A Russian oligarch’s divorce dubbed the world’s most expensive break up has been finalised a year after he was ordered to pay his disgruntled ex-wife a remarkable £2.9bn ($4.5bn).
Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and his ex-wife Elena yesterday announced they had reached a deal to settle their divorce, following a messy eight-year legal battle.
The very public and bitter feud brought to light accusations of his infidelity on yacht parties and attempts to ‘hide’ assets – including Greek islands and New York properties – out of her reach.
Finally In May last year, a Swiss court awarded Elena Rybolovlev £2.9bn – just over half of her former husband’s £5.5bn ($8.5bn) fortune.
However, on appeal this was stripped down to just £390million ($603m).
Left with a final option of going to the Supreme Court, the pair, both aged 48, have announced an out of court settlement, with the exact figure agreed upon unknown.
According to the latest Forbes billionaires list, he is the world’s 165th richest man and the 14th richest person in Russia.
Mr Rybolovlev met his wife almost 30 years ago when they were students in the Ural mountains.
She remained at his side as he rose from a doctor-turned-entrepreneur into a stockbroker and banker, before becoming chairman and majority shareholder of Russian fertilizer giant Uralkali.
They stayed together during his 11 months in jail – when he was accused of murdering a competitor before the charges were dropped – and when threats on his life led him to wear a bullet-proof vest and move his family to Switzerland.
But he was said to be stunned when he found out about the divorce petition on New Year’s Eve 2008 from his bankers after his accounts were frozen.
Mrs Rybolovleva said she could no longer take his infidelities, alleging parties on yachts where, she said, he had shared some ‘young conquests with his friends, and other oligarchs’.
A Geneva appeals court in June overturned the costly 2014 ruling and downgrading the payment required from Rybolovlev – who is the owner of French football club AS Monaco.
One of the contentious points was Rybolovlev’s worth, as he had transferred shares in 2005 to a trust and then sold them three years later at a huge profit.
Mr Rybolovlev is one of the small group of Russians who became fabulously wealthy during the post-Soviet privatization of the economy and became known as oligarchs.
His wealth is derived from the sale of his stake in Uralkali, a Russian fertiliser business, for $6.5billion in 2010.
The couple married in Cyprus and were together for 23 years, but have been battling over the terms of their divorce since 2008.
The court decided the trusts set up by Mr Rybolovlev should be kept separate from the rest of his billions.
His ex-wife had claimed those trusts were a way for her husband to keep her from her entitled share of his vast wealth.
In 2011, an $88million (£57m) Central Park West penthouse was bought by Mr Rybolovlev’s daughter, Ekaterina, through the trust.
The purchase of the penthouse from the former head of the Citigroup bank, Sanford I.Weill and his wife Joan, was at the time the most expensive home ever bought in New York City.
A $95million £61.5m) Palm Beach home, purchased from tycoon Donald Trump, and a property in Hawaii, bought from Will Smith, are also held by the trust.
Ekaterina, a socialite show jumper, also bought the Greek island of Skorpios from the Onassis dynasty last year for a reported $150million ($97m).
The island was made famous as the location of Aristotle Onassis’s wedding to former First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, in 1968.
Dmitry Rybolovlev has recently made headlines over his conflict with a Swiss art dealer, Yves Bouvier.
The Russian tycoon, a big collector of art, has accused Bouvier of selling him works by the likes of Picasso, Modigliani, Degas and Gauguin at hugely inflated prices.