Russian Oligarch’s $4.5 Billion Divorce Settlement May be ‘the Most Expensive in History’

Dmitri Rybolovlev at a soccer match with an unidentified woman. (PHILIPPE MERLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Dmitri Rybolovlev at a soccer match with an unidentified woman. (PHILIPPE MERLE/AFP/Getty Images)

It was 2008 when the news hit: Dmitry Rybolovlev was getting divorced. A Swiss court had frozen the many bank accounts belonging to the Russian billionaire, known as the “Fertilizer King,” and he was left reeling.

Sure, the 47-year-old Russian had been unfaithful. But Elena Rybolovlev, the woman he trusted more than anyone in the world — the woman he’d been with since they were kids — knew all about that. “He was not a model husband,” Sergey Chernitsyn, a spokesperson for the oligarch, told the New York Times in 2012. “Mr. Rybolovlev never denied the infidelities, but the wife knew about it for many years and passively accepted it.”

That assumption, however, was inaccurate. And Elena was soon dropping litigious bombs in her petitions. She obtained a court order freezing his assets “to satisfy the monetary award that will be issued in her favor.” She wanted $6 billion — about half of his fortune at the time. Then she described her husband’s “young conquests with his friends, and other oligarchs.”

What followed: years of divorce wranglings that culminated this week in a $4.5 billion settlement that one lawyer calls the “most expensive divorce in history.” (Who knows if this is true? Some billionaires, if they get divorced, seal the documents. But Rupert Murdoch didn’t. His divorce cost him $1.7 billion.)

Rybolovlev vs. Rybolovlev, however, was open to reporters. And its paper trail lays bare the insular, real estate-addled world of a Russian oligarch whose money bought Swiss chaletsthe most expensive property in New York City, a $100-million Donald Trump mansion in Florida, and one of Greece’s most famous private islands.

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SOURCE: TERRENCE MCCOY 
The Washington Post

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