This isn't shaping up to be an especially good year for New York's ultra-rich. According to Forbes, Moscow recently overtook NYC as the city with the most billionaires per square mile: Moscow had 74 people worth ten figures compared to New York, which had just 71. But those smarmy bazillionaires aren't staying put in Moscow or even in the de-facto Russian mogul ghetto of London. Many of them are spending time right here in New York: Real estate, oil, and metals scions from Russia and other former Soviet republics have been busy snatching up some of the most expensive apartments the city has to offer. Last month, a 42-year-old fertilizer kingpin named Dmitry Rybolovlev agreed to pay $100 million for Donald Trump's Palm Beach mansion, Maison de l'Amitié. The 59th richest man in the world, worth some $12.8 billion, his purchase includes a 33,000-square-foot home and 6.5 acres of land. But he isn't the only one. After the jump, a list of the novi Russki who spend time in New York—just who these Soviet oligarchs are, how they made their money, and what exactly they're up to in town.
A Russian Jew, Blavatnik moved to the U.S. in 1978 when he was 21. He's now worth a reported $7.2 billion thanks to investments in coal, real estate, aluminum, petrochemicals, and plastics. His primary holding company is called Access Industries; he's also a partner in the Renova Group with Viktor Vekselberg (see below). Blavatnik is a part-time resident of the city—he also spends a good deal of time in London—but he's been on a real estate buying spree in New York City over the past year. He owns a East 64th Street townhouse that he purchased from Edgar Bronfman Jr. for $51 million, and is rumored to be behind the 2008 purchase of the townhouse once occupied by Jocelyne Wildenstein. In London, he lives in a home in Kensington Park Gardens that he purchased for $73 million in 2006.
A native of Uzbekistan, Leviev moved to Israel and now divides his time between the religious enclave of B'nai Brak and a home in London. Worth an estimated $8 billion, Leviev made a fortune from real estate and oil, but he's best known for his investments in the diamond trade. (He's partly responsible for breaking up the De Beers diamond cartel.) A close pal of Vladimir Putin, Leviev is a devotee of the Brooklyn-based ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement (a former business partner is fellow Chabadnik Shaya Boymelgreen). He's also a major patron of Jewish causes in the former Soviet Union.
Leviev's holding company, Africa Israel Investments, is one of New York City's biggest landlords. The company owns such properties as 23 Wall Street, 88 Leonard, and Downtown by Philippe Starck; it also holds stakes in the Apthorp on the Upper West Side, the Met Life Clock Tower at 1 Madison, the old New York Times building, and an eponymous diamond boutique on Madison Avenue. His diamond company, LLD USA, is headquartered on 47th and 5th. Although he comes to town frequently, his primary residence is in London, where he lives in a $70 million home with a $100,000 bulletproof front door.
41-year-old Abramovich is Russia's second-richest man, with a fortune estimated at $23.5 billion in 2008. Through his fund, Millhouse Capital, Abramovich has significant investments in aircraft and aluminum industries; he's also the owner of the popular British soccer team Chelsea Football Club. He may be most famous, though, for his penchant for spending money. Abramovich is believed to own five jumbo ships (the largest of which is the 377-foot Pelorus) and it was Abramovich who paid $2 million to have Amy Winehouse perform at the opening of his new art gallery in Moscow in 2008.
Abramovich spends most of his time in Moscow and London with his twenty-something girlfriend; with his ex-wife, Irina, a former Aeroflot stewardess, he has five children. His London home in Belgravia is worth an estimated $60 million. (He also has an estate in West Sussex worth $40 million.) But he's now in the process of building the most expensive home in Britain, a manse that will end up costing him $150 million when all is said and done. But Abramovich spends a considerable amount of time in New York, too. He's a regular at contemporary art auctions and in May 2008, he spent $33.6 million on Lucien Freud's Supervisor Sleeping at Christie's—the most ever paid for a painting by a living artist—and then $86.3 million on a Francis Bacon triptych at Sotheby's a day later. He commutes to NYC aboard a Boeing 767 and reportedly stays in the Ty Warner suite at the Four Seasons on 57th Street. The 4,300-square-foot suite includes four terraces and private gym and costs $30,000 a night.
Worth more than $2 billion accordng to Forbes, Anisimov (or Anisimova) made his fortune in the metal industry, particularly in the aluminum mining business. (One of his business partners was Marc Rich, the ex-husband of Denise Rich; another former business partner is Leonard Blavatnik.) He's also a major real estate investor in New York: His Coral Realty owns a number of properties in the area around NYU and developed the Sugar Warehouse and the Electra, a luxury rental on First Avenue. He also owns a residential complex in Jersey City.
He's best known, though, as the father of socialite Anna Anisimova, and he occasionally stays with his daughter at the $15 million condo he purchased for her in the Time Warner Center. It's a smaller family these days: In 2000 Anisimova's daughter from his first marriage and his son-in-law were assassinated in Russia.
A native of the republic of Georgia, Sapir moved to the U.S. in the 1970s and drove a cab for a spell when he first arrived. He later made his fortune in the electronics trade and chemicals industry before turning to real estate. His first big project, 2 Broadway, resulted in a flurry of lawsuits and accusations of ties to the Mob; more recently, he co-developed the William Beaver House with Andre Balazs and partnered with Donald Trump on the Trump Soho.
Sapir spends most of his time in NYC. He bought the Duke-Semans mansion on Fifth Avenue for $40 million in 2006, but he doesn't live there. (He uses the space to house his massive ivory collection.) He primarily lives in a spread at the Trump Tower, and also owns massive estates on Long Island and in Acapulco.
Worth $11.2 billion according to Forbes, Vekselberg presides over the Renova Group with business partner Leonard Blavatnik. The company makes its money in the oil and aluminum industries. Vekselberg was in the news in 2004 after he purchased the famed Faberge egg collection of publishing magnate Malcom Forbes (put up for auction by Steve Forbes) at Sotheby's for a figure believed to be near $100 million. The bearded billionaire owns a lavish spread in Weston, Connecticut and a pied-à-terre in the Park Millennium in Midtown. His daughter attended Yale business school.
Just 36, Melnichenko is worth $6.2 billion per Forbes. After making an initial fortune in currency trading, he created an industrial empire with fellow billionaire Sergei Popov. He landed in the newspapers in New York when his MDM-Bank was involved in the scandal in which Russian organized crime rings were accused of laundering $7 billion through the Bank of New York. He's also known for his lavish spending. His 2005 wedding to a Serbian model near Cannes cost him $40 million, including a $3.6 million for a performance by Christina Aguilera. He paid Jennifer Lopez $2 million to perform at his wife's 30th birthday party in 2007.
Worth $3.5 billion, Tariko is best known for creating the high-end brand of Russian vodka, Russian Standard, but he also owns banking and insurance businesses under the Russian Standard name. In New York, he's best known for spending $3 million in 2005 on a party on Liberty Island to introduce his vodka to New Yorkers. Tariko commutes to New York aboard his Boeing Business Jet and says he likes to run in Central Park when he's here. He also enjoys inviting notable New Yorkers to visit him in Russia. He gave Martha Stewart a grand tour in 2007, zipping the domestic diva around the Russian capital in his black Bugatti Veyron, the only one in Russia.
Just 35, Gordeev made his billion-plus fortune in real estate. He's also involved in politics—he holds a seat in the Russian senate. An avid architecture enthusiast, Gordeev earned a rep as the savior of ugly Soviet-style buildings. Here in New York, he's donated heavily to the Guggenheim. It was Gordeev who bankrolled the exhibition "Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1922-32" at the MoMA in 2007.
The chairman of East Line Group, which controls Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport, Kogan has a net worth estimated at $600 million. He was relatively unknown in these parts until he proposed to knock down his 20,000-square-foot home in Greenwich (which he bought for $18 million in 2005) and then build the biggest house the city has ever seen: a 54,000-square-foot mega-mansion complete with 26 bathrooms as well as a dog grooming room and Russian and Finnish baths. Greenwich's zoning commission officially rejected Kogan's plans in May 2008.
A gambling magnate, Belotserkovsky is the co-owner of Ritzio Entertainment Group, Russia's biggest casino company. He's publicly condemned Putin for placing restrictions on gambling in Russia and attempting to relegate casinos in the provinces. That might explain why he spend a good deal of time in New York these days. When he's in town, he's stays at a $5 million condo in the Plaza.
The CEO of the major Russian bank Evrofinance, the shadowy Stolyarenko bunks down in a $10.1 million condo at the Plaza when he's in Manhattan. He's known for having especially close ties the Kremlin, unlike his Plaza neighbor Belotserkovsky (see above), which must make for awkward elevator conversation.
Trained as a mathematician, Berezovsky took over a crumbling Russian automaker in the immediate aftermath of the USSR's collapse and parlayed it into bigger things: He's now worth $1.3 billion, according to Forbes, and has since diversified into oil and other industries. Russian prosecutors tried and failed to extradite London-living Berezovsky for crimes he committed during the "wild capitalism" era of the 90s. He later sued Forbes after its Moscow bureau chief, Paul Klebnikov, tied him to to the assassination of prominent television journalist Vladislav Listyev. The case was settled, although Paul Klebnikov was also later assassinated. In recent years, Berezovsky has earned the enmity of the Putin regime by openly questioning the government's involvement in the poisoning death of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvineko. (Putin et al pointed the finger at him in turn.) Although based in London, he spends a good deal of time in New York, where his Foundation for Civil Liberties is based. He has a pied-a-terre in the Trump International building.