Roman Abramovich is an Israeli-Russian billionaire, best known around the world for previously owning Chelsea Football Club. Abramovich is the primary owner of the private investment company Millhouse and was once the richest person in Russia. While his net worth has come down after Western sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he is still estimated to be worth around $11 billion.

Let’s dive into his career and net worth, exploring his life story to see what insights we can learn from the oftentimes controversial Russian oligarch.

Roman Abramovich Net Worth Breakdown:

Since most of Abramovich’s assets are held privately and not through a publicly traded company, calculating his exact net worth is impossible – without his input, of course. Eastern European oligarchs are rather famous for their financial schemery used to conceal, move, and spend their massive fortunes, making it even more difficult. It also doesn’t help that many of his assets are now frozen by governments around the world and so are illiquid.

To make things complicated, he has either sold some of these assets to evade sanctions or transferred their ownership to family members or charitable trusts. Some of these assets might not even be known to the public to evade sanctions.

However, we have been able to collect plenty of public information surrounding his various sources of income, investments, assets, and business ventures to build a holistic estimate, which we break down here for you.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Listed company stakes $1 billion
Investments through other funds $6 billion
Real estate $1 billion
Cars, private jets, yachts, etc. $2 billion
Art collection $1 billion
Investments in Chelsea FC -$2.74 billion
Total Net Worth $11 billion

Roman Abramovich Net Worth: Early Life

Roman Abramovich was born Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich on 24 October 1966 in Saratov, the Soviet Union, in present-day Russia. His father Aaron Abramovich Leibovich was of Jewish descent and died when Roman was only three years old. His mother Irina had previously died of blood poisoning when Abramovich was only one.

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Orphaned before he turned four, Abramovich was raised by relatives. He spent time in Komi in north-west Russia, where temperatures can plummet. While Abramovich faced a lot of financial troubles in childhood, he doesn’t have any hard feelings looking back.

In an interview with the Guardian in 2006, he said, “To tell the truth, I cannot call my childhood bad. In your childhood you can’t compare things: one eats carrots, one eats candy, both taste good. As a child you cannot tell the difference.”

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Abramovich left school when he was only 16 to work as a mechanic, and briefly joined the Soviet army. He then started selling plastic toys and famously sold rubber ducks from his Moscow apartment.

The 1980s were the period when the erstwhile Soviet Union was reforming its economy under the principles of Glasnost (meaning government transparency) and Perestroika (meaning restructuring of the government and economy) and Abramovich was among those who capitalized on the opportunity. He started selling perfumes and deodorants, the initial capital coming from the 2,000 roubles wedding present that his first wife Olga’s parents gave him in 1987.

Roman Abramovich’s Net Worth: Life After the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991 and while the event was catastrophic for the region, to begin with, it turned out to be a massive opportunity for many – including the likes of Roman Abramovich. As Russia started moving away from a state-controlled to a market economy, the country’s leadership started selling off several Russian state-owned assets, primarily in the energy and minerals sector.

The men who were able to purchase these assets at fire sale prices are often called oligarchs, though they don’t necessarily have a ton of political power beyond the money to bribe officials. Abramovich, on the other hand, has an excess of political power in Russia on top of his massive fortune.

In 1993, Abramovich met Boris Berezovsky who was a Kremlin insider. Berezovsky and Abramovich bought a controlling interest in Siberian oil giant Sibneft in 1995 for a mere $250 million when Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin went on an overdrive to raise funds.

The auction was largely regarded as rigged (because it was). His business partner, Boris Berezovsky, said in a UK court that Abramovich gave him $10 million to bribe a politician to rig the auction in his favor. This would turn out to be one of the best investments (if you could call it that) ever made as Abramovich sold the company back to the Russian government for a staggering $13 billion, netting a $12.740 billion profit, including the bribe.

His stake in the sale made up the bulk of Abramovich’s net worth which he later invested elsewhere.

In 2019, Abramovich trimmed stake in Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel in a $551 million deal. The stake was bought by both Britain and Russia-based investors. Despite selling shares, Abramovich owns stakes in Norilsk Nickel as well as Russian steel producer Evraz.

Abramovich also purchased stakes in a precious metals mining company named Highland Gold, and RusAl, a Russian aluminum giant. In 2000, Abramovich sold his over 40% stake in Highland Gold, among the top 10 gold producers in Russia, to Fortiana, a Cyprus-registered company of Russian businessman Vladislav Sviblov. The deal valued the company at $1.4 billion and came amid the rally in gold prices that year.

In 2004 he completed the sale of RusAI to a company named Basic Element, that was owned by a fellow Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The sale marked Abramovich’s exit from the aluminum business.

Abramovich used Berezovsky’s influence to expand his business empire exponentially. However, the two later fell out. Berezovsky filed a $6 billion lawsuit against Abramovich but he successfully defended the case.

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The English high court judgment of Lady Justice Gloster provides us crucial insights into how Abramovich grew his business with help from Berezovsky. She noted in her judgement:

Berezovsky certainly accepted the business reality of the need for influence; he said repeatedly in his witness statements that, without his political influence over President Yeltsin, Mr. Abramovich would have got nowhere in the world of Russian business and would certainly not have acquired control of Sibneft

Roman Abramovich Net Worth: Startup Stakes

While Abramovich made his initial wealth through commodity companies, he subsequently branched out to tech companies, especially in the startup space. Abramovich has invested in many startups through Innes Worldwide Holdings Limited, his offshore firm based in the British Virgin Islands.

The tax haven doesn’t require companies to publicly disclose their beneficial ownership and Abramovich, like many other billionaires, has used the route to invest his money. Here are some of the companies where he has put his money:

  • LoopMe: A London-based startup that uses AI to improve the advertising performance of brands. Innes owned an 8.13% stake in LoopMe until late 2021 but in January 2022, Mayfair Equity Partners bought most of the stake leaving Innes with less than half a percent.
  • Locomizer: Another adtech company that was also part of Abrahamowich’s empire. Regulatory filings from June 2022 show that Innes owns a 17% stake in the London-based company.
  • HomeShift: A startup building tools to help users better manage their bills. Filings from March 2022 showed that Innes owned a 16.1% stake in the company.

In addition, his fund has invested in at least seven companies that received government contracts in the US and UK and founders of some of these had no idea that Abramovich had invested in their companies. These companies include:

  • Kiana Analytics
  • Cellphire
  • Exabyte
  • Weeding Technologies
  • Zipline International
  • Insephro
  • Ambulnz

Abramovich invested only a few million dollars collectively in these seven companies (as far as we know), a tiny fraction of his sprawling net worth. However, the fact that these companies got contracts from Western governments, including after Abramovich was sanctioned, did raise eyebrows.

In addition, Abramovich used two other investment vehicles – Ervington Investments and Norma Investments – to invest in companies. However, in February 2022, he transferred control of these funds to business partner David Davidovich, who is also facing sanctions from the UK government.

Roman Abramovich’s Political Career

Alongside his business interests, Abromavich has been involved in Russian politics for years, even reportedly helping put current President Putin in his position.

Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin

Abramovich was among the early supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He recommended Putin’s name to Boris Yeltsin when the ailing Russian President was looking for his successor in 1999.

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Berezovsky alleged that Abramovich was a big player in Russian politics and even selected the members of Putin’s cabinet. Based on Berezovsky’s allegations, the Guardian reported that Abramovich had the power to open and shut criminal cases and to initiate investigations and arrests in Russia. He was said to be a big Kremlin player, albeit one who operated behind the scenes (like most Russian oligarchs).

Membership of the Duma and Governorship

In 1999, Abramovich was elected to the State Duma as the representative for the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, an improvised territory in the far east of Russia.

He was elected governor of Chukotka in December 2000 and held that position until 2008. Under his tenure, the region progressed well and its quality of life was reported to have improved greatly. Abramovich reportedly spent $2.5 billion of his personal wealth on developing the region, including housing and educational facilities.

His first attempt to quit as the governor was declined but his second request was accepted by then-President, Putin-backed Dmitri Medvedev

Abramovich’s spokesman, John Mann, told the Guardian, “When Mr Abramovich came to Chukotka the region was in serious crisis. In the past seven years, he’s succeeded not only in pulling it out of crisis but significantly boosting the standard of living.”

He also emphasized that Abramovich would continue to support the area even after quitting and the governor and added “Millhouse [Abramovich’s investment company] is investing in several projects there as well as two charities.”

Roman Abramovich’s Ownership of Chelsea Football Club

Roman Abramovich is perhaps best known in the West for his purchase of the famous Chelsea football club in 2003 for around $177 million. According to the Bleacher Report, the Russian billionaire spent £2 billion (roughly $2.46 billion) on player signings and another £90 million (roughly $111.11 million) on managers as he helped transform Chelsea FC into one of the most successful and valuable soccer teams.

Under his ownership and with his investment, the club won:

  • The English Premier League five times
  • The UEFA Champions League twice
  • The FA Cup five times
  • The League Cup three times

However, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Abramovich’s ownership of Chelsea became untenable and the UK government forced him into selling the team.

He was accused of “preferential treatment and concessions from Putin and the Government of Russia”. Additionally, Evraz PLC, where he was a major shareholder, was accused of supplying steel to the Russian military, which “may have been used in the production of tanks” used in the Ukraine invasion.

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Abramovich transferred the ownership of Chelsea football club to a charitable organization. An investment group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital eventually acquired the team for $3.2 billion – the highest price for an EPL team ever paid.

However, the money did not go to Abramovich and was instead transferred to a foundation supporting Ukrainian war victims. The funds are yet to be dispersed.

As part of the deal, Boehly and Clearlake Capital agreed to invest another $2.2 billion to develop the team and its infrastructure.

In his statement to Chelsea FC, Abramovich said, “In the current situation, I have … taken the decision to sell the Club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the Club, the fans, the employees, as well as the Club’s sponsors and partners.”

It was a financial loss for the former owner of Chelsea FC as he got no money from the multi-billion dollar deal.

Roman Abramovich Net Worth: Sanctions Take Their Toll

Abramovich’s proximity with Vladimir Putin worked to his detriment, and he was sanctioned by the US, UK, and EU governments after Western countries retaliated against Putin’s proxies for his invasion of Ukraine.

In its rationale for sanctioning Abramovich, the UK government said that he “is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin”. The UK government estimated his net worth at £9 billion (roughly $11.11 billion), making him the richest sanctioned oligarch.

Separately, on April 12, a Jersey Court also froze assets worth $9 billion linked to Abramovich and his family in an order formally known as a “saisie judiciaire”. These assets were either located in Jersey or owned by entities incorporated in Jersey.

The SEC is suing Concord Management, a small Westchester County, N.Y., firm, that managed $7.2 billion in hedge fund and private equity investments. Abramovich is its sole client. The SEC alleges that the fund’s owner Michael Matlin instructed the firm’s analysts to start liquidating the investments around the same time Russia invaded Ukraine.

Roman Abramovich’s fortune plummeted after the sanctions but he still has a multi-billion dollar net worth.

Roman Abramovich’s Personal Life

Roman Abramovich’s first wife was Olga Yurevna Lysova, who he divorced in 1990. He next married Irina Malandina whom he met on a flight to Germany in 1990 when she worked as an Aeroflot stewardess. The couple divorced in 2007, with divorce settlement coming in at $300 million, including the value of homes in Britain and Moscow, plus a yacht, and private plane.

Abramovich next married Dasha Zhukova in 2008. In 2017, the couple announced that they were separating and the divorce was finalized in 2018.
Currently, Abramovich is said to be dating TV star Alexandra Korendyuk who is half his age.

Roman Abramovich Net Worth: Other Assets and Investments

Roman Abramovich is known for his lavish lifestyle and has an enviable collection of cars, yachts, and planes.

Car Collection

Abramovich owns multiple luxury cars, including:

  • Aston Martin Vulcan
  • Aston Martin Valkyrie
  • Bugatti Divo
  • Bugatti Veyron
  • Porsche 911
  • Maserati MC12
  • Pagani Huayra
  • Ferrari FXX K
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Aircraft Collection

Abramovich has an equally impressive collection of private jets. His first aircraft was a Boeing business jet, a VIP modification of Boeing 737-7. His next purchase was a Boeing 767-33AER, nicknamed Bandit.

Abramovich subsequently purchased a Boeing 787 Dreamliner whose amenities include private bedrooms, a large dining room, and movie-theater-style viewing space. The aircraft has an open cabin concept and can carry up to 50 passengers through different seating configurations.

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Art Collection

Roman Abramovich’s art collection is estimated at almost $1 billion. According to Andrew Renton, the professor of curating at Goldsmiths, University of London, the collection is so large that “You could fill a museum with it”.

Renton was all praise for the collection and added, “It’s not the vulgar collection of a nouveau riche; it shows very good taste. If you have enough money, you can buy a piece of history.”

Yacht Collection

Abramovich owns 16 yachts and vessels. Leaked documents showed that these include eight small vessels to support the operations of Eclipse, the largest yacht in the world that includes two swimming pools. The yacht also has a submarine in case Abramovich needs to exit quickly and is valued at around $1 billion.

Roman Abramovich Net Worth: Real Estate Investments

Roman Abramovich owns properties across different cities. An investigation by the Guardian and other international news organizations along with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project showed that Abramovich and his relatives owned 53 luxury residential properties, commercial buildings, plots of land in central London.

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These include the nearly $185 million 15-bedroom mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens that was once the Russian embassy, later put up for sale.

His US properties include a 200-acre ranch in Aspen, Colorado, and an $89 million estate on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy.

He owns multiple properties in Israel, a country where he became a citizen in 2018. These include a mansion in the central Israeli city of Herzliya that he reportedly bought for $65 million in 2020, making it the country’s most expensive residential real estate transaction. He bought two other properties in Tel Aviv in 2015 and 2019, respectively, and owns a hotel in the city.

Abramovich owned a hotel in Cote d’Azur, France. The property was also once a favorite of the British Royal Family but was seized by France as part of the sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich took Portuguese citizenship in 2021 and bought a property in Quinta do Lago in the Algarve region of southern Portugal, valued at over $10 million.

Reportedly, Abramovich has also invested in cryptocurrencies along with other Russian billionaires. However, we don’t have credible information on which if any cryptocurrencies he owns, either on his own or through a proxy fund.

What Can We Learn from Roman Abramovich’s Life

There is a lot that we can learn from Abramovich’s life, including plenty of lessons on what not to do. Abramovich had a far-from-perfect childhood and was an orphan before he turned four. Not many people manage to become billionaires after experiencing such hardship early on.

With his perseverance, Abramovich has been able to create a massive fortune. He is also good at networking and managed to get into the inner Kremlin circle despite not having any real political background.

He used his influence to rig the bidding of state-owned assets, which is something that cannot be justified, especially because the scam hurt the Russian people. Yuri Skuratov, Russia’s former chief prosecutor, told the BBC that Abramovich used fraudulent means to gain control of Sibneft and Abramovich’s own partner agreed.

He said, “Basically, it was a fraudulent scheme, where those who took part in the privatization formed one criminal group that allowed Abramovich and Berezovsky to trick the government and not pay the money that this company was really worth.”

However, as Judge Gloster noted, that was the way business was done in Russia and the Soviet Union in those days. Things haven’t changed much in the country and it is tough to do business without political contacts.

Abramovich adapted well to the circumstances and while one may argue that he got rich through dubious means, he also used some of that wealth to develop the Chukotka region in Russia.

He also helped turn Chelsea Football Club into a force to be reckoned with on the international footballing stage, using very unconventional methods.

All said, his methodology to create wealth is not something we should aspire for. There are plenty of “rags to riches” stories where people became billionaires not through political connections but sheer hard work and perseverance.