Eventually, even Piech's own brother Hans Michel sided with the other half of the family, and a pact was forged two years ago that saw Ferdinand sell his $1 billion-plus stake in the family's investment vehicle that controls VW to his younger sibling.
Never once did Piech reveal his motivations behind the falling out, instead remaining an enigma to all around him. Many who worked closely with him would never profess to actually knowing him — not even members of his extended family such as Wolfgang, who were often targets of his derision.
Piech famously belittled the Porsche clan for lacking drive, claiming they were far more interested in "knitting, crocheting and playing the flute." He even stole the wife of his cousin Gerhard Porsche, only to leave her for their nanny.
He leaves behind at least a dozen acknowledged children from four women, yet is not known to be close to any save for those he fathered with his final wife, Ursula. One son even seemed to openly defy him when presenting at this year's Geneva auto show his own Piech Zero production car built entirely without his father's support or knowledge.
In a statement that was both respectful yet devoid of nostalgia, Wolfgang Porsche said he "shared many memories" with Piech, citing specifically their boardroom struggle for control over VW — a struggle in which they more often than not stood on opposing sides.
"We grieve with the family of Ferdinand K. Piech, the extraordinary manager and engineer, the strategist and quite simply the auto enthusiast that he was during his lifetime," said Porsche.
Death is an inevitability, but it still seems somehow impossible to imagine that the Grim Reaper proved even more implacable than Piech himself. Perhaps that iron will of his was nothing without a purpose. Bereft of Volkswagen at the end of his days, Piech chose submission for once in his life.
In that sense, the greatest tragedy in last week's news was that Piech died estranged from the one enduring center of his universe: Volkswagen.