Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, whose parents were both doctors, attended medical school before developing a business that offered alternative medical treatments. He then started an investment fund, which eventually led him to gain a controlling interest in Uralkali, Russia’s largest producer of potassium fertilizer. (Rybolovlev sold his stakes in Uralkali for about $6.5 billion in 2010 and 2011.)
In addition to his wide-ranging business activities, Rybolovlev is an avid art collector whose holdings include works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Mark Rothko, among many others. His purchases have not been without problems—he was involved in a long-running legal battle with the Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier, whom he accused of defrauding him by selling artworks at prices well above market value; for some 38 artworks he claimed to have overpaid $1 billion. One of the works in question was Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, which Rybolovlev famously sold in 2017 at Christie’s in New York for $450.3 million, the most ever paid for an artwork at auction.
In July 2020, Monaco’s Court of Revision upheld a lower court’s ruling dismissing criminal charges against Bouvier, citing “the investigations had been conducted in a biased and unfair manner under conditions which seriously and lastingly compromised the balance between the parties.” Though Bouvier declared it “a total and definitive victory” at the time, Rybolovlev’s lawyers, according to the New York Times, countered “This outcome has come about for purely procedural reasons and not because of an absence of evidence against Yves Bouvier.” Rybolovlev then took the case to Geneva, where a court there ruled against him in September 2021, saying that the case had been resolved in Monaco. In July 2022, the Geneva court overturned its previous ruling on appeal, writing, “At this stage, the thesis put forward by the plaintiff is plausible.”
There is a separate ongoing investigation of corruption against Rybolovlev into whether he allegedly used his influence—including tickets to the storied soccer team AS Monaco FC, which he owns—to sway Monaco law enforcement officials toward his side.
Rybolovlev is also well-known for his portfolio of expensive properties, including two chalets in Gstaad, Switzerland, for which he paid a reported $130 million apiece, and a Palm Beach mansion formerly owned by Donald Trump, which he snapped up for $95 million. Then there are two Greek islands, formerly belonging to Athina Onassis, for $150 million, and a New York City penthouse for $88 million—the most ever paid for an apartment in New York at the time he acquired it, in 2011.