Break out the vodka and caviar!
Russian comrades might have made a show of spreading the wealth equally in the days of communism -- but no more. The country's 1 percent has embraced capitalism to such an extent that dozens of fabulously wealthy oligarchs live super-sized lifestyles, splurging around the world.
In America and Europe, Russia's uber-rich have bought up expensive homes in New York and Miami, scooped up priceless artwork, taken stakes in businesses and landmark buildings, and even dropped millions for sports teams.
These billionaires are not on the list of Russians whose assets have been ordered frozen by President Obama because of Moscow's moves to force the secession of Crimea from Ukraine, but their influence in the West has not gone unnoticed.
Their fortunes are such that financiers in the world's banking capitals are falling over each other to help these loaded Russians make investments. Britain's financial center, the City of London, was even jokingly dubbed "LondonGrad" recently because of the amount of business done there on behalf of the Russian billionaires.
Here's a look at some of the bold-faced names, many of whom made vast fortunes in the energy and natural resources industries after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The 47-year-old made his fortune in a series of oil export deals in the early 1990s and has a net worth of more than $9 billion according to Forbes magazine. But his stake in steel giant Evraz lost almost two-thirds of its value in 2013, driven down by falling steel prices and a global steel glut. His 18 percent stake in Highland Gold Mining also did poorly.
He was reported to be in contract last year to close on a Fifth Avenue townhouse on Central Park, New York city for a staggering $75 million. The deal fell through, but Forbes sources now say it's back on.
Abramovich is well known in Europe as the owner of London's Chelsea FC soccer club, which has won three English Premier League titles and one European Champions League title since he took over the team 10 years ago.
He also owns the world's largest yacht, the 533-foot Eclipse, which cost him $400 million in 2010. He has a 377-foot ice boat, the Luna, a Boeing 767 and homes in London, France, St. Barts, Colorado and Los Angeles. His art collection includes 40 paintings by Ilya Kabakov, the most expensive living Russian artist.
He was rumored to be the buyer of Francis Bacon's "Three Studies Of Lucian Freud," which sold for $142.4 million last November. Abramovich paid $86 million for "Triptych, 1976" in 2008 -- previously the highest amount paid for a Bacon work
Worth an estimated $10.9 billion
, according to Forbes, Prokhorov has political ambitions and ran for president of Russia in 2012. The tycoon worked initially at an international bank that dealt with the former Soviet bloc and then moved to another financial institution that was acquiring state assets. He and Vladimir Potanin, now a fellow billionaire, formed Onexim Bank, which handled loans to the government and treasury obligations, then dealt with bankrupt state enterprises.
In the mid- to late 1990s, during Russia's privatization process, Onexim supervised the auctions that gave it and other banks the right to lend to the government. When the government defaulted on the loans, the banks acquired the shares in conpanies. In 1995 Onexim got control of mining giant Norilsk Nickel--the foundation of phenomenal wealth for both him and Potanin.
Prokhorov, who is 6-foot-8, played basketball and enjoys other sports, including jet skiing. He joined with several partners, including rapper Jay-Z, in bidding for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. In 2010, the NBA approved the sale to Prokhorov, making him the majority owner of the team with an 80-percent stake. He also acquired a 45-percent interest in the new Barclays Center sports and entertainment arena.
The richest man in Russia, Usmanov made his $18.6 billion fortune in iron ore and steel and now has interests ranging from telecommunications to media. He has also owned shares in U.S. companies such as Facebook and Apple and is a part owner of another English Premier League soccer club, Arsenal.
In 2013 he formed USM Holdings, dividing with billionaire partners Andrey Skoch and Farhad Moshiri nearly all of his businesses. In 2013 the partners sold all the shares in Facebook they owned, and they bought and then sold a stake in Apple for a substantial profit.
Rybolovlev, who was valued by Forbes last year as being worth $9.1 billion, is a philanthropist who made his money in the potash business. He is famous for his real estates moves in the United States and elsewhere. He bought the Maison de L’Amitie mansion in Florida from Donald Trump for $95 million in 2008 and in 2011 Rybololev reportedly bought a mansion from Hollywood star Will Smith on Kauai, Hawaii, for $20 million. He is also said to have paid $300 million for a belle epoque penthouse in Monaco where he lives.
In December 2011, Rybolovlev’s daughter Ekaterina purchased the most expensive apartment to have been bought at that time in New York City for $88 million. She also bought the Greek island of Skorpios, which once belonged to shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, for $153 million.
The owner of Russian Standard Bank and Russian Standard Vodka is worth an estimated $1.1 billion. He owns one of the most expensive homes in Miami Beach -- a $25.5 million estate on Star Island. And like many of his fellow Russian oligarchs, that's about all we know about him.
First published March 18 2014, 1:39 PM