A SPLIT between a Russian billionaire and darling of the art world was never going to involve small change.
But Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich and his wife, gallerist and fashion editor Dasha Zhukova, are set to raise eyebrows with a settlement that could involve billions after announcing their split.
In a joint statement on Monday, Abramovich and Zhukova said they had separated after a decade together.
“After 10 years together, the two of us have made the difficult decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents, and partners in the projects we developed together,” they said.
“We are committed to jointly raising our two children. We will also continue to work together as co-founders of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and the New Holland Island cultural centre in Saint Petersburg.”
Abramovich is estimated to be worth $11.5 billion and is famous for his high-profile assets including Chelsea Football Club and a string of luxury properties, cars and yachts.
He’s reportedly dropped more than $1.5 billion on “toys and homes” including ones in the Caribbean, Colorado and the South of France. He’s also renowned for hosting lavish parties where the likes of Beyonce and Gwen Stefani would perform, or dropping $50,000 on restaurant bills in New York City.
Zhukova, 36, is no stranger to the high life herself. The daughter of a Russian oligarch Alexander Zhukov, who has made a small fortune in oil, metals and banking, she has been lauded by the New York fashion and arts scene for her daring projects.
She previously ran her own label and edited magazine POP before launching her own project with a picture of a woman’s vagina covered with a Damien Hirst tattoo on the cover.
Abramovich and Zhukova married in secret nine years ago and have two children together.
No details of the settlement have been released.
The split could be costly enterprise for Abramovich as Zhukova is his third wife. He previously divorced Irina Malandina in 2007 after a 16-year marriage. They have five children together.
The settlement was reported to include $1.65 billion in cash and four homes in what was described at the time as the “world’s costliest divorce”.
The “quickie” agreement was never made public due to Russia’s secretive court system but it’s believed to have been sparked after Irina saw pictures of Abramovic with Zhukova who was 24 at the time.
Abramovich’s first marriage was from 1987 to 1991 with Olga Lysova.
Abramovich’s biographer Chris Hutchins said at the time he divorced Irina Malandina that the billionaire was told by close friend Russian President Putin to “get his act cleaned up”.
“Putin is a real family man and did not approve of Roman’s relationship with Daria or the publicity it has generated,” Hutchins said.
“He sees Abramovich as something of an ambassador for Russia and made it clear Abramovich should settle his personal affairs.
“Abramovich tends to do what Putin tells him, in business and in his personal life, and Putin’s intervention would certainly have influenced his decision to grant his wife an uncontested divorce.”
The news comes after the whopping $9 billion divorce battle between Petra Eccleston — the heir to Formula One mogul Bernie Eccleston’s fortune — and James Stunt.
The ugly parting between the pair played out in court with claims of drug abuse, foul language and having to “slum it” in a $42 million townhouse made public.