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Where Roman Abramovich made his money – from doll salesman to billionaire oligarch – World News

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has been sanctioned by the UK government and his assets frozen – but where did the Russian oligarch come from and how did he earn his billions?

Roman Abramovich has been officially added to the list of people sanctioned by the British government

Roman Abramovich is a name closely linked to wealth and power, but who was the man behind Chelsea Football Club and how did he make his fortune?

The Israeli-Russian businessman is valued at £9.95 billion ($13.1 billion), according to Forbes, and in 2019 he was considered Israel’s second richest person and the eleventh richest in Russia.

The oligarch is said to have been a confidant of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and has been pictured with current leader Vladimir Putin, and he became one of the richest men in the world before he turned 40.

But now the football club’s billionaire owner has been officially added to the UK government’s sanctioned list and his assets have been frozen.

Abramovich and fellow Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska (left)


Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Born in Saratov in 1966, the billionaire oligarch was a hustler from an early age and dropped out of college – selling plastic dolls at a market stall in Moscow to get by.

He also sold rubber duckies from his home, before switching to deodorants and perfumes when he received 2,000 rubles as a wedding present from his in-laws.

But his life changed forever with the introduction of the controversial “loans for equity” program, when Yeltsin sold public shares in companies and services to raise money for a re-election campaign.

Roman’s yacht, the Eclipse, moored in 2013 on the French Riviera


AFP via Getty Images)

Along with the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, the couple bought oil company Sibneft for £100million, a fraction of its estimated value, which they sold in 2005 for £9.95billion.

The sale would have as much to do with politics as with money, because “the group of individuals who control the energy resources of the country will be the real political and economic brokers”.

After the sale, Putin’s government had “de facto control” of “at least 30% of the country’s crude oil production, tightening the Kremlin’s grip on the energy sector”, according to Radio Free Europe .

Roman recently put his beloved Chelsea Football Club up for sale


Getty Images)

Thanks to Berezovsky, Abramovich had key access to government officials and he got an apartment in the Kremlin.

But the couple’s business relationship couldn’t last, and they found themselves in a bitter legal battle over a disputed £3billion debt, alongside allegations of blackmail, breach of trust and rift contract, which Abramovich won.

Despite his involvement in the controversial Russian scheme, the majority of Abramovich’s wealth is believed to come from his dealings with Evraz, a mining company listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Abramovich’s chic London mansion


AFP via Getty Images)

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But that stake is just one of many investments held by the Chelsea owner, and the 55-year-old is notoriously secretive about his wealth and connections.

He is described as “quiet” and “shy” by his friends, including the Marquess of Reading and banking millionaire Lord Rothschild, and according to his biography, he spends his free time on his superyachts, fishing, bowling or watching the soccer.

In 2011, we laid bare Abramovich’s wealth for the first time, when he was worth a more modest £11billion as he had to declare his assets for an election campaign in Chukotka province, in the far east of Russia.

Among his riches were works of art worth more than £50million, including Francis Bacon’s triptych, a £56million Boeing 767-300, which was the most expensive private jet in Russia, and a £600 million yacht – named the Eclipse.

He also owned 16 homes, including a £150million super townhouse in Lowndes Square in London’s Belgravia, the £30million Croe Castle, once owned by Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson, in France, and a £25 million 200-acre ranch in Aspen, Colorado.

His election campaign, which he won with nearly 100% of the vote, was called a “ruthless but bloodless coup” by his unofficial biographer.

Both of Abramovich’s parents died before he was three years old, and he spent most of his childhood living with relatives.

He served briefly in the Russian army, before marrying his first wife, Olga, at age 21.

He has seven children with two other ex-wives, Irina and Dasha.

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