romania. Octav began life as a political activist in Romania and later became a leading member of the French Resistance, fighting to undermine Nazi Germany. He moved back to Romania and married Marcela Camelia Perian in 1951. 

They later moved to the United Kingdom in 1966, where Octav set up and nurtured a successful car business. Following the death of his daughter Camelia, he became a leading philanthropist donating more than USD 100 million throughout his lifetime to causes for children, including the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Camelia Botnar

Octav and Marcela Botnar’s only child Camelia Eugenia Botnar was born on 14th August 1952 in Bucharest, Romania. 

Camelia was known to be intelligent and strong-willed. She initially spent some time at the Lycée Victor Duruy in Paris before joining her parents in London, where she enrolled at the Lycée Francais Charles de Gaulle. After leaving the Lycée, she studied at a university in Paris, where she met her fiancé. The couple were visiting the United Kingdom for Christmas in December 1972 when they were involved in a car accident which killed Camelia.


The sudden loss of Camelia impacted Marcela and Octav differently. While Marcela was visibly heartbroken and visited Camelia’s grave in Gunnersbury Cemetery whenever she was in London, Octav, on the other hand, focused even more on building up his business. He settled his growing fortune into a philanthropic trust and, over the years, established and funded several large and remarkable philanthropic projects in Camelia’s name. Following Octav’s death, Marcela continued philanthropic giving, continuing the legacy of her husband and daughter. 

Marcela died in Switzerland in November 2014 leaving Fondation Botnar as the sole beneficiary of her will.

Targeted investments continuing the Botnar Family legacy.


Botnar Child Road Safety Challenge

As a homage to Camelia, Fondation Botnar funds and leads the Botnar Child Road Safety Challenge with the Global Road Safety Partnership. The Challenge is designed to address locally relevant road safety problems that affect children in small and mid-sized cities in six priority countries with practical, innovative and evidence-based interventions.

The Future Now.
For Young People

Fondation Botnar
St. Alban-Vorstadt 56
4052 Basel
+41 61 201 04 74