Saturday, September 30, 2006

New Russians

Secrets of the Moscow Millionaires' Club

Short article on the UK Independent about Lena Lenina's new book Multimillionaires. Apparently the book is based upon Ms. Lenina's time spent among the wealthy "New Russians". Everyone who has any familiarity with Russia or Russian friends has heard stories or jokes about the wealthy in Russia and how they spend their money. This book reportedly offers a few of the details of that lifestyle.
The author, Lena Lenina, says that any oligarch worth his caviar owns a minimum of seven cars, employs a staff of 16, owns a yacht at least 170ft in length, a private jet that costs a minimum of £19m, and maintains a deep slush fund for bribing government officials. One apparently confided to her that he had to bribe a circle of corrupt politicians with "more than 1,000 cars and several hundred flats".

An oligarch spends about £535 every day merely on keeping his favourite mistress in the style to which she is accustomed, according to Ms Lenina. She will be given a sports car (the Audi TT is apparently a favourite) and a £200,000 pied-à-terre in central Moscow. Second-string lovers do less well, having only £2,700 a month spent on them.

The writer argues that many of Russia's wealthy businessmen have lost their nouveau-riche tastes and become far more sophisticated. While what she calls "provincials" may still plump for a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati, Russia's urban rich prefer the anonymity of chauffeur-driven Mercedes, BMWs and Audis and spend an average of £425,000 a year on buying such vehicles. An oligarch's home, she says, is a display of raw wealth: his primary residence is a Moscow penthouse complete with a pool and winter garden and a price tag of up to £5m.
For those interested in such stories, perhaps there are more revealing details contained within the book. Otherwise, it sounds like more idol gossip regarding how extravagantly many wealthy Russians choose to spend their money.

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