Sourced from The Daily Mail
The poor orphan, Roman Abramovich, morphed into a super-rich tycoon
worth over £9 billion ($12 bn) after being befriended by Vladimir Putin
From a grim start in life as an orphan in Russia’s bleak Komi republic, Roman Abramovich has come a long way. Now worth an estimated £9.3 billion, he is the world’s 139th richest person and owns a fleet of super-yachts and private jets.
His sumptuous yacht Eclipse, a 533ft gin palace, has two helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, three launch boats and a mini-submarine. His aircraft include a Boeing 767 with the same air missile avoidance system as Air Force One, a Gulfstream jet and a nippy Dassault Falcon dubbed ‘Mini Bandit’. Yet his vast wealth has never been fully chronicled – not that fans at his trophy-laden football club Chelsea seem to mind.
Mr Abramovich, 51, was orphaned aged four and left school at 16. He studied engineering, then went into business, first as a mechanic and then heading a co-operative making plastic ducks and other toys, earning a paltry £2,000 ($2,700) a year.
But during the tumultuous decade that followed the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, he was drawn into a circle of businessmen close to the Kremlin. The group bankrolled Boris Yeltsin in 1996 and were credited with ‘buying’ his presidential victory, and went on to back the next leader . . . Vladimir Putin.
Many of these favoured businessmen were given the chance to snap up Russia’s state assets during an era of ‘privatisation’. Mr Abramovich eventually emerged as the joint-owner of the Sibneft oil group. His closeness to Mr Putin goes back a long way. Mr Abramovich was one of his early supporters, recommending him for the top Kremlin job to Boris Yeltsin when the ailing leader was looking for a successor.
According to the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky in evidence to the High Court in London, Mr Abramovich enjoyed significant political influence in Moscow in the second half of the 1990s.
In October 1999, he attended Mr Putin’s birthday party. Soon afterwards, Mr Abramovich allegedly bought Mr Putin, then the prime minister, a $50million (£37million) yacht.
‘The request came from Mr Putin,’ Mr Berezovsky said in evidence.
LD : This is not the $50 million yacht Roman Abramovich gave President Putin as a gift; it is Abramovich’s own super-yacht, the Eclipse, worth at least ten times as much ($500 million). This is apparently the second most expensive yacht in the world. The most expensive is reportedly worth over $1 billion and is still under construction, so it has no owner yet. (Here it is, pictured, a vast floating palace).
In 2003, Mr Abramovich bought Chelsea for £60 million ($80 million). Two years later, he was involved in a much larger transaction when he sold his oil company, Sibneft, to state-run Gazprom. He got $13 billion.
He began spending time in London, where he owns a 15-bedroom Victorian mansion on ‘Billionaire’s Row’ in Kensington, bought in 2009 for a reported £97 million and now worth at least £150 million ($200 million). He also owns a row of four townhouses in Manhattan and a string of other properties across the globe.
He married his first wife, Olga Lysova, in 1987, and his second, former Russian Aeroflot stewardess Irina Malandina, in 1991. They had five children before divorcing in 2007, with Miss Maladina accepting a reported settlement of £230million ($307 million). He split from his third wife, art collector and gallery director Dasha Zhukova, last year after a decade together and two more children.
The billionaire’s visa difficulties do not seem to be hampering his global travel, though the exact location of the fiercely private oligarch is unknown.
Yesterday one unconfirmed report suggested he was sailing with friends in the Caribbean. But the Eclipse was moored in Antibes in the South of France, and yesterday afternoon his Gulfstream 650 private jet flew from nearby Monaco to Russia.
In recent years, he has been mainly living in Moscow, where he remains close to Mr Putin. If he does not get his British visa sorted out, he could be spending even more time there.