For sale: humble home of Roman and the original Mrs Abramovich

 

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The Independent Online

If you have always wanted to get your hands on a bit of property fit for an oligarch, now's your chance. A former residence of Roman Abramovich is on the market. But it's not the tycoon's sprawling Colorado home up for grabs or his vast London mansion.

Instead, it's a poky studio apartment in Moscow.

The 40-square-metre flat has been put on the market by Olga Abramovich, the billionaire's first wife, and it was home to the couple during their married years, when the Soviet Union was collapsing and the future Chelsea owner was a hustling market trader trying to make ends meet. According to an unauthorised biography of Mr Abramovich, it was in this apartment that the billionaire uttered the words: "One day I'm going to buy the whole world."

At the time, Mr Abramovich was selling plastic toys in the market and the apartment only had two rickety chairs. If the couple had guests they had to sit on boxes and friends found the delusions of grandeur amusing. One of them told him that he should concentrate on buying a second pair of trousers instead. Mr Abramovich, of course, had the last laugh, going on to become the richest man in Russia and earning renown for his extravagant purchases on art, yachts and properties across the globe, not to mention a certain west London football club.

But while Mr Abramovich has long moved on from such humble dwellings, his first wife kept hold of their old apartment. Its furnishings are believed to be similar to what they were when she lived there with Mr Abramovich. Ms Abramovich has claimed in past interviews that the flat, in a Soviet-era block in the Tsvetnoi Boulevard area of central Moscow, was all she got out of her divorce from the man who would go on to become the richest Russian.

Sotheby's International Realty, the property agency handling the sale, refused to comment on the price of the property. But its spokeswoman, Olga Grigorenko, said that the asking price was around twice the going market rate for similar apartments in the area. The agency is hoping that the flat will attract budding businessmen who want to repeat Mr Abramovich's success and think that living under the same roof might bring them a fortune, too.

Without a previous oligarch as a tenant, this sort of flat would normally fetch between £200,000 and £400,000, depending on its state of repair, other Moscow estate agents said.

Mr Abramovich and Olga were married for about two years in the late 1980s. When the couple separated – with Olga receiving only the flat – the future oligarch remarried, to Irina Abramovich, an Aeroflot stewardess. The second Ms Abramovich fared better than the first when they split in 2007, receiving a reported £200m in a divorce settlement. Mr Abramovich is now dating 29-year-old Daria Zhukova, who runs an art gallery in Moscow.

Olga Abramovich was not available for comment yesterday. John Mann, Mr Abramovich's spokesman in Moscow, declined to comment on the sale.

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