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(37,305 posts)
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 12:51 PM Mar 2013

Next stop New York: wealthy Russians hurry money from Cyprus to US

On the west side of Manhattan, a strange sight greets the tourists and natives who happen to be walking, running or cycling by Pier 90. Pearly and serene amid the beeping and bustle of highway traffic, a 536ft, bulletproof yacht called the Eclipse has been anchored in the freezing water of the Hudson for over a month. It is the world's largest yacht, owned by Roman Abramovich, a secretive Russian oligarch whose net worth, at Forbes' last count, was about $10.2bn.

It's no coincidence that Abramovich's glistening ship is anchored in New York. The city has been a haven for wealthy Russians for at least three years, as oligarchs and demi-oligarchs moored their money far away from the political whims of Vladimir Putin or the growing fiscal fiasco of the eurozone. "In Russia, whether you're friendly with the government is a very important thing, and that changes like the wind changes," said David Newman, a partner with Day Pitney who has represented the ex-wife of former potash magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev in a prominent divorce case. Evidence of Russian wealth has been everywhere.

"They have boats, they have cars; you go buy a plane for $40m, it's not a big deal any more," said Newman. Rybolovlev's 2012 acquisition of an $88m Central Park apartment once owned by Citigroup chief Sandy Weill still stands as one of the biggest real estate deals in New York history, and a soaring example of Russian influence and ostentation in high-end New York real estate. "How many Maybachs can you have, how many Maseratis can you have?" Newman recently learned of an extravagantly priced crocodile-skin T-shirt for sale. "I thought right away, 'there's going to be a Russian at Hermes buying that $100,000 t-shirt."

The shirt is still sitting in the Hermes store. As Newman notes, Russians have sought assets that stick around a little longer. The wealthiest Russians knew months ago that the Cypriot economy was failing and hurried their money out into other investments.


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