THE ULTIMATE RUSSIAN STATUS SYMBOL: A Sports Team

russian sports owners

Among Russia’s ├╝ber-rich, it’s not enough to merely show off with a massive yacht or private Gulfstream jet.

The true indicator of wealth among Russia’s upper echelons is ownership of a sports team, be it an American basketball team, British football club, or hometown franchise.

Russian tycoons particularly value foreign sports teams since they may help build good press and goodwill among the local population in case they need to see asylum down the road, even though they aren’t necessarily money-makers, writes John Helmer, a journalist based in Russia.

In June, banker Vladimir Antonov became the newest Russian owner of a sports team when he purchased England’s Portsmouth Football Club for an undisclosed sum.

Here’s a look at some of the other Russian owners of athletic franchises around the globe.

Alisher Usmanov

Co-owns: Arsenal FC

Net worth: $17.7 billion

Usmanov, a Uzbeki-born metals magnate, has been a major shareholder in England's Arsenal FC since 2007. His original 15% stake cost him $215 million; he later increased his share to over 23%.

Mikhail Prokhorov

Owns: the New Jersey Nets

Net worth: $13.5 billion

Prokhorov in 2010 picked up an 80% stake in the Nets, as well as 45% of their yet-to-be-built home in Brooklyn.

He notably walked away from a proposed deal to bring Carmelo Anthony to the team in January.

Roman Abramovich

Owns: Chelsea FC

Net worth: $13.4 billion

Abramovich, one of the wealthiest men in Russia, became owner of the famous football team when he purchased the company that controlled the club in 2003.

He's the owner of one of the world's largest yachts; you can rent it for $2 million a week.

Suleyman Kerimov

Owns: Anzhi Makhachkala, a Russian football club

Net worth: $5.5 billion

Kerimov, an investor and politician, recently picked up the Dagestan-based football team and has prepared to spend millions on new players to improve the club's standings.

Len Blavatnik

Owns: Tried to buy West Ham United; owns sports broadcast company Perform Group

Net worth: $10.1 billion

The Russian mogul, who recently bought Warner Music Group, was rumoured to have offered $50 million for a stake in West Ham United last year.

While the deal was never completed, Blavatnik has kept a hand in the sports industry; he has a controlling stake in Perform Group, which broadcasts English soccer, tennis and other sports over the Web, and runs websites for sports teams and leagues.

Leonid Fedun

Owns: Spartak Moscow, a Russian football club

Net worth: $5.5 billion

Fedun, who made his fortune in the oil business, has reportedly poured tens of millions of dollars into Spartak Moscow.

Sergey Galitsky

Founder /President: FC Krasnodar

Net worth: $5.5 billion

Galitsky, who dreamed of a career in soccer as a child and later made his fortune in the grocery store, founded the football team in his hometown of Krasnodar in 2007.

Rinat Akhmetov (Ukraine)

President: Ukraine's FC Shakhtar

Net worth: $5.2 billion

Akhmetov took on the role of president of Ukrainian football club Shakhtar Donetsk, his hometown team, in 1996. The team became the first Ukrainian club to win the UEFA Cup in 2009.

He purchased a $221 million apartment in London's One Hyde Park earlier this year.

Vladimir Antonov

Owns: Portsmouth FC and Lithuanian basketball club Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius

Net worth: $300 million

Antonov, whose holding company also owns controlling interests in the parent company of the high-profile 'Leaders in Football' conference and PowerPlay Golf, picked up the English team this spring for an unknown sum.

Alexandre Gaydamak

Formerly owned: Portsmouth FC

Net worth: $300 million

Alexandre became co-owner of Portsmouth's football club in 2006; he sold the club to Hong Kong-based businessman Balram Chainrai in 2009 after the team suffered significant losses.

Sports teams aren't the only things Russian billionaires own

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