A Russian tycoon has been sued by
his estranged wife over his $88 million purchase of a Manhattan
penthouse from former Citigroup Inc Chief Executive
Sanford "Sandy" Weill and his wife Joan.
Dmitry Rybolovlev, 45, worth an estimated $9 billion and the
world's 100th richest person according to Forbes magazine,
formed a sham entity to buy the apartment for his daughter
Ekaterina, solely to shield it from his wife Elena in divorce
proceedings, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in a New
York state court in Manhattan.
Elena Rybolovleva, also 45, said she had begun divorce
proceedings in Switzerland in 2008 after 21 years of marriage,
and that a Geneva court later imposed a freeze on some of her
Despite this, she said her husband has been using marital
property to buy a multitude of other assets through a variety of
trusts and limited liability companies, hoping to put those
assets beyond her reach.
Rybolovleva said these assets include majority ownership in
French football club AS Monaco, a $295 million stake in Bank of
Cyprus, and a $95 million Palm Beach, Florida home
purchased from another tycoon, Donald Trump.
"She wants her fair share," said David Newman, a partner at
Day Pitney in New York who represents Rybolovleva, in an
interview. "She hopes to get a substantial judgment in the Swiss
divorce, and if there are no assets or only a small amount of
assets from which to satisfy it, it's a Pyrrhic victory."
Rybolovlev made much of his fortune from the 2010 sale of
his stake in fertilizer company Uralkali for $6.5 billion.
Marc Salis, a lawyer who represented Rybolovlev on the
purchase of the home from the Weills, did not immediately
respond to a request for comment.
Rybolovleva is seeking a constructive trust over the
penthouse "to ensure that assets are available to satisfy any
monetary judgment" she may be awarded in Switzerland. She has
filed a similar lawsuit in Florida over the Palm Beach home.
The February 15 sale of the 6,744-square-foot penthouse at 15
Central Park West, a building designed by the architect Robert
A.M. Stern, has been described as the highest price ever paid
for a Manhattan apartment.
Newman said the divorce "doesn't appear" close to a
resolution. Referring to media reports that Ekaterina may be
attending school in New York, he said about the penthouse:
"Wouldn't you like to have that as your dorm?"
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