Roman Abramovich facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Abramovich in 2021
|Governor of Chukotka AO|
17 December 2000 – 3 July 2008
|Preceded by||Aleksandr Nazarov|
|Succeeded by||Roman Kopin|
|Member of the State Duma from Chukotka constituency|
10 January 2000 – 17 December 2000
|Preceded by||Vladimir Babichev|
|Succeeded by||Vladimir Yetylin|
Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich
24 October 1966
Saratov, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
(present-day Saratov, Russia)
(m. 1987; div. 1990)
(m. 1991; div. 2007)
(m. 2008; div. 2018)
|Children||7, including Arkadiy Abramovich|
|Education||Moscow State Law University
Russian State University of Oil and Gas
Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich (Russian: Роман Аркадьевич Абрамович, pronounced [rɐˈman ɐrˈkadʲjɪvʲɪtɕ ɐbrɐˈmovʲɪtɕ]; Hebrew: רומן ארקדיביץ' אברמוביץ'; born 24 October 1966) is a Russian oligarch and politician. He is the former owner of Chelsea, a Premier League football club in London, England, and is the primary owner of the private investment company Millhouse LLC. He has Russian, Israeli and Portuguese citizenship.
He was formerly Governor of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug from 2000 to 2008. According to Forbes, Abramovich's net worth was US$14.5 billion in 2021, making him the second-richest person in Israel, the eleventh-richest in Russia and the richest person in Portugal.
Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich was born on 24 October 1966 in Saratov, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union (present-day Saratov, Russia). His family was of Jewish descent and died when he was young. His mother, Irina, was a music teacher who died when Abramovich was one years old. His father, Aaron Abramovich Leibovich (1937−1969), worked in the economic council of the Komi ASSR, and passed away when he was three. Roman's maternal grandparents were Vasily Mikhailenko and Faina Borisovna Grutman, both born in Ukraine. It was to Saratov in the early days of World War II that Roman's maternal grandmother fled from Ukraine. Irina was then three years old. Roman's paternal grandparents, Nachman Leibovich and Toybe (Tatyana) Stepanovna Abramovich, were Belarusian Jews. They lived in Belarus and, after the revolution, moved to Tauragė, Lithuania, with the Lithuanian spelling of the family name being Abramavičius.
In 1940, the Soviet Union (USSR) annexed Lithuania. Just before the Nazi German invasion of the USSR, the Soviets "cleared the anti-Soviet, criminal and socially dangerous element" with whole families being sent to Siberia. Abramovich's grandparents were separated when deported. The father, mother and children – Leib, Abram and Aron (Arkady) – were in different cars. Many of the deportees died in the camps. Among them was the grandfather of Abramovich. Nachman Leibovich died in 1942 in the NKVD camp in the settlement of Resheti, Krasnoyarsk Territory.
Having lost both parents before the age of 4, Abramovich was raised by relatives and spent much of his youth in the Komi Republic in northern Russia. Abramovich is the Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, and a trustee of the Moscow Jewish Museum. Abramovich decided to establish a forest of some 25,000 new and rehabilitated trees, in memory of Lithuania's Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, plus a virtual memorial and tribute to Lithuanian Jewry (Seed a Memory) enabling people from all over the world to commemorate their ancestors' personal stories by naming a tree and including their name in the memorial.
Abramovich entered the business world during his army service. He first worked as a street-trader, and then as a mechanic at a local factory. Abramovich attended the Gubkin Institute of Oil and Gas in Moscow, then traded commodities for the Swiss trading firm Runicom.
In 1988, as perestroika created opportunities for privatization in the Soviet Union, Abramovich gained a chance to legitimise his old business. He and his first wife, Olga, set up a company making dolls. Within a few years his wealth spread from oil conglomerates to pig farms. He has traded in timber, sugar, food stuffs and other products. In 1992, he was arrested and sent to prison in a case of theft of government property.
In 1995, Abramovich and Berezovsky acquired a controlling interest in the large oil company Sibneft in a rigged auction. The deal took place within the controversial loans-for-shares program and each partner paid US$100 million for half of the company, above the stake's stock market value of US$150 million at the time, and rapidly turned it up into billions. The fast-rising value of the company led many observers, in hindsight, to suggest that the real cost of the company should have been in the billions of dollars (it was worth US$2.7 billion at that time). Abramovich later admitted in court that he paid billions of dollars of bribes to government officials and gangsters to acquire and protect his assets. As of 2000, Sibneft annually produced US$3 billion worth of oil.
Abramovich sold Sibneft to the Russian government for $13 billion in 2005.
In 2015, Abramovich invested and led a $30 million round of funding with businessman OD Kobo Chairman of PIR Equities. Other partners include several well-known people from the music industry, among them David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Tiësto, Avicii, will.i.am, Benny Andersson, Dave Holmes (manager of Coldplay) and others.
Also StoreDot, founded by Doron Myersdorf, where Abramovich has invested over $30 million.
Chelsea Football Club
In June 2003, Abramovich became the owner of the companies that control Chelsea in West London. The previous owner of the club was Ken Bates, who later bought rivals Leeds United. Chelsea immediately embarked on an ambitious programme of commercial development, with the aim of making it a worldwide brand at par with footballing dynasties such as Manchester United and Real Madrid, and also announced plans to build a new state-of-the-art training complex in Cobham, Surrey.
Since the takeover, the club has won 18 major trophies – the UEFA Champions League twice, the UEFA Europa League twice, the UEFA Supercup twice, the Premier League five times, the FA Cup five times (with 2010 providing the club's first ever league and FA Cup double), and the League Cup three times, making Chelsea the most successful English trophy winning team during Abramovich's ownership, equal with Manchester United (who have also won 16 major trophies in the same time span). His tenure has also been marked by rapid turnover in managers. Detractors have used the term "Chelski" to refer to the new Chelsea under Abramovich, to highlight the modern phenomena of billionaires buying football clubs and "purchasing trophies", by using their personal wealth to snap up marquee players at will, distorting the transfer market, citing the acquisition of Andriy Shevchenko for a then-British record transfer fee of around £30 million (€35.3 million).
In the year ending June 2005, Chelsea posted record losses of £140 million (€165 million) and the club was not expected to record a trading profit before 2010, although this decreased to reported losses of £80.2 million (€94.3 million) in the year ending June 2006. In a December 2006 interview, Abramovich stated that he expected Chelsea's transfer spending to fall in the years to come. UEFA responded to the precarious profit/loss landscape of clubs, some owned by billionaires, but others simply financial juggernauts like Real Madrid, with Financial Fair Play regulations.
Chelsea finished their first season after the takeover in second place in the Premier League, up from fourth the previous year. They also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, which was eventually won by the surprise contender Porto, managed by José Mourinho. For Abramovich's second season at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho was recruited as the new manager, replacing the incumbent Claudio Ranieri. Chelsea ended the 2004–05 season as league champions for the first time in 50 years and only the second time in their history. Also high were Abramovich's spending regarding purchases of Portuguese football players. According to record newspaper accounts, he spent 165.1 million euros in Portugal: 90.9 with Benfica players, and 74.2 with FC Porto players.
Abramovich is present at nearly every Chelsea game and shows visible emotion during matches, a sign taken by supporters to indicate a genuine love for the sport, and usually visits the players in the dressing room following each match. This stopped for a time in early 2007, when press reports appeared of a feud between Abramovich and manager Mourinho regarding the performance of certain players such as Andriy Shevchenko. On 1 July 2013, Chelsea celebrated ten years under Abramovich's ownership. Before the first game of the 2013–14 season against Hull City on 18 August 2013, Abramovich thanked Chelsea supporters for ten years of support in a short message on the front cover of the match programme, saying, "We have had a great decade together and the club could not have achieved it all without you. Thanks for your support and here's to many more years of success."
In March 2017, Chelsea announced it had received approval for a revamped £500m stadium at Stamford Bridge with a capacity of up to 60,000. On 15 July 2018, the renewal of Abramovich's British visa by the Home Office, and his subsequent withdrawal of the application, in May 2018 Chelsea halted plans to build a £500m stadium in south-west London due to the "unfavourable investment climate" and the lack of assurances about Abramovich's immigration status. Abramovich was set to invest hundreds of millions of pounds for the construction of the stadium. Abramovich has been accused of purchasing Chelsea at the behest of Vladimir Putin, but he has denied the claim. Putin's People, a book by journalist Catherine Belton, a former Financial Times Moscow correspondent, formerly made such an assertion, but after libel action by Abramovich against Belton and the book's British publisher HarperCollins, the claims were agreed in December 2021 to be stated as having no factual basis in future editions.
In 2021, Abramovich was criticized for trying to enter Chelsea into the newly announced European Super League. The competition was widely scrutinized for encouraging greediness among the richer, larger football clubs, which would have undermined the significance of existing football competitions; however, just two days later, Abramovich pulled the club out of the new competition, with other English clubs following suit, causing the league to suspend operations. In 2022, it was reported that Abramovich was owed $2 billion from Chelsea F.C. According to Forbes, Abramovich's loan is insurance in case the British government considers sanctioning him due to his close relationship with the Putin regime in Russia. On 26 February 2022, during the Russo-Ukrainian War, Abramovich handed over "stewardship and care" of Chelsea FC to the Chelsea Charitable Foundation.
Abramovich released an official statement on 2 March 2022 confirming that he was selling the club due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Although the UK government froze Abramovich's assets in the United Kingdom on 10 March due to his "close ties with [the] Kremlin", it was made clear that the Chelsea club will be allowed to operate in terms of activities which are football related. On 12 March, the Premier League disqualified Abramovich as a director of Chelsea Football Club.
On 7 May 2022, Chelsea announced that a new ownership group led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital have agreed on the terms to acquire the club.
In March 2004, Sibneft agreed to a three-year sponsorship deal worth €41.3 million (US$58 million) with the Russian team CSKA Moscow. Although the company explained that the decision was made at management level, some viewed the deal as an attempt by Abramovich to counter accusations of being "unpatriotic" which were made at the time of the Chelsea purchase. UEFA rules prevent one person owning more than one team participating in UEFA competitions, so Abramovich has no equity interest in CSKA. A lawyer, Alexandre Garese, is one of his partners in CSKA.
Following an investigation, Abramovich was cleared by UEFA of having a conflict of interest. Nevertheless, he was named "most influential person in Russian football" in the Russian magazine Pro Sport at the end of June 2004. In May 2005, CSKA won the UEFA Cup, becoming the first Russian club ever to win a major European football competition. In October 2005, however, Abramovich sold his interest in Sibneft and the company's new owner Gazprom, which sponsors Zenit Saint Petersburg, cancelled the sponsorship deal.
Russian national team
Abramovich also played a large role in bringing Guus Hiddink to Russia to coach the Russia national football team. Piet de Visser, a former head scout of Hiddink's club PSV Eindhoven and now a personal assistant to Abramovich at Chelsea, recommended Hiddink to the Chelsea owner.
National Academy of Football
In addition to his involvement in professional football, Abramovich sponsors a foundation in Russia called the National Academy of Football. The organization sponsors youth sports programs throughout the country and has constructed more than fifty football pitches in various cities and towns. It also funds training programs for coaches, prints instruction materials, renovates sports facilities and takes top coaches and students on trips to visit professional football clubs in England, the Netherlands and Spain. In 2006 the Academy of Football took over the administration of the Konoplyov football academy at Primorsky, near Togliatti, Samara Oblast, where over 1,000 youths are in residence, following the death at 38 of its founder, Yuri Konoplev.
In 1999, Abramovich was elected to the State Duma as the representative for the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, an impoverished region in the Russian Far East. He started the charity Pole of Hope to help the people of Chukotka, especially children, and in December 2000, was elected governor of Chukotka, replacing Aleksandr Nazarov.
Abramovich was the governor of Chukotka from 2000 to 2008. It is believed that he invested over US$1.3 billion (€925 million) in the region. During his tenure, living standards improved, schools and housing were restored and new investors were drawn to the region. Abramovich was awarded the Order of Honour for his "huge contribution to the economic development of the autonomous district [of Chukotka]", by a decree signed by the President of Russia.
In early July 2008, it was announced that President Dmitry Medvedev had accepted Abramovich's request to resign as governor of Chukotka, although his various charitable activities in the region would continue. In the period 2000–2006 the average salaries in Chukotka increased from about US$165 (€117/£100) per month in 2000 to US$826 (€588/£500) per month in 2006.
Marriages and children
Abramovich has been married and divorced three times. In December 1987, following a brief stint in the Soviet Army, he married Olga Yurevna Lysova; they divorced in 1990. In October 1991, he married a former Russian Aeroflot stewardess, Irina Malandina. They have five children; Ilya, Arina, Sofia, Arkadiy and Anna. His eldest daughter Anna is a graduate of Columbia University and lives in New York City, and his daughter Sofia is a professional equestrian who lives in London after graduating from Royal Holloway, University of London.
On 15 October 2006, the News of the World reported that Irina had hired two top UK divorce lawyers, following reports of Abramovich's close relationship with the then 25-year-old Dasha Zhukova, daughter of a prominent Russian oligarch, Alexander Zhukov. The Abramoviches replied that neither had consulted attorneys at that point. However, they later divorced in Russia in March 2007, with a reported settlement of US$300 million (€213 million). Abramovich married Zhukova in 2008, and they have two children, a son, Aaron Alexander, and a daughter, Leah Lou. In August 2017, the couple announced that they would separate; and their divorce was finalised in 2018.
Citizenships and residency
In May 2018, Abramovich became an Israeli citizen a month after the UK delayed renewing his visa. Following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, British authorities delayed the renewal of his visa, as tensions rose between the UK and Russia. Abramovich had been travelling in and out of the UK for years on a Tier-1 investor visa, designed for wealthy foreigners who invest at least £2 million in Britain. Abramovich, who is Russian Jewish, exercised his right under Israel's Law of Return, which states that Jews from anywhere in the world can become citizens of Israel. As an Israeli, Abramovich can now visit Britain visa-free but is not permitted to work or conduct business transactions.
In April 2021, Abramovich became a Portuguese citizen as part of the country's Nationality Act.
According to Forbes, as of March 2016, Abramovich had a net worth of US$7.6 billion, ranking him as the 155th richest person in the world. Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, he was considered to be the second richest person living within the United Kingdom. Early in 2009, The Times estimated that due to the global economic crisis he had lost £3 billion from his £11.7 billion wealth. In the summer of 2020, Abramovich sold the gold miner Highland Gold to Vladislav Sviblov. On 5 March 2021, Forbes listed his net worth at US$14.5 billion, ranking him 113 on the Billionaires 2020 Forbes list.
|Year||The Sunday Times
The World's Billionaires
|Rank||Net worth (GB£)||Rank||Net worth (US$)|
|2011||3||£10.30 billion||53||$13.4 billion|
|2012||3||£9.50 billion||68||$12.1 billion|
|2013||5||£9.30 billion||107||$10.3 billion|
|2014||9||£8.42 billion||137||$9.10 billion|
|2015||10||£7.29 billion||137||$9.10 billion|
|2016||13||£6.40 billion||151||$7.60 billion|
|2017||13||£8.053 billion||139||$11.50 billion|
|2018||13||£9.333 billion||140||$11.70 billion|
|2019||9||£11.221 billion||107||$12.40 billion|
|2020||12||£10.156 billion||113||$11.30 billion|
|2021||8||£12.101 billion||142||$14.50 billion|
|Has not changed from the previous year|
|Has increased from the previous year|
|Has decreased from the previous year|
Abramovich has reportedly donated more money to charity than any other living Russian. Between 2009 and 2013, Abramovich donated more than US$2.5 billion to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure in Chukotka. Abramovich has reportedly spent approximately GB£1.5 bn on the Pole of Hope, his charity set up to help those in the Arctic region of Chukotka, where he was governor. In addition, Evraz Plc (EVR), the steelmaker partly owned by Abramovich, donated US$164 million for social projects between 2010 through 2012, an amount that is excluded in Abramovich's US$310 million donations during this period.
Abramovich was recognized by the Forum for Jewish Culture and Religion for his contribution of more than $500 million to Jewish causes in Russia, the US, Britain, Portugal, Lithuania, Israel and elsewhere over the past 20 years. In June 2019, Abramovich donated $5 million to the Jewish Agency for Israel, to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism globally.
Abramovich decided to establish a forest of some 25,000 trees, in memory of Lithuania's Jews who perished in the Holocaust, plus a virtual memorial and tribute to Lithuanian Jewry. He also gave a substantial donation for the rehabilitation of the Jewish cemetery of Altona, now a neighborhood in the city of Hamburg. The project is carried out by B'nai B'rith International Portugal in partnership with Hamburg's Chabad. Abramovich donates money to the Chabad movement and along with Michael Kadoorie and Jacob Safra, is one of the main benefactors of the Portuguese Jewish community and of B'nai B'rith International Portugal.
Abramovich funds an extended programme in Israel that brings Jewish and Arab children together in football coaching sessions. More than 1,000 Arab and Jewish children each year will be brought together through football, with Chelsea funding the expanded set-up and club staff training local coaches. The expanded Playing Fair, Leading Peace programme will break down barriers and combat discrimination by mixing communities in Israel. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Abramovich paid for NHS staff to stay at the Stamford Bridge Millennium Hotel.
Other interests and activities
Abramovich sponsored an exhibition of photographs of Uzbekistan by renowned Soviet photographer Max Penson (1893–1959) which opened on 29 November 2006 at the Gilbert Collection at Somerset House in London. He previously funded the exhibition "Quiet Resistance: Russian Pictorial Photography 1900s–1930s" at the same gallery in 2005. Both exhibits were organized by the Moscow House of Photography.
In May 2008, Abramovich emerged as a major buyer in the international art auction market. He purchased Francis Bacon's Triptych 1976 for €61.4 million (US$86.3 million) (a record price for a post-war work of art) and Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping for €23.9 million (US$33.6 million) (a record price for a work by a living artist).
His former wife Dasha Zhukova manages the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture – a gallery of contemporary art in Moscow that was initially housed in the historical Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage building by Konstantin Melnikov. The building, neglected for decades and partially taken apart by previous tenants, was restored in 2007–2008 and reopened to the public in September 2008. Speed and expense of restoration is credited to sponsorship by Abramovich.
In Spanish: Román Abramóvich para niños
- List of Jews in sports (non-players)
- List of Russian billionaires
- Russian oligarchs
- List of people and organizations sanctioned during the Russo-Ukrainian War
- List of Jews born in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union
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