Roman Abramovich

Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich (Russian: Рома́н Арка́дьевич Абрамо́вич, pronounced [rɐˈman ɐrˈkadʲjɪvʲɪtɕ ɐbrɐˈmovʲɪtɕ]; born 24 October 1966)[2] is a Russian-Israeli billionaire businessman, investor and politician.

Roman Abramovich
Abramovich in 2007
Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich

(1966-10-24) 24 October 1966
OccupationBusinessman, entrepreneur, politician
Known for
Net worthUS$12.5 billion (December 2019)[1]
Olga Lysova
(m. 1987; div. 1990)

Irina Malandina
(m. 1991; div. 2007)

Dasha Zhukova
(m. 2008; div. 2017)
Children7, including Arkadiy Abramovich
Governor of Chukotka
In office
17 December 2000  3 July 2008
Preceded byAlexander Nazarov
Succeeded byRoman Kopin

Abramovich is the primary owner of the private investment company Millhouse LLC, and is best known outside Russia as the owner of Chelsea F.C., a Premier League football club. He was formerly governor of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug from 2000 to 2008.

According to Forbes, Abramovich's net worth was US$12.9 billion in 2019[3] making him the richest person in Israel, 11th-richest in Russia, and the 120th-richest person in the world.[1][4] He has donated more money than any other living Russian, with donations between the years 1999 and 2013 of more than US$2.5 billion to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure in Chukotka.[5]

Personal life


Abramovich's family is Jewish and are originally from Tauragė, Lithuania,[6][7][8] with the Lithuanian spelling of the family name being Abramavičius. His father Arkady (Aron) Abramovich (1937–1970) was a state office manager, while his grandfather Nahim (Nahman) Abramovich (1887–1942) was a businessman.[9][10] Nahim (Nahman) Abramovich was born in Eržvilkas, Lithuania and his wife, (Roman Abramovich's paternal grandmother), Tauba (maiden name Berkover) was born in Jurbarkas, Lithuania. They were married in Tauragė, Lithuania in 1925.[11] During the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania, the family and their children were sent to Siberia, as victims of the June deportation. Spouses found themselves in different carriages and lost each other. Abramovich's grandfather, Nahim, died in Gulag camp Reshoty (Решёты) in 1942.[12] Abramovich's mother was Irina Michalenko.[13]

Having lost both parents before the age of 4,[14] Abramovich was raised by relatives and spent much of his youth in the Komi Republic in northern Russia. Abramovich is the Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, a trustee of the Moscow Jewish Museum[15] and donates money to the Chabad movement.[16]

Abramovich has been married and divorced three times. In December 1987, following a brief stint in the Soviet Army, he married Olga Yurevna Lysova;[17] they divorced in 1990. In October 1991, he married a former Russian Aeroflot stewardess, Irina Vyacheslavovna Malandina.[18] They divorced in 2007.[17] He and Malandina have five children; Ilya, Arina, Sofia, Arkadiy and Anna.[18][19] On 15 October 2006, the News of the World reported that Irina had hired two top UK divorce lawyers, following reports of Abramovich's close relationship with the then 25-year-old Dasha Zhukova, daughter of a prominent Russian oligarch, Alexander Zhukov. It was speculated that a future divorce settlement (amounting to a conjectured £5.5 billion (€6.5 billion)) might be the highest ever on record. The Abramovich's replied that neither had consulted attorneys at that point.[20][21] However, they later divorced in Russia in March 2007, with a reported settlement of US$300 million (€213 million).[18][22] Abramovich married Zhukova in 2008,and they have two children, a son, Aaron Alexander, and a daughter, Leah Lou.[19] In August 2017, the couple announced that they would separate and their divorce was finalised in 2018. In 2019, his third wife announced her engagement to Greek billionaire Stavros Niarchos.[23]

Early career

Abramovich started his multibillion-dollar business during his army service.[24] Abramovich first worked as a street-trader, and then as a mechanic at a local factory.[25] At the peak of perestroika, Abramovich sold imported rubber ducks from his Moscow apartment.[26]

Abramovich attended the Gubkin Institute of Oil and Gas in Moscow (where he sold retreaded car tires as a side business [27]), then traded commodities for Runicom, a Swiss trading company.[28]

In 1988, as perestroika opened up opportunities for privatization in the Soviet Union, Abramovich got a chance to legitimise his old business.[29] He and Olga set up a company making dolls. Within a few years his wealth spread from oil conglomerates to pig farms.[30] He has traded in timber, sugar, food stuffs and other kinds of products.[31] Abramovich set up and liquidated at least 20 companies during the early 1990s, in sectors as diverse as tire retreading and bodyguard recruitment.[32][33]

Thus the main stages of Abramovich's financial career were January 1989 to May 1991, as chairman of the Comfort Co-op (manufacturer of plastic toys), and May 1991 to May 1993, as director of the ABK small enterprise in Moscow. From 1992 to 1995, Abramovich founded five companies, including Mekong, that conducted resale, produced consumer goods, and acted as intermediaries, eventually specializing in the trading of oil products. He began selling oil from Noyabrsk.

In 1992 he was arrested and sent to prison in a case of theft of government property: AVEKS-Komi sent a train containing 55 cisterns of diesel fuel, worth 3.8 million roubles, from the Ukhta Oil Refinery; Abramovich met the train in Moscow and resent the shipment to the Kaliningrad military base under a fake agreement, but the fuel arrived in Riga. Abramovich co-operated with the investigation, and the case was closed after the oil production factory was compensated by the diesel's buyer, the Latvian-US company, Chikora International.[17]

In May 1995, jointly with Boris Berezovsky, he set up the P.K. Trust close joint-stock company. In 1995 and 1996, he established another 10 firms: Mekong close joint-stock company, Centurion-M close joint-stock company, Agrofert limited liability company, Multitrans close joint-stock company, Oilimpex close joint-stock company, Sibreal close joint-stock company, Forneft close joint-stock company, Servet close joint-stock company, Branco close joint-stock company, Vector-A limited liability company, which, again together with Berezovsky, he used to purchase the shares of the Sibneft public company.[34]

The Guardian describes Abramovich's career as follows:[35]

By 1996, at the age of 30, Abramovich had become so rich and politically well-connected that he had become close to President Boris Yeltsin, and had moved into an apartment in the Kremlin at the invitation of the Yeltsin family. In 1999, and now a tycoon, Abramovich was elected governor of Russia's remote, far eastern province of Chukotka, and has since lavished £112 million (€132 million) on charity to rebuild the impoverished region. The identikit image being pieced together for us was of a self-made man who was not only powerful and wealthy, but acutely aware of those who had done less well in the tumultuous 1990s, when the Soviet Union fell.

Friendship with Boris Berezovsky

According to two different sources, Abramovich first met Berezovsky either at a meeting with the Russian businessmen in the Caribbean in 1993[36] or in the summer of 1995 on the yacht of his friend Pyotr Aven.[37]

Berezovsky introduced Abramovich to "the family", the close circle around the then president, Boris Yeltsin, which included his daughter Tatyana Dyachenko and chief security adviser, Alexander Korzhakov.[36]

Together with Berezovsky, Abramovich founded the offshore company Gibraltar-registered Runicom Ltd. and five Western European subsidiaries. Abramovich headed the Moscow affiliate of the Swiss firm, Runicom S.A. In August 1995, Sibneft was created by Boris Yeltsin's presidential decree. It was rumored that Abramovich was the chief of the organization with Berezovsky promoting the business in higher circles.[17]

Acquisition of Sibneft, loans-for-shares, and aluminium wars

In 1995, Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky acquired a controlling interest in the large oil company Sibneft. The deal took place within the controversial loans-for-shares program and each partner paid US$100 million for half of the company, above the stake's stock market value of US$150 million at the time, and rapidly turned it up into billions. The fast-rising value of the company led many observers, in hindsight, to suggest that the real cost of the company should have been in the billions of dollars (it was worth US$2.7 billion at that time) [38][39] Abramovich later admitted in court that he paid huge bribes (in billions) to government officials and obtained protection from gangsters to acquire these and other assets (including aluminium assets during the aluminium wars).[40]

As of 2000, Sibneft produced around US$3 billion worth of oil annually.[41] Abramovich established several "fly-by-night" firms and together with Boris Berezovsky used them to acquire the stock of Sibneft.

The Times claimed that he was assisted by Badri Patarkatsishvili in the acquisition of Sibneft.[42][43][44][45] After Sibneft, Abramovich's next target was the aluminium industry. After privatisation the 'aluminium wars' led to murders of smelting plant managers, metals traders and journalists as groups battled for control of the industry. Abramovich was initially hesitant to enter into the aluminium business, claiming that "every three days someone was murdered in that business".[46] He famously emerged as one of the winners of the aluminium wars.[42] The Times stated that in a BBC investigation into Abramovich's wealth, reporter John Sweeney noted that, after the oligarch (Abramovich) emerged at the top of the trade, the murders stopped.[47]

Relationship with Boris Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili

In 2011, a transcript emerged of a taped conversation that took place between Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky at Le Bourget airport in December 2000. Badri Patarkatsishvili, a close acquaintance of Berezovsky, was also present and secretly had the conversation recorded.[48][49] During the discussion, Berezovsky spoke of how they should "legalise" their aluminium business, and later claimed in court that he was an undisclosed shareholder in the aluminium assets and that "legalisation" in this case meant to make his ownership "official". In response, Abramovich states in the transcript that they cannot legalise because the other party in the 50-50 joint venture (Rusal) would need to do the same, in a supposed reference to his business partner Oleg Deripaska. Besides Deripaska, references are made to several other players in the aluminium industry at the time that would have had to "legalise" their stake. Abramovich's lawyers later claimed that "legalisation" meant structuring protection payments to Berezovsky to ensure they complied with Western antimoney-laundering regulations.[50][51]

The Times also notes:[42]

Mr Abramovich discloses that there was a showdown at St Moritz airport in Switzerland in 2001 when Mr [Badri] Patarkatsishvili asked him to pay US$1.3 billion (€925 million) to Mr Berezovsky. "The defendant agreed to pay this amount on the basis that it would be the final request for payment by Mr Berezovsky and that he and Mr Patarkatsishvili would cease to associate themselves publicly with him and his business interests." The payment was duly made.

Mr Abramovich was also willing to pay off Mr Patarkatsishvili. He states that he agreed to pay US$585 million (€416 million) "by way of final payment".

Mr Abramovich denies that he helped himself to Mr Berezovsky's interests in Sibneft and aluminium or that he threatened a friend of the exile. "It is denied that Mr Abramovich made or was party to the alleged explicit or implicit coercive threats or intimidation," he states.

According to court-papers submitted by Abramovich and seen by The Times (UK),[42] Abramovich mentions in the court-papers:

Prior to the August 1995 decree [of Sibneft's creation], the defendant [Abramovich] informed Mr Berezovsky that he wished to acquire a controlling interest in Sibneft on its creation. In return for the defendant [Abramovich] agreeing to provide Mr Berezovsky with funds he required in connection with the cash flow of [his TV company] ORT, Mr Berezovsky agreed he would use his personal and political influence to support the project and assist in the passage of the necessary legislative steps leading to the creation of Sibneft.

Mr Patarkatsishvili did ... provide assistance to the defendant in the defendant's acquisition of assets in the Russian aluminium industry.

According to the Mirror Online, Abramovich paid Berezovsky tens, and even hundreds, of millions every year for "krysha", or mafia protection.[52]

Investments in Technology

In 2015, Abramovich invested and led a $30 million round of funding with businessman OD Kobo Chairman of PIR Equities.[53][54] Other partners include several well-known people from the music industry, among them David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Tiësto, Avicii,, Benny Andersson, Dave Holmes (manager of Coldplay) and others.[55]

Furthermore, Abramovich is invested in few other startups in different fields. Among them is BrainQ, an Israeli startup which develops artificial intelligence-powered technologies to treat neuro disorders, such as stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.[56] Also StoreDot, founded by Dr. Doron Myersdorf, where Abramovich has invested over $30 million.[57]

Relationship with Russian leaders

Boris Yeltsin

By 1996, at the age of 30, Abramovich had become close to President Boris Yeltsin, and had moved into an apartment inside the Kremlin at the invitation of the Yeltsin family.[35]

In 1999, the 33-year-old Abramovich was elected governor of the Russian province of Chukotka. He ran for a second term as governor in 2005. The Kremlin press service reported that Abramovich's name had been sent for approval as governor for another term to Chukotka's local parliament, which confirmed his appointment on 21 October 2005.

Vladimir Putin

Abramovich was the first person to originally recommend to Yeltsin that Vladimir Putin be his successor as the Russian president.[58]:135 When Putin formed his first cabinet as Prime Minister in 1999, Abramovich interviewed each of the candidates for cabinet positions before they were approved.[39]:102 Subsequently, Abramovich would remain one of Putin's closest confidants. In 2007, Putin consulted in meetings with Abramovich on the question of who should be his successor as president; Medvedev was personally recommended by Abramovich.[58]:135, 271

Chris Hutchins, a biographer of Putin, describes the relationship between the Russian president and Abramovich as like that between a father and a favorite son. Abramovich himself says that when he addresses Putin he uses the Russian language's formal "Вы" (like Spanish "usted", German "Sie", Italian "lei" or French "vous"), as opposed to the informal "ты" (Spanish "tú", German "du", Italian "tu" or French "tu"). Abramovich says that the reason is because 'he is more senior than me'.[59] Within the Kremlin, Abramovich is referred to as "Mr A".[52]

In September 2012, the High Court judge Elizabeth Gloster said that Abramovich's influence on Putin was limited: "There was no evidential basis supporting the contention that Mr Abramovich was in a position to manipulate, or otherwise influence, President Putin, or officers in his administration, to exercise their powers in such a way as to enable Mr Abramovich to achieve his own commercial goals."[60]

Abramovich is one of many Russian "oligarchs" named in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA, signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2017.[61]

Political career

Duma member

In 1999, Abramovich was elected to the State Duma as the representative for the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, an impoverished region in the Russian Far East. He started the charity Pole of Hope to help the people of Chukotka, especially children, and in December 2000, was elected governor of Chukotka, replacing Alexander Nazarov.


Abramovich was the governor of Chukotka from 2000 to 2008. It has been estimated that he spent over US$1.3 billion (€925 million) of his own money on the region,[62] which now has one of the highest birth rates in Russia.[63] Under Abramovich, living standards improved, schools and housing were restored and new investors were being drawn to the region.[64]

In 2003, Abramovich was named Person of the Year by Expert, a Russian business magazine. He shared this title with Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Abramovich was awarded the Order of Honour for his "huge contribution to the economic development of the autonomous district [of Chukotka]", by a decree signed by the President of Russia.[65]


In early July 2008 it was announced that President Dmitri Medvedev had accepted Abramovich's request to resign as governor of Chukotka, although his various charitable activities in the region would continue. In the period 2000–2006 the average salaries in Chukotka increased from about US$165 (€117/£100) per month in 2000 to US$826 (€588/£500) per month in 2006.[17][66]


Roman Abramovich has been alleged to be involved in various wrongdoings. The Times said that Abramovich "famously emerged triumphant after the 'aluminium wars', in which more than 100 people are believed to have been killed in gangland feuds over control of the lucrative smelters."[42][67]

Boris Berezovsky allegations

Boris Berezovsky (his one-time business partner) alleged in 2008 that Abramovich harassed him with "threats and intimidation" to cheat him to sell his valuable shares of Sibneft at less than their true worth.

In 2011, Berezovsky brought a civil case against Abramovich, called Berezovsky v Abramovich,[68] in the High Court of Justice in London, accusing Abramovich of blackmail, breach of trust and breach of contract, and seeking over £3 billion in damages.[69]

On 31 August 2012, the High Court dismissed the lawsuit. The High Court judge stated that because of the nature of the evidence, the case hinged on whether to believe Berezovsky or Abramovich's evidence. The judge found Berezovsky to be "an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable witness, who regarded truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be moulded to suit his current purposes", whereas Abramovich was seen as "a truthful, and on the whole, reliable witness".[69][70]


In 2008, The Times reported that Abramovich admitted that he paid billions of dollars for political favours and protection fees to obtain a big share of Russia's oil and aluminium assets as was shown by court papers obtained by The Times.[42]

Allegations of illegal share-dilution

Yugraneft, an affiliate of Sibir Energy, is seeking billions of dollars in damages in a lawsuit in London against Roman Abramovich and his investment company Millhouse Capital, alleging that he was cheated out of its Russian assets.[71] The proceedings "involve substantial claims to recover the proceeds of the diluted interest", said Sibir Energy, a company co-owned by the billionaire Shalva Chigirinsky.[71]

Arrest for theft

In 1992, he was arrested in a case of theft of government property. AVEKS-Komi sent a train containing 55 cisterns (tankers) of diesel fuel, worth Р3.8 million (Roubles), from the Ukhta Oil Refinery to Moscow. (Case No. 79067 for the large-scale theft of state property);[72] Abramovich met the train in Moscow and re-sent the shipment to the Kaliningrad military base under a fake agreement, but the fuel arrived in Riga. Abramovich cooperated with the investigation, and the charges were dropped after the oil production factory was compensated by the diesel's buyer, the Latvian-U.S. concern Chikora International.[17]

Allegations of loan fraud

An allegation emerging from a Swiss investigation links Roman Abramovich, through a former company, and numerous other Russian politicians, industrialists and bankers to using a US$4.8 billion (€3.4 billion) loan from the IMF as personal slush fund; an audit sponsored by the IMF itself determined that all of the IMF funds had been used appropriately.[73]

In January 2005, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) indicated that it would be suing Abramovich over a £9 million (US$14.9 million/€10.6 million) loan.[74] The EBRD said that it is owed US$17.5 million (€12.45 million/£10.6 million) by Runicom, a Switzerland-based oil trading business which had been controlled by Abramovich and Eugene Shvidler. Abramovich's spokesman indicated that the loan had previously been repaid.[75]

Antitrust law violation in Russia

Russia's antitrust body, the Federal Antimonopoly Service, claimed that Evraz Holding, owned in part by Abramovich, had breached Russian competition law by offering unfavorable terms for contractors and discriminating against domestic consumers for coking coal, a key material used in steel production.[76]

Dispute with Kolomoyskyi

According to Putin, Abramovich has been cheated by Ukrainian-Cypriot-Israeli oligarch Igor Kolomoyskyi. Putin claimed in 2014 that Kolomoyskyi had reneged on a contract with Abramovich, saying that the pair signed a multibillion-dollar deal on which Kolomoyskyi never delivered.[77]

European football

Chelsea F.C.

In June 2003, Abramovich became the owner of the companies that control Chelsea Football Club in West London. The previous owner of the club was Ken Bates, who went on to buy Leeds United. Chelsea immediately embarked on an ambitious programme of commercial development, with the aim of making it a worldwide brand on a par with footballing dynasties such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, and also announced plans to build a new state-of-the-art training complex in Cobham, Surrey.[78]

Since the takeover, the club have won 13 major trophies – the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League twice, the Premier League five times, the FA Cup four times (with 2010 providing the club's first ever league and FA Cup double), and the League Cup three times, making Chelsea the second most successful English trophy winning team in the decade with 15 honours, behind only Manchester United with 17 honours in the same time span. His tenure has also been marked by rapid turnover in managers, who can be fired if they do not bring immediate success and maintain it.

Detractors have used the term "Chelski" semi-affectionately to refer to the new Chelsea under Abramovich, to highlight the modern phenomena of billionaires buying football clubs and "purchasing trophies", by using their personal wealth to snap up marquee players at will, distorting the transfer market, citing the acquisition of Andriy Shevchenko for a then-British record transfer fee of around £30 million (€35.3 million)[79]

In the year ending June 2005, Chelsea posted record losses of £140 million (€165 million) and the club was not expected to record a trading profit before 2010, although this decreased to reported losses of £80.2 million (€94.3 million) in the year ending June 2006.[80] In a December 2006 interview, Abramovich stated that he expected Chelsea's transfer spending to fall in years to come.[81]

UEFA responded to the precarious profit/loss landscape of clubs, some owned by billionaires, but others simply financial juggernauts like Real Madrid, with Financial Fair Play regulations.

Chelsea finished their first season after the takeover in second place in the Premier League, up from fourth the previous year. They also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, which was eventually won by surprise contender Porto, managed by José Mourinho. For Abramovich's second season at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho was recruited as the new manager, replacing the incumbent Claudio Ranieri. Chelsea ended the 2004–05 season as league champions for the first time in 50 years and only the second time in their history.

Abramovich is present at nearly every Chelsea game and shows visible emotion during matches, a sign taken by supporters to indicate a genuine love for the sport, and usually visits the players in the dressing room following each match. This stopped for a time in early 2007, when press reports appeared of a feud between Abramovich and manager Mourinho regarding the performance of certain players, notably Andriy Shevchenko.[82]

In the early hours of 20 September 2007, Mourinho announced his exit as Chelsea manager by mutual consent with the club following a meeting with the board.[83] The former Israel coach and Chelsea's director of football, Avram Grant, was named as his replacement.[84] Ever since Grant had joined Chelsea in 2007, there had been friction between him and Mourinho. Mourinho reportedly told Grant not to interfere in team affairs but, with Abramovich's backing, Grant's profile at the club rose after he was made a member of the board. This event apparently did not go down well with Mourinho and may have contributed to his surprise departure.[85] Grant led Chelsea to the position of runners-up in the Premiership and the club's first appearance in the Champions League final, beaten by Manchester United on both accounts. Nevertheless, on 24 May 2008, Grant was sacked as manager by Abramovich.[86]

On 11 June 2008, it was announced that Luiz Felipe Scolari, who had taken Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002, would be taking over as manager, but he only lasted until 9 February 2009 before being sacked. In February 2009, acclaimed coach Guus Hiddink was appointed caretaker manager for the rest of the 2008–09 season, delivering Chelsea's first post-Mourinho trophy with the FA Cup.

Hiddink was replaced by another former European Cup winning boss, Carlo Ancelotti. In May 2010, Ancelotti took Chelsea to their first league and FA Cup "double" in his first season as manager. The following season, in January 2011, Spanish footballer Fernando Torres completed his move to Chelsea on a 5 12-year contract on 31 January for an undisclosed fee, reported to be £50 million, which set a new record for a British transfer and made him the fourth most expensive footballer in history. Ancelotti was sacked as manager at the end of his second season with the club in May 2011.[87]

André Villas-Boas, after taking Porto to a Europa League triumph, and having previously worked alongside Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, was appointed as Abramovich's seventh manager of Chelsea on 22 June 2011. Villas-Boas, however, was sacked in on 4 March due to a bad run of form, with only one win in 11 games. The next manager was Roberto Di Matteo, who was appointed to this role after winning the Champions League and the FA Cup serving in a caretaker capacity. Di Matteo was also sacked on 21 November 2012 after their 3–0 loss to Juventus.[88] Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez was appointed as manager for the remainder of the club's campaign. He won Chelsea the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League against Benfica before leaving at the end of his term as interim manager.

After the 2012–13 season, Benítez left Chelsea, whereupon José Mourinho returned as manager, signing a four-year deal.[89] On 1 July 2013, Chelsea celebrated ten years under Abramovich's ownership. Before the first game of the 2013–14 season against Hull City on 18 August 2013, the Russian thanked Chelsea supporters for ten years of support in a short message on the front cover of the match programme, saying, "We have had a great decade together and the club could not have achieved it all without you. Thanks for your support and here's to many more years of success."

In December 2015, José Mourinho was sacked after a ninth defeat in 16 Premier League matches left Chelsea just one point above the relegation zone.[90] Guus Hiddink took over as manager from December to June 2016 after which he was sacked due to the club going several matches without a win and not qualifying for a spot in the Champions League.

On 4 April 2016, it was confirmed Antonio Conte had signed a three-year contract. The Italian officially took over at Stamford Bridge, replacing interim manager Guus Hiddink after guiding his country to the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2016.

Conte had two successful years as head coach of Chelsea after being appointed in April 2016, winning the title in his first season and the FA Cup in his second. Despite the FA Cup success, he led Chelsea finished fifth in the league at the end of the 2017–18 season, missing out on Champions League qualification. Conte was dismissed as Chelsea manager on 13 July 2018.

In March 2017, Chelsea announced it had received approval to for a revamped £500m stadium at Stamford Bridge with a capacity of up to 60,000.[91]

On 14 July 2018, Maurizio Sarri was appointed manager of Chelsea, replacing Antonio Conte who was sacked the day before. However, he departed after just one season - for Italian giants Juventus - where he won the Europa League, reached the Carabao Cup final and finished 3rd. The departure was marked as Sarri wanted to leave, as compared to all other managers under Abramovich's tenure who were dismissed.[92]

Following the delay in the renewal of Abramovich's British visa by the Home Office, and his subsequent withdrawal of the application, in May 2018 Chelsea halted plans to build a £500m stadium in south-west London due to the "unfavourable investment climate" and the lack of assurances about Abramovich's immigration status. Abramovich was set to invest hundreds of millions of pounds for the construction of the stadium.[93][94]

CSKA Moscow

In March 2004, Sibneft agreed to a three-year sponsorship deal worth €41.3 million (US$58 million) with the Russian team CSKA Moscow. Although the company explained that the decision was made at management level, some viewed the deal as an attempt by Abramovich to counter accusations of being "unpatriotic" which were made at the time of the Chelsea purchase. UEFA rules prevent one person owning more than one team participating in UEFA competitions, so Abramovich has no equity interest in CSKA. A lawyer, Alexandre Garese, is one of his partners in CSKA.

Following an investigation, Abramovich was cleared by UEFA of having a conflict of interest.[95] Nevertheless, he was named "most influential person in Russian football" in the Russian magazine Pro Sport at the end of June 2004. In May 2005, CSKA won the UEFA Cup, becoming the first Russian club ever to win a major European football competition. In October 2005, however, Abramovich sold his interest in Sibneft and the company's new owner Gazprom, which sponsors Zenit Saint Petersburg, cancelled the sponsorship deal.[96]

Russian national team

Abramovich also played a large role in bringing Guus Hiddink to Russia to coach the Russia national football team.[97] Piet de Visser, a former head scout of Hiddink's club PSV Eindhoven and now a personal assistant to Abramovich at Chelsea, recommended Hiddink to the Chelsea owner.[98]

National Academy of Football

In addition to his involvement in professional football, Abramovich sponsors a foundation in Russia called the National Academy of Football. The organization sponsors youth sports programs throughout the country and has constructed more than fifty football pitches in various cities and towns. It also funds training programs for coaches, prints instruction materials, renovates sports facilities and takes top coaches and students on trips to visit professional football clubs in England, the Netherlands and Spain. In 2006 the Academy of Football took over the administration of the Konoplyov football academy at Primorsky, near Togliatti, Samara Oblast, where over 1,000 youths are in residence, following the death at 38 of its founder, Yuri Konoplev.[99]


According to Forbes, as of March 2016, Abramovich had a net worth of US$7.6 billion, ranking him as the 151st richest person in the world.[100] Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, he was considered to be the second richest person living within the United Kingdom.[101] Early in 2009, The Times estimated that due to the global economic crisis he had lost £3 billion from his £11.7 billion wealth.[102]

Wealth rankings

Year The Sunday Times
Rich List
The World's Billionaires
Rank Net worth (GB£) Rank Net worth (US$)
2010[103] 2 £7.40 billion


$11.2 billion
2011[104][103] 3 £10.30 billion 53 $13.4 billion
2012[105][106] 3 £9.50 billion 68 $12.1 billion
2013[107][108] 5 £9.30 billion 107 $10.3 billion
2014[109] 9 £8.42 billion 137 $9.10 billion
2015[110][111] 10 £7.29 billion 137 $9.10 billion
2016[112][100] 13 £6.40 billion 151 $7.60 billion
2017[113][114] 13 £8.053 billion 139 $11.50 billion
2018[115][116] 13 £9.333 billion 140 $11.70 billion
Icon Description
Has not changed from the previous year
Has increased from the previous year
Has decreased from the previous year

Charitable donations

Abramovich has reportedly donated more money to charity than any other living Russian.[5] Between 2009 and 2013, Abramovich donated more than US$2.5 billion to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure in Chukotka. In addition, Evraz Plc (EVR), the steelmaker partly owned by Abramovich, donated US$164 million for social projects between 2010 through 2012, an amount that is excluded in Abramovich's US$310 million donations during this period.[5]

Abramovich has reportedly spent approximately GB£1.5 bn on the Pole of Hope, his charity set up to help those in the Arctic region of Chukotka, where he was governor.[117] In June 2019, Abramovich donated $5 million to a nonprofit called the Jewish Agency for Israel, to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism globally.[118]

Other interests and activities


Roman Abramovich sponsored an exhibition of photographs of Uzbekistan by renowned Soviet photographer Max Penson (1893–1959) which opened on 29 November 2006 at the Gilbert Collection at Somerset House in London. He previously funded the exhibition "Quiet Resistance: Russian Pictorial Photography 1900s–1930s" at the same gallery in 2005.[119] Both exhibits were organized by the Moscow House of Photography.[120]

In May 2008, Abramovich emerged as a major buyer in the international art auction market. He purchased Francis Bacon's Triptych 1976 for €61.4 million (US$86.3 million) (a record price for a post-war work of art) and Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping for €23.9 million (US$33.6 million) (a record price for a work by a living artist).[121]

His partner Dasha Zhukova is managing a Garage Center for Contemporary Culture - gallery of contemporary art in Moscow that was initially housed in the historical Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage building by Konstantin Melnikov. The building, neglected for decades and partially taken apart by previous tenants, was restored in 2007–2008 and reopened to the public in September 2008. Speed and expense of restoration is credited to sponsorship by Abramovich.[122]


Abramovich has become the world's greatest spender on luxury yachts, and always maintains a fleet of yachts which the media have called "Abramovich's Navy":[123]

Current boats:

  • Eclipse 162.5 metres (533 ft) – Built in Germany by Blohm + Voss, she was launched in September 2009.[124] Abramovich was due to take delivery of the yacht in December 2009,[125] but was delayed for almost a year after extensive sea trials. The yacht's interior and exterior were designed by Terence Disdale. Eclipse is believed to have cost Abramovich around US$400 million and was the world's largest privately owned yacht until it was eclipsed in 2013 by the 180 metres (590 ft) Azzam. The specification includes at least two swimming pools, a cinema, two helicopter landing-pads, several on-board tenders and a submarine that can be launched and dive to a depth of 160 ft. She is also equipped with armour plating surrounding the bridge and Abramovich's master suite, as well as bullet proof windows.[126]

In November 2017 the yacht docked in the port of Palm Beach, coinciding with President Trump's Thanksgiving holiday at nearby Mar-a-Lago.[127]

Former boats:

  • Pelorus 115 metres (377 ft) – Built by Lurssen for Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh in 2003, original owner of M/Y Coral Island and M/Y Sussurro, who received six offers to sell her before she was even completed. The Sheikh accepted the highest bid which was Abramovich. The interior was designed by Terence Disdale. The exterior was designed by Tim Heywood. Pelorus was refitted by Blohm + Voss in 2005 adding a new forward helipad and zero speed stabilizers. Given to Irina in 2009 as part of the divorce settlement, she was approached on David Geffen's behalf by broker Merle Wood, with Geffen paying US$300 million to take ownership in 2011.[128]
  • Sussurro 49.5 metres (162 ft) – Built by Feadship in 1998 for Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh.
  • Ecstasea 85 metres (279 ft) – Largest Feadship built at launch in 2004 for Abramovich. She has a gas turbine alongside the conventional diesels which gives her high cruising speed. Abramovich sold the boat to the Al Nayhan family in 2009.[129]
  • Le Grand Bleu 112 metres (367 ft) – Formerly owned by John McCaw, Abramovich bought the expedition yacht in 2003 and had her completely refitted by Blohm + Voss, including a 16 ft (4.9 m) swim platform and sports dock. He presented her as a gift to his associate and friend Eugene Shvidler in June 2006.
  • Luna 115 metres (377 ft) – Built by Lloyd Werft and delivered to Roman Abramovich in 2009 as an upgraded replacement for his Le Grand Bleu expedition yacht.[130] Sold to close friend, Azerbaijani born self-made billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov in April 2014 for US$360m. Boasts a 1 million litre fuel tank, 7 engines outputting 15,000 hp propelling Luna to a maximum speed of 25 knots, 8 tenders, 15 cm ice-class steel hull and 10 VIP Cabins.


Abramovich owns a private Boeing 767-33A/ER, registered in Aruba as P4-MES. It is known as Bandit[131] due to its livery. Originally the aircraft was ordered by Hawaiian Airlines but the order was cancelled and Abramovich bought it from Boeing and refitted it to his own requirements by Andrew Winch, who designed the interior and exterior. The aircraft was estimated in 2016 to cost US$300 million and its interior is reported to include a 30-seat dining room, a boardroom, master bedrooms, luxury bathrooms with showers, and a spacious living room. The aircraft has the same air missile avoidance system as Air Force One.[131]

New Year's Eve celebrations

In 2011, Abramovich hired the Red Hot Chili Peppers to perform for a reported £5m.[132] The performance by Red Hot Chili Peppers included a special appearance from Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals.[132] Abramovich reportedly spent £5 million on a total of 300 guests,[132] including George Lucas, Martha Stewart, Marc Jacobs and Jimmy Buffett. In 2014, Abramovich hired British singer Robbie Williams to headline a New Year's dinner for President Putin's "inner circle". The party took place in Moscow and appears to have been the inspiration for Williams' song "Party Like a Russian".[133]

Israeli citizenship

In May 2018, Abramovich became an Israeli citizen a month after the UK delayed renewing his visa. Following the Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, British authorities delayed the renewal of his visa, as tensions rose between the UK and Russia.[134] Abramovich had been travelling in and out of the UK for years on a Tier-1 investor visa, designed for wealthy foreigners who invest at least £2 million in Britain. Abramovich, who is Russian Jewish, exercised his right under Israel's Law of Return, which states that Jews from anywhere in the world can become citizens of Israel. As an Israeli, Abramovich can now visit Britain visa-free.[135][136]

Abramovich owns the Varsano boutique hotel in Tel Aviv's Neve Tzedek neighborhood, which he bought for 100 million NIS in 2015. He is converting it into his Israeli home. He bought the hotel from Gal Gadot's husband Yaron Varsano and Varsano's brother Guy.[137]

Abramovich has also invested in more than a dozen Israeli startups including rapid-battery charger technology developer Storedot.[137] In 2018, he donated 70 million NIS for the Sheba Hospital in Tel HaShomer, for nuclear medicine research.[138]

Attempted residency in Switzerland

In 2016, Abramovich applied for residency in Switzerland, intending to move to the ski resort of Verbier. Swiss authorities denied the application after the Swiss Federal Office of Police concluded that Abramovich was under "suspicion of money laundering and presumed contacts with criminal organisations", and that his assets were "at least partially of illegal origin". Abramovich unsuccessfully took legal action to prevent Swiss media from reporting on the matter, and denied the allegations.[139][140]

Megamansion in New York City

Abramovich purchased for $74 million and is combining four Upper East Side townhouses in Manhattan in New York City into a megamansion; 9, 11, 13, and 15 East 74th Street.[141][142] The combined megamansion will be 19,400 square feet, and it is estimated that renovation costs will be an additional $100 million.[142]

See also


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  • Midgley, Dominic; Hutchins, Chris (3 May 2005). Abramovich: The Billionaire from Nowhere. Harper Collins Willow. ISBN 978-0-00-718984-7.
  • Hoffman, David (4 December 2003). The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia. Public Affairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-202-2.
  • Bennetts, Marc (15 May 2008). Football Dynamo – Modern Russia and the People's Game. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-1319-4.
  • Stenning, Paul (31 October 2010). Waste of Money: Overspending in Football. Pitch Publishing. ISBN 978-1905411931.
Government offices
Preceded by
Alexander Nazarov
Governor of Chukotka
2000 – 3 July 2008
Succeeded by
Roman Kopin
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