Roman Abramovich: How Did the Chelsea Owner Make His Billions?

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Mar. 28 2022, Updated 4:32 p.m. ET

Russia has invaded Ukraine and Western countries have responded with sanctions. Both the U.S. and the U.K. have imposed sanctions against Russian banks and wealthy individuals, popularly known as oligarchs.

When talking about Russian oligarchs, it's hard to miss Roman Abramovich, who owns the Chelsea Football Club in the U.K.

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More recently, it was reported that Abramovich suffered a suspected poisoning attack after he attended peace negotiations in Kyiv in March 2022.

According to the investigative journalism group Bellingcat, Abramovich and other negotiators experienced "eye and skin inflammation and piercing pain in the eyes." However, he is said to be recovering.

So, what is Abramovich’s net worth, and will he be sanctioned amid the Russian-Ukrainian crisis?

Is Roman Abramovich facing sanctions?

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Abramovich is among the Russian oligarchs that the country is sanctioning. However, soon his spokesperson clarified that Abramovich isn't on the list of sanctioned individuals and that Johnson “misspoke.”

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However, that doesn't mean that Abramovich couldn't be sanctioned in the future given the evolving situation between Russia and Ukraine. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, “We have more individuals on our list, who we are ready to sanction.” She also said, “Nobody is off the table.”

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Speaking with Sky News, she said, “Viewers can be assured that we have more individuals that we will target in the event of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”

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What is Roman Abramovich’s net worth?

According to Bloomberg estimates, Abramovich has a net worth of around $15 billion. He's among the richest Russians but in 2021 he fell out from the list of the top 10 Russian billionaires.

Roman Abramovich

Owner Chelsea FC

Net worth: $15 billion

Roman Abramovich is a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin. His mother Irina Vasilievna Abramovich was a dance teacher while his father Aron Abramovich Leibovich was employed in the economic council of the Autonomous Republic of Komi.

Birthdate: October 24, 1966

Birthplace: Soviet Union

Spouse: Married and divorced three times

Children: 7

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Is Roman Abramovich related to Vladimir Putin?

Like most Russian billionaires, Abramovich also has a connection to Putin. Abramovich recommended Putin’s name to Boris Yeltsin when he was looking for a successor. The rest, as they say, is history.

Yeltsin first made Putin the country’s prime minister in 1999 and later in the year anointed him as his successor and the president of the country. Putin has since been governing the country in one form or another.

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Abramovich wrested a lot of power in Russia and reportedly selected the members of Putin’s cabinet when he was selected as the president in the 2000 elections. He was also the governor of Chukotka, which lies in Russia’s far east, from 2000–2008.

Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003.

Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003 and the club has won several trophies since his purchase. Many people have alleged that he purchased Chelsea on Putin’s instructions.

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How did Roman Abramovich make his money?

Abramovich had humble beginnings and started his career as a mechanic. Then, he got into the trading business selling toys. He set up and exited several businesses before meeting Boris Berezovsky, a Kremlin insider, in 1993. During that period, Russia was undergoing a lot of disruption after the fall of the Soviet Union, but the turmoil also created a lot of opportunities for profiteering.

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Abramovich and Berezovsky bought Siberian oil giant Sibneft at dirt cheap rates. The company’s valuation jumped multi-fold over the next decade and Abramovich made massive gains by selling the company to Gazprom in 2005. He also bought many energy and aluminum companies when Yeltsin was selling state assets. Later, the values of these companies rose way above what Abramovich had paid for them.

While Abramovich has sold some of these companies, he still holds stakes in steel producer Evraz and Nickel producer Norilsk Nickel.

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