Splitting assets. To divorce Abramovich, Dasha Zhukova retains a lawyer nicknamed ‘Jaws’
While the media spread information that Abramovich and his wife have split ‘peacefully’ and settled all the financial issues in advance, Darya Zhukova has retained famous divorce lawyer Raymond Tooth who used to represent Irina Malandina, the previous wife of Abramovich, in 2007. The CrimeRussia has found that Zhukova has a good chance to become one of the five richest women in Russia and possibly topple Elena Baturina with her $1 billion fortune.
On August 7, billionaire Roman Abramovich and his wife Darya Zhukova have announced their decision to divorce after 10 years spent together. The press release issued by Millhouse company belonging to Abramovich, states that they “remain close friends, parents of two beautiful children and partners in the joint projects”.
This wouldn’t be a sensation – after all, thousands of people in the world divorce every day – but according to Bloomberg, in 2016, the wealth of Roman Abramovich was $11.4 billion. The peaceful style of the official press release implies that high-profile legal battles are unlikely – Abramovich and Zhukova are civilized people able to settle property matters by mutual accord and without scandals.
Anton Belov, Director of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art founded by Darya Zhukova in Moscow on money provided by Abramovich, confirmed this and noted that both Garage and another joint project of Abramovich and Zhukova – New Holland Island in St. Petersburg ($365 million in investments) – are to develop under the patronage of the divorced couple without any negative implications.
Independent divorce experts believe that Abramovich and Zhukova have settled the property issues long ago – according to sources from their inner circle, they have been living separately since the beginning of 2017. Roman Abramovich mostly resides in Russia attending cultural events sponsored by him on a regular basis, while Darya Zhukova prefers the U.K. and U.S. spending time either with her children or friends from high society, including Stella McCartney, Gwyneth Paltrow, and jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer.
But despite the popular version (originally publicized by Austrian OE24 TV channel and broadly distributed by other media) stating that Zhukova has already received €1 billion from Abramovich, it is still unknown what share of his capitals is to be left to his ex-wife and two children. The marriage with Zhukova was the third one for Abramovich and his previous spouse Irina had received a generous compensation from the oligarch.
Divorce and maiden name
Various experts estimate differently the sum paid to Irina. According to one of the versions, after the breakdown of a marital union that had lasted for 16 years, Irina Abramovich has taken back her maiden last name Malandina and received in the framework of an out-of-court settlement $300 million, an old estate in West Sussex worth £18 million, two apartments in an elite London neighborhood worth together worth £20 million, and Сhateau de la Croe in France worth €15 million.
Roman Abramovich and Irina Malandina have five children
However, according to British tabloids, these are just the most well-known and expensive assets received by Malandina and her five children from Roman Abramovich after the divorce. The total value of assets left to her allegedly amounts to several billion pounds. Fantastic sums are mentioned: according to Daily Express, she has got £3 or even £6 billion – i.e. one half of the total fortune of Abramovich at that time. Of course, the tabloid exaggerates the reality, but a CrimeRussia source states that there is a grain of truth in such rumors. The oligarch has done his best to ensure that his children lack nothing.
According to our information, in addition to the above assets, the former family of Abramovich has got a number of other material values never mentioned officially – luxury transportation means (helicopters and armored limousines), elite racehorses worth hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars (his 20-year-old daughter Sofia is professionally doing equestrian sports, while the stable in the British estate has a capacity for 100 horses), pieces of art, etc. And of course, a round amount of money every month to support the children until their majority.
The CrimeRussia became aware that one of the largest ships in the ‘fleet of Abramovich’ – 115-meter-long yacht Pelorus with two helicopter pads and a submarine purchased for £75 million – has also been left to Irina Malandina in the framework of the out-of-court settlement – although the transfer of the vessel was not announced at the time of the divorce.
Yacht Pelorus belonging to Roman Abramovich in St. Petersburg
It was supposed that “the family of Roman Abramovich can use the yacht for recreation whenever necessary”, but in 2009, Irina Malandina sold it to American producer David Geffen for $300 million. In fact, a full time mother with five children has no need in a vessel whose maintenance cost is $12 million per year – especially taking that, according to our sources, 50-meter-long speedy yacht Sussuro permanently based in an Antibes port on Côte d'Azur in France has also been in possession of the oligarch’s ex-wife and children since the divorce.
Sussuro is a speedy yacht able to make 46 knots
The so-called ‘fleet of Abramovich’ is a myth. Some media outlets claim that the oligarch has at least five luxury yachts, which is not true. Currently Abramovich owns only the second largest yacht in the world – 165-meter-long motor vessel Eclipse built by Blohm + Voss of Hamburg in 2009. After a series of upgrades, Abramovich has purchased it for it $1.5 billion. All other yachts owned by the oligarch in various periods of time, starting from ‘petite’ Stream and Sophie Choice bought from Boris Berezovsky, were either sold or donated to his friends. Yacht Luna has been purchased for $360 million by a friend of Abramovich, Azerbaijani oligarch Farkhad Akhmedov; 85-meter-long Ecstasea has been sold by Merle Wood brokerage to an anonymous purchaser prior to putting it up for sale; while Le Grand Bleu was donated as a reward ‘for good work’ to Evgeny Shvidler, a partner of Abramovich. In fact, this is not about generosity or modesty of the oligarch – the maintenance of elite yachts is enormously expensive. For example, the cost to fill the tanks of Eclipse is $650 thousand, while its annual maintenance cost amounts to some $50 million. It is known that in order to minimize the expenses, Abramovich leases out Eclipse via renown yacht brokers for $2 million per month.
In addition to 70 crewmen and 36 passengers, Eclipse hosts 2 helicopters, 4 motor boats, 20 scooters, and a small submarine
It is necessary to note that Roman and Irina Abramovich had divorced in Chukotka, the official place of permanent residence of Abramovich, then-Governor of the Chukotka Autonomous District, and his family. According to the divorce experts, one of the benefits of divorcing in a Russian court is the possibility not to disclose the details – because only the parties and their attorneys have access to the asset documentation. Therefore, the official information of the compensation received by Irina Malandina after the divorce still remains a secret.
The Press Secretary of the Governor of the Chukotka Autonomous District has stated in March 2007 that the ex-spouses had reached an agreement on the distribution of assets and custody over their five children. Malandina, a former flight attendant-turned-full time mother, has preferred a relatively small – but real – portion of the husband’s fortune over a remote and not guaranteed perspective to get a larger piece of his billions. But according to sources from the inner circle of Abramovich, the situation with it-girl Dasha Zhukova is completely different. The socialite demonstrates a different level, different habits, and quite different appetites.
Life with silver spoon
Dasha was born in 1981 and brought to the U.S. by her mother while being a young girl. Elena Zhukova was a high-class microbiologist; she received a good job offer in America and decided to immigrate. The father of Dasha, Aleksander Zhukov (his real name is Aleksander Shayaborkhovich Rabkin), was inclined to launch a business in the post-Soviet Russia of the 1980s promising miraculous perspectives. He had been successfully selling computers through his Byte cooperative and later established, jointly with partners, Sintez Oil Trade Company. Ultimately, the family has fallen apart and Dasha moved to Los Angeles with her mother. According to The Telegraph, in the first three years, Dasha had studied in a Jewish school and after the relocation to Santa Barbara, she has transferred to Pacific Hills private school where her extensive social connections originate from. When the girl turned 16, her father Aleksander Zhukov – who has made hundreds of millions of dollars on oil trade by that time, relocated to London, and acquired a British citizenship – has invited to her to move to London.
Dasha Zhukova with her father
In the end of the 1990s, Zhukov has divided the assets with his partners, sold his share with a profit (reportedly, his fortune was $500 million at that time), and became one of the first Russian capitalists to buy a property on legendary Kensington Palace Gardens in London. Dasha has relocated from America to the U.K. and lived in the penthouse of his mansion; she enrolled at a prestigious London college to become a homeopath. While Dasha was studying, her father has established Interfinance investment group. It was making successful portfolio investments into Gazprom, Sberbank, and Transneft shares and purchased Ice-Fili ice cream plant in Russia later transformed into Iceberry Group of Companies operating to the present time.
There were some issues though. In 1999, Aleksander Zhukov was mentioned in a criminal case against former U.S.S.R. citizen Aleksander Andreas charged with money laundering in Germany. In 2001, Zhukov was arrested in his own villa in Sardinia on suspicion of having ties with the ‘Ukrainian mafia’ and weapons trafficking. A few years before this, the Italian law enforcement authorities have seized a transport vessel with 30 thousand Kalashnikov submachine guns and 10 thousand rockets, anti-tank mines, grenades, and other munitions going towards the Balkans convulsed with civil war in that period. After spending six months in an Italian jail, Zhukov has been released because the Turin court had failed to prove his involvement into the illegal weapons trade – although three years later, the Italian Parliament named Zhukov “a key member of ‘Solntsevskaya’ gang” in its report dedicated to ‘the Russian mafia’. In 2016, ex-President of Georgia and ex-Governor of the Odessa Region Mikhail Saakashvili had mentioned the leading role of Aleksander Zhukov in the organized crime of Odessa (where the father-in-law of Abramovich still has business interests) and the corruption ties between Zhukov and the Odessa authorities.
Abramovich's house in London
Aleksander Zhukov has introduced his daughter to Roman Abramovich who later purchased a nearby building used as the Military Residence of the Soviet Embassy during World War II for £90 million. Zhukov was familiar with the Chukotka Governor since the early 1990s – at that time, he had successfully traded oil in Sintez, while Abramovich was a novice oil trader. Abramovich and Zhukova have met each other at a party held after a game between Chelsea and Barcelona. Roman Abramovich was married to Irina, while Dasha Zhukova was known as a girlfriend of tennis player Marat Safin who used to call her his bride in public – although during one of the numerous break-ups, she reportedly had a short affair with Freddie Windsor, the heir to Prince Michael of Kent.
But since that life-changing party, Dasha has completely forgotten about tennis and became a football fan – for the next 12 years, she had occupied a seat in the VIP box belonging to Abramovich on Stamford Bridge stadium.
Only in 2015, it went public that Darya Zhukova and Roman Abramovich were officially married – at that time, The Wall Street Journal wrote that the secret ceremony has been held several years ago. It is known that Darya Zhukova had personally approved this article and controlled this ‘information leak’.
However, back in 2007–2008, all the British tabloids had been actively discussing details of the upcoming wedding of Abramovich and Zhukova and tried to estimate its cost. It was announced that the festive ceremonies are to be held in six cities all over the world – in Moscow, Los Angeles, the Maldives, and London. Happy bride Dasha, who has established by that time, jointly with her school friend Christina Tang, a daughter of a Hong Kong billionaire, Kova & T design fashion studio, had personally discussed the details of a wedding dress worth £250 million with designer Roberto Cavalli. However, there were no reports about the ceremony, and for several years, Dasha Zhukova had remained in the status of an ‘oligarch’s girlfriend’ despite the birth of their two children. Sources in the inner circle of Abramovich say that the couple could not agree on the terms of the prenuptial contract for a long time... However, a CrimeRussia source in the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) states that at least one ceremony has been held.
The point is that ethnic Jews Abramovich and Zhukova have a direct relationship to the Orthodox Judaism – Roman Abramovich has been practicing this religion for the last 15 years, while Darya Zhukova has named it her most close belief in an interview. In addition, Roman Abramovich is the Chairman of the FJCR Board of Trustees and one of its main sponsors making generous donations for projects related to the Jewish education in Russia. According to some information, his father-in-law also used to sponsor the FJCR – although in public he prefers to make donations to the Russian Orthodox Church. The source claims that a closed Jewish wedding ceremony (chuppah) has been held back in 2008. According to another FJCR source, Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia, had personally held the ceremony.
The “Honor Board” in the Moscow Jewish Community Center. The size of the inscription and its height reportedly reflect the contribution of the philanthropist
It is necessary to keep in mind that the historical Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage building in Mar’ina Rosha belonging to the Moscow Government has been provided to Abramovich and Zhukova in 2008 with his active support. The building had hosted the Museum of Contemporary Art founded by Darya Zhukova for three years. Thanks to it, the Moscow residents were able to view paintings of famous modern artists, including Mark Rothko, Urs Fischer, Marina Abramovich, and Yayoi Kusama. Later Darya Zhukova has established a magazine of the same name dedicated to culture and arts and became its Editor-in-Chief. In 2016, the magazine has been sold to well-known VICE Media Group, the transaction amount was not disclosed.
Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage
However, Garage magazine was not the sole asset of Zhukova. Since recently, she is known as a successful venture capital investor. Artsy startup founded by her – an online art marketplace – has raised in July 2017 $50 million in investments in the Series D, and according to PitchBook, its post-money value is $275 million.
According to a CrimeRussia source in the venture capital investment sphere, this deal is directly linked with her upcoming divorce from Abramovich. Normally, the Series D is held by a startup prior to the sale to a strategic investor or IPO. The source claims that the ex-husband of Zhukova, who often purchases assets at prices exceeding their market value, is to become the strategic investor of her startup. The source believes that Abramovich is going to do so because this time, the division of property affects not only the possessions of the oligarch, but also his assets. Upon the divorce, Zhukova would likely receive the New Holland Island project – based on preliminary estimations, after the launch, it should bring at least 500 million rubles ($8.4 million) per year in profits.
In 2016, Roman Abramovich was on the 13th position in the Forbes rating of Russian billionaires. He is a tax resident of the Russian Federation. According to Bloomberg, in the last year, his fortune has increased by 6.6% ($709 million) and reached $11.4 billion. Abramovich controls, via offshore companies incorporated in Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands (Lanebrook, Protonius, Marytime, Crispian Investments, Frazar, and Tar Trading) and Millhouse Capital и Highland Gold Mining incorporated in the U.K., 30.76% of EVRAZ steel making and mining company and owns 6.29% of shares in Nornickel mining company and a number of other assets (molybdenum, copper, gold, and silver deposits in Chukotka, developers of Skolkovo Park and Krylatskie Kholmy residential complexes, etc.). According to SPARK-Interfax, Roman Abramovich owns in Russia R.O.S.T. Registrar Joint Stock Company and investment companies ORT KB Limited Liability Company (24% of Shares in Channel One Russia) and Millhouse Estate Limited Liability Company (Belye Sady (White Gardens) Business Center). He owns Chelsea Football Club via U.K.-based Fordstam company. The club was purchased in 2003 for $170 million; with the investments made by Abramovich during the 14 years, the current value of the club has reached $2 billion. It is known that except for the assets used for the benefit of the five children born in the marriage with Irina Malandina, all his real estate, airplanes, and yachts officially belong to irrevocable trusts in offshore territories. The billionaire’s assets are managed by Evgeny Tenenbaum, Head of the Millhouse Office in London, and Irina Panchenko, the oligarch’s confidante. Both of them have been working with Abramovich for almost 20 years.
The ‘love boat’ wrecked on New Holland Island
The investment project in St. Petersburg is believed to be one of the reasons behind the divorce of Abramovich an Zhukova. According to St. Petersburg businessman Anton Vuima, they disagree so much with regards to the future of the project that even had fights on this issue in public.
Roman Abramovich is the primary investor of the reconstruction of an island in St. Petersburg
Apparently, their divorce is not only about the aesthetic disagreements. The media claim that the both spouses had numerous adulteries and affairs with celebrities. Once paparazzi had caught Darya Zhukova kissing with art dealer Vito Schnabel, the boyfriend of supermodel Heidi Klum who has friendly relations with Zhukova. On another occasion, she got caught in the lens with Leonardo DiCaprio. Abramovich reportedly had an affair with ballerina Diana Vishneva who had refuted this information in her interviews pretty hesitatingly and posted her photo on Instagram in Chelsea shirt on the next day after the divorce announcement – thus, sparkling new rumors. Socialite Nadezhda Obolentseva who has recently divorced Airat Iskhakov, a top manager of NefteGazIndustriya Group of Companies, was also named the future life partner of Abramovich...
Contrary to the popular opinion that there would be no litigation, ThisIsMoney reported, citing its sources, that Darya Zhukova has retained – just in case – famous British divorce lawyer Raymond Tooth nicknamed ‘Jaws’. According to the portal, the renown London lawyer, who had represented wives of Jude Law and Eric Clapton in their divorce proceedings, “does not mind to bite off a piece of the Roman’s pie”.
The lawyer has earned his nickname for a number of brilliant victories in courts
Tooth charges £500 per hour; he had represented Irina Malandina, the second wife of Abramovich, in his previous divorce proceeding 10 years ago. Interestingly, in his comment to Daily Mail, the lawyer hasn’t expressed much interest to the upcoming litigation and noted with disappointment that should the parties divorce in Russia, everything is going to be peaceful.
The British lawyer said however that if the divorce takes place in the Great Britain whose legal system is meticulous about the rights of ex-wives and takes into consideration their luxury habits, Abramovich may part with a significant portion of his capital. The divorce with Zhukova is to cost the oligarch 10% to 50% of his fortune – the recent divorce of his friend Farkhad Akhmedov in London confirms this. The court has disregarded the statement of Akhmedov about his “sizable contribution” to the family welfare and awarded 41% of the total wealth – £453 million – to his ex-wife who had confessed to numerous adulteries (including an affair with a brother of her son’s classmate).
According to the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities, Darya Zhukova owns profitless Dzhi Si Company specializing in restaurant business and groceries delivery and Tillidzh Limited Liability Company specializing in retail book sales (the net profit for the year of 2015 was 1.6 million rubles ($27 thousand)). The legal address of the both companies is in the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art on Krymsky val.
The air fleet may be split as well. Roman Abramovich has two airplanes: Boeing 767-33A/ER P4-MES (Bandit) is the primary one, while Dassault Falcon 7X (Mini Bandit) LX-MES is the ‘lady’s choice’
If the divorce case of Abramovich and Zhukova is heard in the U.K. and the court awards only 10% of the oligarch’s fortune to Darya Zhukova, she is going to receive at least $1.5 billion (to compare, the wealth of Elena Baturina, the richest Russian woman according to Forbes, is $1 billion). By the way, Irina Malandina has also been on the Forbes list since her divorce with Abramovich: during the 10 years of their joint life, the oligarch had made plenty of luxury gifts to her, including the Rockefeller’s estate in St. Barts nicknamed the ‘island of billionaires’ and expensive pieces of art – a statue by Alberto Giacometti worth $14 million, collection of paintings by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov worth $60 million, painting by Lucian Freud ($33.6 million), and triptych by Francis Bacon ($86.3 million). Being a true gentleman, Abramovich won’t divide gifts made to the love of his life – even a former one.