Oligarch's wife seeks €4.6bn in costliest split ever
Published 03/07/2010 | 05:00
A RUSSIAN oligarch is facing the biggest divorce payment in history after his wife demanded a €4.6bn settlement.
Dmitry Rybolovlev (43), a mining magnate ranked as Russia's tenth richest man, is locked in a bitter divorce case with Elena, his wife of 23 years and the mother of his two daughters. At stake are a €74m motor yacht currently moored off the Italian coast and a string of lavish properties from London to Singapore, including a mansion in Palm Beach, bought from Donald Trump.
Mr Rybolovlev's assets also include an art collection stuffed with paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Monet.
Mrs Rybolovleva, also 43, has accused her husband of serial infidelity and of carousing on the couple's yacht with a number of other women. She is said to be "sick to the back teeth of his fondness for other women".
The case, which is being heard at a Swiss court, has exposed the publicity-shy Mr Rybolovlev's high-rolling lifestyle.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Mrs Rybolovleva, who runs a cultural foundation near Geneva, have indicated that she is looking for assets and cash worth close to €4.6bn, or half the wealth that Mr Rybolovlev has accrued since they were married in 1987.
Although Forbes magazine estimated that her husband was worth about €7bn, she believes that he is worth a lot more and has hidden much of his wealth in offshore accounts.
If her claim is successful, it would be the most expensive divorce in history, outstripping print magnate Rupert Murdoch's €1.3bn divorce from Anna, his wife of 32 years.
Mr Rybolovlev was accused in 1996 of ordering the murder of a local businessman and spent 11 months in jail but was acquitted at trial.
He is contesting his wife's claims, saying that she signed a document in 2005 that limited any divorce settlement to just over €75m.
He also maintains that he no longer owns many of the assets to which she is laying claim.
Like many other oligarchs, Mr Rybolovlev acquired industrial assets from the state at a knock-down price in the 1990s.
Until a few weeks ago when he disposed of much of his stake, he was a controlling shareholder in Uralkali, a giant potash fertiliser producer.
The couple have lived primarily in Geneva since 1995. (© Daily Telegraph, London)