The Minigarch Next Door

By Dana, Rebecca | Newsweek, January 23, 2012 | Go to article overview
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The Minigarch Next Door


Dana, Rebecca, Newsweek


Byline: Rebecca Dana

A 22-year-old just bought Manhattan's priciest pad. Meet the Russians taking America by storm.

Say what you will about Ekaterina Rybolovleva, if you can say anything at all. At least the woman knows how to make an entrance.

A few weeks ago, the 22-year-old Russian equestrienne announced her presence on these shores by dropping $88 million on former Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill's Central Park West penthouse, which boasts an art gallery, two wood fireplaces, and a bedroom that looks like a concert hall. The sale set a record for Manhattan real estate and is likely to make the blonde, sylphlike Rybolovleva an object of envy within the Russian oligarchy: the first weekend the Weill apartment was open for view, eight clients went to look, six of them Russian. The most coveted piece of real estate in the Caucasus, it turns out, is on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Mild-mannered "Katia," by all accounts much more demure than many of her fellow "minigarchs," is just the latest Russian billionaire to land in New York. Though the new pad is hers, the man footing the bill is almost certainly her father, Dmitry, the fertilizer king of Moscow. Dmitry is your average Russian oligarch, in the mold of New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and cavorting yachtsman Roman Abramovich--businessmen who swiftly made their fortunes after the fall of the Soviet Union. With oil, metal, potash fertilizer, and frozen-juice empires, oligarchs have spent hundreds of millions on homes, boats, artwork, diamonds, birthday-party performances by middling American pop stars, and, of course, on their greatest love: their children. Katia already shuttles among residences in Switzerland, Monaco, and an undisclosed U.S. university. When she alights in New York, she will join a growing sorority of Russian billionairesses who call the city their third or fourth home.

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