Roman Abramovich recently threw an $8 million New Year’s Eve party. He once dropped $86 million on a Francis Bacon painting. And he owns a $90 million vacation home in St. Bart’s. That’s in addition to his chateau on the French Riviera, his 540-ft. yacht with two helipads, and England’s Chelsea Football Club, which he purchased in 2003. So when the Russian oligarch entered a London court earlier this week wearing a $140 wristwatch rather than a Rolex, it was only natural the British media wondered aloud if the former rubber duck salesman was watching his roubles.
He just might be. Over the past four months Abramovich has endured a relentless assault on his character and his lifestyle as the defendant in a $6 billion lawsuit launched by his erstwhile mentor Boris Berezovsky. Berezovsky—whose influence in Russia rose under Boris Yeltsin and waned under Vladimir Putin—has accused Abramovich of intimidating him into selling his stake in the oil firm Sibneft at a bargain-barrel price, resulting in a multi-billion dollar trading loss. It’s estimated that the two men have spent more than $150 million on court costs thus far.
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