Russia, the largest country in the world, is never far from international news these days: from the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, to the latest controversy from the ever contentious President Vladimir Putin, Russia is a nation that consistently holds our attention – and yet, for many, Russia maintains an air of mystery. The end of Communism in 1991 radically changed the nation with the country’s once tightly-controlled natural resources suddenly up for sale to the most enterprising – and, more importantly, luckiest – Russians. Those who had the chance to cut themselves a piece of the oil-rich pie have done well for themselves, with many oil magnates now cosying up to the big wigs in the Kremlin- whether for better or for worse.
That said, life still remains uncertain for many Russians, even the billionaires. The Global Financial Crisis diminished the fortune of many an oligarch, while increasingly those who step into the political arena find themselves biting off more than they can chew. High profile cases like the imprisonment and death of Boris Berezovsky in the UK highlight, for many, the precarious position these businessmen can find themselves in should they become too vocal in Russian public life. Add to this the political and ethnic tensions in many regions of the country and the result is a nation’s struggle to define itself since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
One thing however is clear: the glamorous heiresses of the Russian millionaire class signal a new era in Russian society. These women are the first since before the Tsar was overthrown to have such opulent luxury handed down to them from their parents. The majority of Moscow’s billionaires began life as civil servants and engineers and the jet-setting lifestyles are a far cry from the lives of the average Russian. In fact, many of these loaded ladies spend more time flitting between London and New York than they do in their motherland of Russia. If you’re interested in beguilin, exotic women who enjoy the finer things in life, we’ve compiled a list ten of the wealthiest heiresses in Russia today. Although some of the women featured may not be single – and their fathers have been know to be disapproving of the nature of media attention surrounding them – these beautiful women live fascinating lifestyles worth knowing about.
10. Ksenia Sobchak: $5 million
If many an heiress could be called the Paris Hilton of Russia, then Ksenia Sobchak – as Harper’s Bazaar has aptly pointed out – is definitely their Kim Kardashian. Sobchak’s wealth may not land her very high up on our list of Russian heiresses, but money is not this society girl’s real power. As the daughter of the late Anatoly Sobchak, mentor to the current Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sobchak’s contact list reads like a who’s who of contemporary Russia. However, the 32 year old has been courting controversy with the press in Russia for years: the party girl, who also is a regular television presenter in her homeland, has made her career as a celebrity. A string of high-profile relationships, two planned marriages that were never to be, and a front-row seat at any major party event means that Russians have mixed feels about this pretty, blonde socialite. More recently Sobchak has made headlines speaking out against the authoritative political style of the Russian President, driving a wedge between the two sides of her family; Sobchak’s mother Lyudmila Narusova remains a sitting member of parliament.
9. Alsou Safina: $350 Million
Alsou Safina may not be the wealthiest member of our rich list, but her family is among the most influential in Russia. Safina – who in Russia is known only by her first name, Alsou – is the daughter of one of Russia’s biggest oligarchs, Ralif Safin. In spite of this, the billions were slow to come to the Safin family – Alsou spent her early childhood living modestly with her family in Siberia. As founder of the oil empire LUKoil, however, Ralif Safin secured his daughter’s future, and the heiress is now renowned in her own right in her native Russia as a pop star- even releasing a duet with Enrique Iglesias. The minted family are known for more than just their oil: with alleged links to the Russian mafia as well as Alsou’s father’s move into politics, the Safin dynasty is not a family to be messed with. If this weren’t enough to deter you from pursuing the wealthy pop star, her lucky husband, Yan Abramov, probably is. As part of their wedding present, the bride’s parents gave the couple a $10 million penthouse in Moscow as well as a ‘dacha’, or country cottage, for the couple to kick back in.
8. Kira Plastinina: $600 Million
If it’s a socialite you are after, then look no further than Ms. Kira Plastinina. The precocious 21 year old has in many ways eclipsed her wealthy father Sergei Plastinin – who was CEO at one of Eurpe’s largest dairy producers, Wimm-Bill-Dann before its sale to PepsiCo. At the tender age of 16, Kira-along with her father’s financial backing- founded a fast-fashion label named after-who else?- herself. Most of the adult world collectively laughed at her attempt – within in a year the brand’s 12 US stores had closed and the company filed for bankruptcy. Since then Plastinina has followed the more conventional path of any teenager, completing high school and attending university at Southern Methodist University, Texas. But the fashion dreams remained and in her native Russia the teen forged ahead with the low-cost line, with the brand now operating 300 stores in the country. 2013 then saw the heiress expand into the luxury goods industry, creating the high-end fashion line Lublu which she designs with the help of her team in Moscow; all while she’s still a student.
7. Anna Abramovich: $3.4 Billion
20 year old Anna Abramovich is the eldest daughter of billionaire Russian mogul, Roman Abramovich. Anna’s father is quite possibly Russia’s most famous billionaire owning football clubs, yachts and mansions to rival royalty. Anna, unsurprisingly has inherited her father’s taste for the finer things in life: her sweet sixteenth birthday cost a reported $600,000, which is small change when your father is worth $10.2 billion. Anna, who is currently enrolled at Westminster University in London, lives with her mother in the city and is known for her penchant for partying- the heiress has been known to hit the dance floor with Will.I.Am, amongst others. As one of the younger members of our list, Anna’s spending habits seem comparatively low-key. But rest assured – if the other Russian heiresses’ habits are anything to go by – given time this heiress will be flashing her cash credentials.
6. Anna Anisimova: $3.4 Billion
While the previous heiresses on our list all display the glitz and glamour of the Russian elite, Anna Anisimova utterly embodies it: As the daughter of Vasily Anisimov, who made his fortune in mining and metals in Russia, Anisimova has lived a life that has led her to be described as the Russian Paris Hilton. Educated in the United States, Anisimova is a regular on the Manhattan socialite scene and she’s famous for her lavish spending habits. The heiress’ passion is real estate: Her own 75th floor apartment in the Time Warner Centre went on the market in 2012 for $50 million, five times what her father paid for it in 2004. However, as the phrase goes, all that is gold does not glitter. There is a dark side to the Anisimov family that is, in many ways, visible in Anna’s own upbringing. At the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia became a dangerous place for the families of wealthy businessmen and Vasily decided to send his wife and young daughter to the United States. Anna only saw her wealthy father when he visited once a month. Anna’s half-sister, who was married and living in the city of Yekaterinburg in Russia, remained there only to be murdered along with her husband in her own home. The Anisimov family have since remained in the US, with Anna and her mother now holding American citizenship. Anna’s story is an indication, perhaps, of a more sordid undercurrent of Russian wealth.
5. Anastasia Potanina: $5 Billion
Anastasia Potanina has had everything an heiress could dream of: the daughter of Vladimir Potanin, Anastasia spends her time enjoying the outdoors in Russia. But while most of us learned to ski on the baby slopes with every other kid our age, Anastasia had private lessons on her own indoor slope built in her Moscow home. As an adult, the heiress’ career has been in aqua-biking- or jet ski racing to you and me- from which she retired after injuring her leg. Sports remain at the heart of Potanina’s career however, and the famous heiress has been a key player around the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi next month. More controversially, however, in 2010 Potanina’s father Vladimir declared that he would follow the ranks of the great and the good of the world by donating his fortune to charity upon his death. This would mean that his daughter Anastasia will miss out on the $5 billion inheritance he has built up through his media empire in Russia. A philanthropist like her father apparently, Anastasia has come out in support of her father’s decision – telling a Moscow newspaper that she was used to paying her way. Presumably there’s money in aqua biking, then. Who knew?
4. Irina Vekselberg: $8 Billion
This may be a list of wealthy heiresses, but Irina Vekselberg is about as far from an it-girl Paris Hilton cliché as they come. Irina- daughter of Viktor Vekselberg who is ranked by Forbes as the fourth richest man in Russia- spends her time out of the limelight with a successful career in banking and investments. Her father, who began life as a civil servant, made his billions through investments in oil and gas upon the collapse of the Soviet union. He’s also the proud owner of Russia’s legendary Fabergé eggs which he purchased for an estimated £100 million in 2004. But don’t let this fool you: Neither Viktor nor his daughter Irina are the flashy type. While other heiresses passed their time shopping in luxury department stores, Vekselberg had her head in her books, earning a degree in science and applied maths from Babson College. She also holds an MBS from Yale and currently works in investment banking. Irina, along with her brother Alexander, will share their father’s fortune upon his death, but not the prized Fabergé eggs: instead these will instead be donated to the Russian public art collection.
3. Polina Deripaska: $11 Billion
Polina Deripaska has been part of the gilded world of Russia’s richest and most powerful from an early age. As the daughter of former President Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff, Deripaska obviously has friend in all the right places. This, however, is only the beginning of this billionaire’s prized connections. As the wife of aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska, Polina shares in his $11 billion fortune. She’s not a kept woman though; Deripaska took hold of the publishing wing of her husband’s growing empire and today chairs the Forward Media Group’s board. While this move was met with many an eye roll from those in business, Deripaska has let her entrepreneurial side show, generating $24 million profits for the media group in the process. Polina and her husband have a son, Peter, and divide their time between Moscow and London as any cosmopolitan oligarch would. Despite having it all (all of $11 billion, that is), life has not been without it’s challenges for the Deripaskas: Oleg’s aluminium empire was badly hit by the economic crisis and it’s estimated that his fortune plummeted from $28 billion to the more modest figure of $11 billion. Seems that even oligarchs aren’t immune to the turning of the tide.
2. Ekaterina Rybolovleva: $9.1 Billion
If you though that the $50 million asking price of Anna Anisimova’s apartment was excessive, then this will come as a shock: the spending habits of Ekaterina Ryblovleva will put any oligarch to shame. The daughter of Dmitry Rybolovlev, Ekaterina hit headlines in 2012 for the most expensive apartment purchase in New York history: Ryblobleva’s father purchased 15 Central Park West for $88 million, in his daughter’s name, so that she would have a place to stay when she was in the city. As a result of a bitter divorce case between her parents, Ekaterina- or Katya to her friends- has had a substantial trust fund set up in her name, to prevent her mother from accessing the family fortune. The down town apartment is nothing compared to Rybolovleva’s more recent real estate purchase. Katya bought the ultimate billionaire statement piece – her own private island. Last April, she paid a reported $153 million for the Greek island of Skorpios, which once belonged to shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. When not lounging about her multi-million dollar pads, Rybolovleva is said to be passionate about horse-riding and is studying at an undisclosed American university.
1. Victoria Mikhelson: $13.74 Billion
Well ahead of her heiress competitors, Victoria Mikhelson was last year named Russia’s wealthiest heiress by CEO magazine. Victoria is the daughter of Leonid Mikhelson who made his billions in the energy and gas industry in Russia. Mikhelson is currently Russia’s third richest man, and as an only child, Victoria is set to inherit the lot. That doesn’t mean Victoria will head the up her father’s empire on his death, though; Mikhelson Senior is vocally against nepotism and business dyansties. Rather, her father has suggested he would much prefer to see his daughter head up the company’s art foundation, VAC, which (of course!) stands for Victoria, the Art of being Contemporary. She’s currently an art history student at NYU, so Victoria’s father seems to have everything covered. In an interview with the Financial Times, the head of Novatek discussed how he encouraged his daughter’s love of art from an early age, although initially she did not share his enthusiasm. Presumably, that has changed! Either way, in the Mikhelson household, the multi-billionaire father clearly knows best.
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