Billionaire island-owner Dmitry Rybolovlev has found himself embroiled in the world’s most expensive divorce – will Skorpios have a part to play in the settlement?
A gripping six-year saga finally reached its dramatic conclusion earlier this week, as Dmitry Rybolovlev, the billionaire owner of Skorpios Island and Monaco Football Club, was forced to hand over an estimated GBP 2.68 billion to his (now ex-)wife, Elena Rybolobleva. The verdict forms the most expensive public divorce settlement of all time.
The so-called “fertilizer king”, who amassed the lion’s share his wealth through investing in potash mining during the break-up of the Soviet Union, was widely reported to have been involved in the purchase of Aristotle Onassis’ iconic private island Skorpios in a USD 100 million leasehold deal that took the private island market by surprise.
Entangled in the divorce proceedings even during the purchase of Skorpios, Rybolovlev and his estranged ex-wife have been fighting in the courts and in the media since their anything but amicable split back in 2009, with wealthy Russian stood accused – amongst other things – of taking part in a string of extra-marital affairs.
Demonstrating stereotypically Swiss accuracy, the three Geneva-based judges presiding over the case handed Rybolovlev a bill for CHF 4,020,555,987 and 20 cents – an amount that equates to exactly half of Russian oligarch’s official fortune and which smashes the previous record – held by art heir Alec Wildenstein – by almost a billion pounds.
As well as his alleged infidelities, Mr. Rybolovlev also stood accused of using marital property to buy a multitude of secret properties and assets, all under the guise of an international network of trust funds and corporations. It was suggested that Rybolovlev intended to syphon his wealth well out of his wife’s reach through this chicanery.
One of the assets in question was the leasehold of Skorpios Island, purchased – as reported by Private Island News – acquired for an estimated USD 100 million by a mystery corporation and quickly transferred into a trust fund set up under the name of his eldest daughter, the socialite and celebrated equestrian, Ekaterina Rybolovleva.
Forming part of an impressive portfolio that also consists of Donald Trump’s former Palm Beach villa and a USD 88 million dollar New York penthouse (America’s most expensive private property), it is as yet unclear whether the leasehold of Skorpios or indeed any other of these properties will be affected by the divorce settlement, however.
The head of Mr. Rybolovlev’s legal team certainly doesn’t think so, praising the court ruling in a statement published within Britain’s Daily Mail for “confirming both the validity of the trusts created by Mr. Rybolovlev and the validity of the asset transfer to them that occurred long before his wife initiated divorce proceedings.”
The statement formed a marked contrast to that of Ms. Rybolovleva’s lawyer, Marc Bonnant, who argued that Monday’s ruling demonstrated that “no-one – not even a Russian tycoon who put his fabulous fortune into legal structures such as trusts and offshore companies – is above the law.”
Set to go to appeal during the next months, it seems the battle for Rybolovlev’s billions is far from over, however. Only time will tell whether another world record is broken during these dramatic divorce proceedings – will Skorpios become the most expensive division of property of all time? Stay tuned to Private Island News to find out more.
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