American celebrities churn up their fair share of scandal and gossip, but the billionaire oligarchs of Russia are in a league of their own when it comes to leading a larger-than-life existence.In a new article in the Wall Street Journal, writer Lara Vapynar tries to understand the intrigue of the oligarchs, many of whom found themselves rich behind their wildest dreams after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
So what is it about the Russian tycoons that lead them to break out in a brawl on live TV, own a yacht that’s too massive to park on the French Riviera, or buy a sports team as a symbol of wealth and power?
Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire tycoon who scooped up the New Jersey Nets a few years back, claims to have the answer.
According to the WSJ:
He alludes to the famous mysteriousness of the Russian soul. After his Courchevel scandal [in which he was arrested after hiring prostitutes for a party], Mr. Prokhorov was outraged at the French authorities. He was just trying to throw a good party!
Mr. Prokhorov later complained in an interview that the French were hypocrites, that they claimed to admire the great Russian culture (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Dyagilev and such) but refused to view the lifestyle of contemporary Russians (he meant contemporary tycoons like him) as part of that great culture, or as a manifestation of that “mysterious Russian soul.”
The “mysterious Russian soul”–maybe it’s not a sound explanation for the out-of-control habits of Russia’s wealthiest, but it’s definitely got us intrigued.
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.