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Russian billionaire buys most expensive apartment in NYC

Elise Knutsen The New York Observer 12/19/2011 19:56
Dmitry Rybolovlev

Dmitry Rybolovlev

Dmitry Rybolovlev has been a busy man lately. He is in the middle of a bitter divorce that could cost him more than $6 billion (when finalized it will be the world’s costliest divorce), but he has still found the time and funds to buy a struggling AS Monaco soccer team and, it turns out, the most expensive home in the history of Manhattan real estate. Well-connected sources have confirmed to The Observer that the mystery Russian chemist behind the sale of Sandy Weill’s $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West is indeed Mr. Rybolovlev.

The flaxen-haired Russian originally trained in medicine but began buying industrial concerns in the early 1990s during Russia’s wildly unregulated privatization period. Ultimately running one of the country’s largest potash fertilizer concerns, Uralkali, Mr. Rybolovev began to establish his formidable fortune. In 1996 he was accused of murdering a fellow businessman and spent close to a year in prison.

Ultimately acquitted for lack of evidence, Mr. Rybolovlev went on to quietly corner the potassium fertilizer market in Russia, raking in bundles of rubles for his efforts. As of March this year, Mr. Rybolovlev was the 93rd richest person in the world with a net worth around $9.5 billion. Were he to move in full-time, that would make him the fifth richest New Yorker, behind David Koch, Mayor Bloomberg, John Paulson and Ronald Perlman. Should his basketball-loving comrade Mikhail Prokhorov finally buy a place here, that would knock Mr. Rybolovlev down to sixth place.