Vera Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort (born 14 May 1939 in Königsberg, East Prussia, now known as Kaliningrad, Russia) is a German model, actress, and artist who was popular during the 1960s. Often known simply as Veruschka or Veruschka von Lehndorff, she is a daughter of Heinrich Graf von Lehndorff-Steinort, a member of the German Resistance.
Veruschka was born on 14 May 1939 in East Prussia as Vera Gottliebe Anna Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort. For a short time, she enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle residing in East Prussia in a large house on an enormous estate that had been in her family for centuries. Her mother was the former Countess Gottliebe von Kalnein (b. 1913). Her father was a German count and army reserve officer who became a key member of the German Resistance, reportedly after witnessing Jewish children being beaten and killed. When Veruschka was five years old, her father was executed for attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the July 20 Plot. After his death, the remaining family members spent their times in labor camps until the end of World War II. By the end of the war, her family was left homeless. As a young girl, she attended 13 schools. She has three sisters: Marie Eleanore “Nona” (b. 1937, married Jan van Haeften and Wolf Siegfried Wagner, son of Wieland Wagner and grandson of composer Richard Wagner), Gabriele (b. 1942, married Armin, Edler Herr und Freiherr von Plotho), and Katharina (b. 1944, married Henrik Kappelhoff-Wulff).
She studied art in Hamburg and then moved to Florence, where she was discovered at age 20 by the photographer Ugo Mulas and became a full-time model. In Paris, she met Eileen Ford, head of the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency. In 1961, she moved to New York City, but soon returned to Munich. She had also garnered attention when she made a brief five minute appearance in the 1966 cult film Blowup by Michelangelo Antonioni.
She once worked with Salvador Dalí and photographer Peter Beard, who took her to Kenya. At her peak, she earned as much as $10,000 a day. In 1975, however, she departed from the fashion industry due to disagreements with Grace Mirabella, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Vogue.
Occasionally Veruschka still appears on catwalks. She was a guest model in the Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2000 in Australia. In October 2010, at the age of 71, she modeled for Giles Deacon’s showing for the fall run of London Fashion Week.