- Alisher Usmanov’s Lavish Collection includes his luxurious residences, yachts, and parties.
- Alisher Usmanov, an early Facebook investor and metals magnate, faced U.S., U.K., and EU sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Born in Uzbekistan, he relocated to Tashkent in 2022.
- Usmanov’s primary investment is in Metalloinvest, a major player in the iron ore and steel industry.
- He also holds stakes in companies within the telecom, mining, and media sectors.
- Usmanov initially made his fortune producing plastic bags, a highly sought-after item in the former Soviet Union.
- From 2000 to 2014, he headed Gazprom Investholding, a subsidiary of Gazprom.
- Usmanov, a former fencer, served as the president of the International Fencing Federation until 2022
I am proud that I know Putin and the fact that everybody does not like him is not Putin’s problem. I don’t think the world loved Truman after Nagasaki.Alisher Usmanov
Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov, known as an Uzbek-Russian businessman and oligarch, was born on September 9, 1953. As of 2022, his estimated net worth stood at $19.5 billion, placing him among the world’s 100 wealthiest individuals.
Usmanov’s wealth grew significantly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, primarily through investments in metal and mining operations. He holds a 49% stake in Metalloinvest, a Russian industrial conglomerate that merged the assets of JSC Metalloinvest (Mikhailovsky GOK and Ural Steel) with those of Gazmetall JSC (Lebedinsky GOK and the Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant) in 2006.
In addition to his industrial interests, Usmanov owns the Kommersant publishing house and is a co-owner of MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest mobile telephone operator. He is also involved in Udokan Copper, a project focused on developing one of the world’s largest copper deposits. Usmanov joined forces with Yuri Milner to become the largest investor in Digital Sky Technologies (“DST”), which later changed its name to “Mail.ru Group” on September 16, 2010. He also holds shares in various international technology companies.
Notably, Usmanov served as the president of the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime, the international governing body of the sport of fencing, from 2008 until 2022.
However, in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Usmanov faced sanctions. The European Union imposed a travel ban on him and froze his assets on February 28, 2022. Subsequently, the United States implemented similar sanctions on March 3, 2022, albeit with some exceptions for his companies. Usmanov was officially labeled a “pro-Kremlin oligarch with particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin” in the Official Journal of the European Union. Despite these allegations, Usmanov has refuted them and initiated legal proceedings against the Council in the European Court to challenge the accusations and lift the sanctions. These proceedings are ongoing.
Usmanov’s life has not been without challenges. Alisher Usmanov’s Lavish Collection He spent six years in a Soviet prison during the 1980s on charges of fraud and embezzlement. However, the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan eventually overturned his conviction and restored him in 2000 after finding that the evidence against him was false and that he had not committed a crime.
Early Life and Education
Birth and upbringing in Uzbekistan
Alisher Usmanov was born on September 9, 1953, in Chust, Uzbekistan. Uzbek citizenship is typically acquired through birth within the country’s borders or from one’s parents. Traditional Uzbek society follows a patrilineal organization where kin relationships are defined by gender and birth order among siblings.
Most Uzbek families consist of nuclear units, with parents and grown children living separately and brothers residing apart. In contrast, extended families sharing a large compound are more common in rural areas. In the early 1990s, it was observed that nuclear family units within extended families tend to be large, with 40% of Uzbek families having seven or more children. After marriage, women traditionally move to live with their husband’s family.
In Uzbekistan, life expectancy at birth in 2021 was approximately 73.39 years for women and 68.33 years for men. Uzbek customs and traditions related to childbirth emphasize the importance of family and community. The ancient ritual celebration known as the “Besik Tuyi,” or “cradle ceremony,” commemorates the joyous and significant event of a child’s birth. Another notable ritual is the boys’ circumcision ceremony, called “Sunnat tuyi,” which typically occurs between the ages of three and nine.
Although Uzbekistan has ratified conventions prohibiting child labor, the practice remains prevalent in the country, particularly due to socio-economic challenges. More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, with urban residents being disproportionately affected. In some urban districts, nearly one in two individuals faces poverty. Consequently, the living conditions of children are often dire, making it difficult to fully uphold their rights.
Educational background and career aspirations
Alisher Usmanov’s Educational Journey: Alisher Usmanov pursued his higher education at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and successfully graduated in 1976 with a degree in international law. After completing his studies, he returned to Tashkent and assumed the role of director in the Foreign Department of the Soviet Peace Committee. Subsequently, with the assistance of friends from his university days, he made the decision to relocate to Russia.
Early Business Ventures: Usmanov’s initial business ventures in Russia involved establishing a workshop for the production of plastic bags at the Ramensky Plastic Plant in the Moscow Region, along with engaging in the tobacco supply business. Notably, he earned his first income by translating texts from Arabic. In 2010, Forbes magazine estimated Alisher Usmanov’s wealth at $7.2 billion, ranking him as the 100th richest individual globally and the 14th richest in Russia. In April 2010, The Sunday Times, a British newspaper, recognized Usmanov as one of the top ten wealthiest people in the United Kingdom.
Usmanov’s Business and Philanthropic Roles: Alisher Usmanov is recognized as a significant shareholder (49%) in USM Holdings. Additionally, he previously held the position of President at the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime. Notably, he was an early investor in Facebook. Unfortunately, Usmanov has faced sanctions from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Philanthropic Endeavors: Despite his opulent lifestyle, Alisher Usmanov has been actively involved in philanthropic activities. In 2007, he contributed over $20 million to acquire an art collection that belonged to the late Russian musician Mstislav Rostropovich. Subsequently, he generously donated this collection to the state-owned Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg.
Alisher Usmanov, a prominent Russian businessman, has amassed his wealth through a combination of metal and mining ventures, along with strategic investments. Here, we’ll provide an overview of his early career, key roles in various companies, and significant investments and acquisitions.
Early Career: Born in Uzbekistan in 1953, Usmanov later graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations with a degree in international law. He initiated his entrepreneurial journey in Russia, starting with businesses that included a workshop producing plastic bags and tobacco supplies.
Investing in Facebook: In 2009, Usmanov made a noteworthy move by investing $200 million in Facebook through Mail.ru, securing a 1.96% stake in the company, which at the time was valued at $10 billion.
Roles in various companies: Usmanov’s career included diverse roles:
- He served as the director of the Soviet Peace Committee’s Foreign Department in Tashkent.
- He climbed the corporate ladder to become the CEO of Gazprom Investment Holding, an asset management unit of Gazprom, the world’s largest gas producer and exporter.
- Usmanov is a significant shareholder in Metalloinvest, a leading metallurgical company in Russia.
- He co-owns MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest mobile operator, and Mail.ru, the country’s largest internet portal.
Key Investments and Acquisitions: In 1999, Usmanov, in collaboration with Vasiliy Anisimov, co-founded Metalloinvest to oversee his various acquisitions in the metal industry. This company controls a wide range of Russian mining and metal businesses, including Mikhailovsky, Lebedinsky, Ural Steel, Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant, and Ural Scrap Company.
In 2006, Usmanov expanded his investments by acquiring stakes in Australian mining companies such as Medusa, Aztec Resources, and Mt. Gibson through Gallagher Holdings, now known as USM Holdings.
Usmanov is a significant shareholder in Nautilus Minerals and has also invested in Strike Resources. His influence extended to sports when Metalloinvest sponsored the Russian football team Dinamo Moscow in 2008.
Despite his substantial success in the business world, Usmanov has faced challenges, including sanctions from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Meteoric Rise
- After his release from incarceration, Alisher Usmanov returned to Russia during the era of ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika.’ He embarked on a new venture, establishing a plastic bag manufacturing firm in partnership with a KGB official.
- Usmanov strategically invested in various sectors, including mining, steel, natural gas, timber, and electrometallurgical businesses. He co-founded ‘Metalloinvest,’ a mining and metallurgy enterprise, in collaboration with Vasiliy Anisimov. This served as a front company for managing his interests in the metal sector.
- To oversee his diverse investments in iron, steel, mining, metallurgy, media, online technology, and pharmaceuticals, Usmanov established ‘USM Holdings,’ a trusted company. ‘Metalloinvest’ became the hub for his holdings, encompassing Ural Scrap Company, Ural Steel Mills, Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant, Mikhailovsky GOK, and Lebedinsky GOK.
- Usmanov’s portfolio expanded to include a significant ownership stake in Norilsk Nickel, a global leader in palladium and nickel production, as well as Nautilus Minerals. He also fully owns the Baikal Mining Company, involved in extracting copper from the vast Udokan Mine.
- Beginning in 2006, he ventured into the Australian mining sector, investing in companies like Aztec Resources, Mt. Gibson, and Medusa through ‘USM Holdings.’ Later, he acquired a controlling stake in Strike Resources, an Australian mining conglomerate licensed to mine iron ore in Peru.
- Through his substantial stake in ‘Mail.ru Group,’ formerly known as Digital Sky Technologies, Usmanov made a shrewd move, purchasing a 1.96% stake in Facebook for $200 million in 2009. Subsequently, Mail.ru Group invested in other prominent global internet technology companies and social media platforms, including 360buy, Alibaba, ZocDoc, AirBnB, and Twitter.
- Usmanov’s investments in Facebook and Alibaba proved highly profitable as their stock values soared. He even entered Xiaomi, a lesser-known Chinese smartphone manufacturer, feeling encouraged by his success.
- His ambition knew no bounds, and he contemplated investing a significant portion of his wealth in India’s booming IT sector, the world’s largest software hub at the time.
- With a 56% stake in MegaFon, Russia’s third-largest landline and second-largest mobile telephony company, Usmanov extended his influence. He also served on the board of ‘Gazprom Invest Holdings,’ the holding company for Gazprom, Russia’s largest natural gas extraction and marketing firm.
- During his tenure as the General Director of Gazprom Invest Holdings, he transformed Gazprom into a profitable public enterprise, reclaiming many of its resources and assets. His foray into the media industry reached its peak with the acquisition of ‘Kommersant,’ a national daily newspaper.
- Additionally, Usmanov purchased majority stakes in ‘7TV,’ a sports TV channel, and ‘MUZ-TV,’ a music TV channel, in 2006 and 2007, respectively. He co-owns ‘UTH,’ a media trust company with a 51% stake in Disney Russia and full ownership of U and MUZ-TV channels.
Metalloinvest and Mining Ventures
The Founding of Metalloinvest and its Significance
Metalloinvest: Pioneering Russian Mining and Steel Company
In 1999, Alisher Usmanov and Vasiliy Anisimov founded Metalloinvest Management Company LLC, a Russian company that specializes in mining and metallurgy, particularly steel production. The company’s founding aimed to manage Usmanov’s various acquisitions within the metal industry.
Structure and Operations: Metalloinvest comprises two key divisions:
- The mining division includes Lebedinsky GOK and Mikhailovsky GOK.
- The steel division is responsible for the Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant (OEMK) and Ural Steel.
Global Significance: Metalloinvest has garnered global recognition as a leading producer and supplier of hot briquette iron (HBI) and iron ore products, in addition to being a regional producer of high-quality steel. The company boasts a diverse portfolio of top-tier mining and metallurgical assets across Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
- Metalloinvest is an industry leader in terms of proven iron ore reserves, measured on a JORC-equivalent basis.
- The company exports its products to regions such as Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
- In the “Large Business: Regional Development Leaders” category of the National Rating of the Russian Federation’s Top 1000 Companies, Metalloinvest achieved a top-five ranking, standing out as the leader in the mining and metals sector.
Metalloinvest’s impressive presence and extensive product offerings underscore its standing as a vital player in the global mining and steel industry.
Acquisitions and expansion in the mining industry
The mining industry has undergone significant changes in recent years. Here is an overview of the latest trends and activities in the sector:
- Valuation and Integration Challenges: The mining industry has historically faced difficulties in valuing assets and effectively integrating acquired operations.
- M&A Continues Despite Challenges: Despite the challenges, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the mining and natural resources sectors persisted, even during the pandemic. Rising commodity prices—particularly those for gold and other resources—were a major factor in this.
- Focus on Efficiency and Expansion: In response to the need for increased efficiency and revenue generation, mining companies continue to seek new opportunities for expansion and growth. This drive is expected to keep M&A transactions active.
- Dominance of Critical Minerals: Critical minerals took the spotlight in 2022 as mining companies, both large and small, raced to reshape their portfolios to align with the global transition to clean energy. Joint ventures and transformational deals were common, with governments offering incentives for critical mineral production and processing.
- OEMs Enter the Fray: Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are increasingly making direct investments in mining and processing assets, competing with traditional mining companies for growth opportunities and M&A deals.
- Promising Outlook for 2023: The mining sector closed 2022 with a flurry of M&A activity, and this momentum is expected to continue into 2023. Cash-rich miners are eager to expand rapidly through acquisitions, with joint ventures becoming a popular investment choice.
- The Role of Critical Minerals: The mining industry’s strength is set to persist as the global transition to clean energy drives strong and growing demand for critical minerals such as copper, nickel, lithium, and cobalt.
- Caution in Industrial Metals: While the future looks promising, industrial metals miners may exercise caution in 2023 as economic growth slows. This caution may affect deal activity in this sector, as miners focus on cost control and await potential price adjustments before pursuing acquisitions.
Mail.Ru Group and Technology Investments
Mail.Ru GroInvolvement with Mail.Ru Group (VK) and DSTup and Technology Investments
- VK: Mail.Ru Group owns VK, a Russian social networking site similar to Facebook.
- DST Stake Increase: In 2008, the Russian internet investment fund Digital Sky Technologies (DST) increased its Mail.Ru ownership to 50.55% by acquiring shares from Tiger Global Management and Naspers.
- RDIF Investment: In 2020, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) invested in Mail.Ru during its secondary public offering.
- Technology Investments: Mail.Ru Group has diversified its portfolio by investing in various technology ventures, including:
- Ride-hailing service Gett
- Online education platform Skillbox
- Russian online grocery delivery service Samokat
- Russian e-commerce platform Ozon
- Russian online retailer Wildberries will make a substantial $100 million investment in 2022.
These strategic moves illustrate Mail.Ru Group’s commitment to expanding its presence in the Russian internet market and venturing into emerging technologies and services. By diversifying its investments in online education, ride-hailing, and e-commerce platforms, the company aims to broaden its reach beyond its core social networking and email services.
Investments in social media and technology companies
Mail.Ru Group, a prominent Russian internet company, is actively engaged in various investments within the realm of social media and technology. Here’s a concise overview of their key ventures:
- In 2008, the Russian internet investment fund, Digital Sky Technologies (DST), increased its stake in Mail.Ru to 50.55% by acquiring shares from Tiger Global Management and Naspers.
- The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) participated in Mail.Ru’s secondary public offering and convertible bond offering in 2020.
- Mail.Ru Group has diversified its portfolio by investing in different technology sectors. This includes ventures in the ride-hailing service Gett and the online education platform Skillbox.
- In 2021, Mail.Ru Group invested in the Russian online grocery delivery service Samokat and the e-commerce platform Ozon.
- Notably, Mail.Ru Group announced a substantial $100 million investment in the Russian online retailer Wildberries in 2022.
- The company’s strong interest in gaming is evident through My. Games Venture Capital (MGVC), the investment branch of Mail.Ru Group’s gaming division. In 2021, MGVC announced its pursuit of gaming acquisitions in Russia and Belarus.
- Mail.Ru Group’s portfolio extends to 29 investments, with notable holdings in companies such as Horizons Ventures, Magma Venture Partners, and SOL Ventures.
Highlights of his portfolio investments
Mail.Ru Group is a Russian internet company that offers social networking, email services, and online games. The company has diversified its portfolio through technology investments, including Gett, a ride-hailing service, and Skillbox, an online education platform. In 2021, Mail.Ru Group also invested in Samokat, a Russian online grocery delivery service, and Ozon, a Russian e-commerce platform. In 2022, they announced a $100 million investment in Wildberries, a Russian online retailer. These strategic investments signify the company’s expansion beyond social networking and email services.
Metalloinvest, on the other hand, is a Russian mining and metallurgy company specializing in steel production. They own various Russian mining and metal businesses, such as Mikhailovsky, Lebedinsky, Ural Steel, Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant, and Ural Scrap Company. Alisher Usmanov, who co-founded Metalloinvest in 2008 with Vasiliy Anisimov, acquired stakes in Australian mining companies, including Medusa, Aztec Resources, and Mt. Gibson, through Gallagher Holdings (now known as USM Holdings). Usmanov is also the largest shareholder in Nautilus Minerals. Metalloinvest is a prominent global producer and supplier of HBI and iron ore products, as well as a regional producer of high-quality steel.
Alisher Usmanov’s investments span a wide range of sectors, from steel and iron ore to the Internet and media. He built his wealth through mining and metal operations, as well as strategic investments. The acquisition of Metalloinvest in 2008 allowed him to consolidate his holdings in the metal industry, including the ownership of various Russian mining and metal businesses and international mining company stakes. Usmanov’s diverse portfolio and significant holdings in Nautilus Minerals and other ventures reflect his business acumen and global interests.
Media Holdings and Philanthropy
In 2021, The Sunday Times recognized Alisher Usmanov as the most generous philanthropist on its Rich List. Over the past 20 years, he has donated more than £4.2 billion to charitable causes, both personally and through his businesses, as documented in The Sunday Times Giving List. In 2012, Russian Forbes named Usmanov Philanthropist of the Year.
In 2006, Usmanov established the “Art, Science, and Sport” Charity Fund. This fund collaborates closely with London’s Tate Britain and has undertaken various projects in Russia, including the Turner exhibition in 2009 and the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition in 2013.
Usmanov is actively involved in various social, educational, and cultural organizations. He serves as a trustee for institutions such as the Russian Geographical Society, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the National Research University Higher School of Economics, and the European University at St Petersburg.
In 2015, he made a significant contribution of €1.5 million towards the restoration of Rome’s Basilica Ulpia.
In February 2020, Alisher Usmanov made headlines for acquiring Pierre de Coubertin’s original 1892 Olympic Manifesto for $8.8 million. He then generously donated this historically significant document to the Olympic Museum, making it the world’s most expensive piece of sports memorabilia.
For two consecutive years, 2020 and 2021, Usmanov topped The Sunday Times Rich List for his contributions to the fight against COVID-19. His donations, totaling £134.2 million, supported various initiatives in Russia, Uzbekistan, and Italy.
On September 17, 2007, Usmanov made a remarkable acquisition of the late Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich’s art collection. Valued at more than £20 million, he donated this collection to the Russian state. It is now housed in the Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg.
During the same month, Usmanov acquired the rights to a substantial collection of Soviet cartoons, which had been in the possession of Russian-born actor Oleg Vidov for fifteen years. This acquisition, estimated at $5-10 million, led to the donation of the cartoon collection to a newly established Russian children’s television channel.
Honors and Awards
Alisher Usmanov’s contributions and dedication to various fields have earned him numerous honors and awards. In 2004, he was awarded the Medal of Honor of Russia through presidential decree No. 365.
In 2011, Usmanov received the Order “Dostyk” (Friendship) 2nd degree from the Republic of Kazakhstan. He continued to be recognized for his services to the state, community, and charitable activities. In 2013, he was bestowed with the Order for Service to the Fatherland IV class. The same year, he received a medal ‘For contribution to international cooperation’ from the Foreign Ministry of Russia.
In 2014, Usmanov was honored with the Order of Alexander Nevsky for his community and charitable activities. In 2016, he received The Decoration “For Beneficence” for his substantial contributions to charitable and social activities in Russia. The same year, Usmanov received the Al-Fahr Order for his significant role in the revival of Islam in Russia.
In 2017, Alisher Usmanov was awarded the title of Commander “Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” in recognition of his architectural restoration projects, presented by the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella.
In 2018, he was further recognized with the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland” 3rd class. Additionally, Usmanov was awarded the Order “Dostyk” 1st degree (Kazakhstan) for his substantial contributions to the cultural development of the country and strengthening friendship and cooperation between peoples.
In the same year, he received the Order of El-Yurt Hurmati, “Respected by people and homeland” (Uzbekistan) for his pivotal role in major investment projects in the country, active involvement in the creation of unique spiritual and educational complexes in Uzbekistan, and his contribution to the development of sports and tourism potential in the country.
Promoting Scientific Research
Alisher Usmanov spent $4.8 million to purchase Dr. James Watson’s Nobel Prize Medal in Physiology or Medicine on December 4, 2014, at a Christie’s auction in New York City. Dr. Watson had decided to sell his prize to raise funds for scientific research. After accounting for auction fees, Watson received $4.1 million.
Usmanov, however, demonstrated his commitment to recognizing scientific achievements and the importance of research. He returned the Nobel Prize Medal to Dr. Watson, stating that it was unacceptable for an outstanding scientist to part with a medal that acknowledged his groundbreaking work in cancer research, a cause personally meaningful to Usmanov due to his father’s battle with the illness. His decision ensured that the medal remained with its rightful recipient, contributing to the advancement of scientific research.
Alisher Usmanov’s Impact on the Sports Industry
Alisher Usmanov’s involvement in the sports industry has been diverse, with notable investments and ownership roles. Here are some key highlights:
- Everton Football Club:
- During Farhad Moshiri’s ownership of Everton, Usmanov played a part in the recruitment of Everton managers.
- Usmanov’s company, USM Holdings, initiated a five-year sponsorship of Everton’s training ground, amounting to approximately £12 million annually, starting in 2017. Additionally, they secured a £30 million first-naming rights option for the club’s new stadium.
- MegaFon and Yota:
- Usmanov, as the majority shareholder in MegaFon, and the Russian smartphone company Yota, which is part of the MegaFon group, sponsor Everton Women’s activities.
- International Fencing Federation:
- Usmanov served as the President of the International Fencing Federation until his resignation in 2022.
- Arsenal Football Club:
- In 2007, Usmanov acquired a 14.5% stake in England’s Arsenal Football Club. He later increased his shares in the club in 2011.
- Philanthropy in Sports:
- Usmanov’s philanthropic efforts in sports include donating to the Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg and acquiring a substantial collection of Soviet cartoons, which he subsequently donated to a Russian children’s television channel.
Alisher Usmanov’s contributions to the sports industry encompass a wide range of activities, from club ownership to sponsorship and philanthropy, leaving a lasting impact on various sporting endeavors.
Ownership of Arsenal F.C. and Everton F.C.
As of September 2023, Alisher Usmanov no longer holds ownership in either Arsenal F.C. or Everton F.C. Here’s a brief overview of the current ownership of these football clubs:
- Arsenal F.C.
- Arsenal F.C. is owned by Arsenal Holdings plc, a parent company with a limited number of shares that are rarely traded.
- The club has been under the ownership of Stan Kroenke since 2018, following his acquisition of Alisher Usmanov’s stake in the club.
- Everton F.C.
- Farhad Moshiri previously owned Everton F.C., but he sold all of his shares to the American private investment company 777 Partners in September 2023.
- Before this sale, Usmanov’s company, USM Holdings, had a five-year sponsorship deal for Everton’s training ground and an option for the first naming rights on the club’s new stadium.
While Alisher Usmanov has had involvement in the sports industry, it’s important to note that he does not currently possess ownership in either Arsenal F.C. or Everton F.C.
Presidency in fencing organizations
Alisher Usmanov made significant contributions to the fencing industry during his tenure as President of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) from 2008 to 2021. Here are some key highlights from his presidency:
- Expansion of Member Federations:
- Under Usmanov’s leadership, the FIE witnessed substantial growth, increasing the number of member federations from 130 to 154.
- Olympic Involvement:
- Usmanov played a pivotal role in securing fencing’s continuous inclusion in the Olympic Games, a tradition dating back to the sport’s presence in the Games since 1896.
- Safety and Fairness:
- Usmanov’s presidency introduced new rules and regulations aimed at enhancing the safety of fencers and ensuring fairness in competitive fencing.
- Fostering Fencing in Russia:
- Usmanov actively contributed to the development of fencing in Russia, leading to the country hosting several major fencing events during his presidency.
In 2021, Usmanov decided to step down from his position as FIE President, allowing him to redirect his focus towards other projects.
Online Criticism and Suppression
On September 2, 2007, Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, referenced Alisher Usmanov’s criminal conviction, alleging that Usmanov was not a political prisoner but a criminal who had rightly served six years in jail. He asserted that Gafur Rakhimov, an alleged drug trafficker and Uzbekistani power broker, had a hand in the pardon of Usmanov by Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov. In response to libel threats from Usmanov’s legal team at Schillings, some media outlets issued apologies for publishing these claims. Despite this, Murray continued to assert his allegations.
Later, Murray’s web host reportedly removed his article under pressure from Usmanov’s legal team at the Schillings law firm in London. Following this, Schillings contacted the owners of independent blogs and websites, urging them to delete any references to Murray’s allegations and the reproduction of his blog post.
UK Indymedia reported that it received a takedown notice on September 10, 2007, and again on September 21. On September 20, 2007, Tim Ireland’s weblog, Bloggerheads.com, was taken down for reproducing Murray’s article, inadvertently causing the loss of other blogs owned by MP Boris Johnson and Councilor Bob Piper, neither of which had reposted the article.
In December 2011, during the aftermath of the 2011 Russian protests related to alleged election fraud, the weekly magazine Kommersant Vlast published a controversial issue about Vladimir Putin titled “Victory of United ballot-stuffers.” The issue featured a ballot paper from the parliamentary election with the words “Putin, go **** yourself” written in red ink. The caption humorously labeled it as a “correctly filled-out ballot recognized as invalid.” This publication caused a stir, and Alisher Usmanov, the owner, took action. He dismissed the editor, Maxim Kovalsky, and Andrei Galiyev, the head of the publishing company, citing an “ethical breach” and claiming the issue bordered on “petty hooliganism.”
The controversy led to a resignation when Demyan Kudryavtsev, the head of the Kommersant publishing house, took responsibility. In a blog post, he stated that the magazine’s publication had violated internal procedures, professional journalistic standards, and Russian law.
Nadezhda Azhgihina, the executive secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, expressed shock at the incident, describing it as a “clear example of censorship by the owner.” Sixty journalists from Kommersant signed an open letter to Usmanov, denouncing the dismissal of Maxim Kovalsky. They believed it was an attempt to suppress criticism of Vladimir Putin and felt that presenting the dismissal as a defense of the purity of the Russian language was misleading.
Usmanov responded to the journalists’ concerns, understanding their emotions in support of their sacked colleagues. He emphasized that Kommersant Vlast was a respected, independent socio-political publication. Notably, Mikhail Prokhorov, a presidential candidate in the 2012 elections, offered to buy Kommersant, but Usmanov declined the offer.
Despite sanctions imposed on Alisher Usmanov by the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued General License No. 64 to allow transactions necessary for the operations of the newspaper Kommersant. U.S. officials recognized Kommersant as one of the last independent media outlets in Russia.
In November 2012, The Times, a British newspaper, reported that Alisher Usmanov had engaged a London-based PR firm, RLM Finsbury, to edit his Wikipedia article in English. The edits aimed to remove information related to Usmanov’s criminal convictions and later controversies. This discovery sparked a significant reaction within the UK’s PR community.
The CEO of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations emphasized that PR professionals should refrain from directly editing Wikipedia on behalf of clients or employers. The PR firm admitted to their actions, clarifying that they had acted without their client’s authorization. The removal of information was reportedly connected to the impending stock market listing of MegaFon, a company controlled by Usmanov.
In 2018, four US Senators, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, Lindsey Graham, and Cory Gardner, called on the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Alisher Usmanov. They alleged that Usmanov was involved in corrupt practices and the bribery of Russian government officials.
In response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Union took swift action against Alisher Usmanov. On February 28, 2022, the EU placed him on a sanctions list, which included a European-wide travel ban and the freezing of all his assets. The United States followed suit on March 3, 2022, imposing similar sanctions but with some exceptions for his companies. The British government also joined in the sanctions on the same day.
The European Union’s Official Journal described Alisher Usmanov as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch with exceptionally close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, being one of Putin’s favored oligarchs.” It further stated that Usmanov was considered one of Russia’s influential business figures, tasked with managing financial flows and that their positions closely aligned with the Russian President’s will.
Usmanov vehemently denied these allegations, claiming they were false and defamatory. To challenge the sanctions, he filed a lawsuit against the EU Council, aiming to demonstrate their invalidity and have them lifted. Usmanov argued that his notoriety and wealth, rather than his connections to President Vladimir Putin, had made him a target for sanctions. During an EU court hearing, his legal team contended that he had been unfairly singled out as “prey” because of his public visibility.
Enforcement in Germany
In March 2022, the German federal government established a task force to identify and secure oligarchic funds in Germany. This task force, comprising various ministries and authorities, including the Ministry of Economics and Finance, the financial supervisory authority BaFin, the Federal Criminal Police Office, Customs, and the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), initiated efforts to locate and freeze Alisher Usmanov’s properties and assets. Several of these assets, including multiple villas around Bavarian Tegernsee, were linked to the oligarch. The German Federal Criminal Police Office uncovered 36 offshore companies and 90 suspicious money laundering reports associated with Usmanov.
Usmanov maintained his innocence, asserting that he was exempt from German taxes under the Russia-Germany double taxation agreement since he had paid all his taxes in Russia. He also claimed not to own any real estate in Germany, asserting that all properties had been transferred to irrevocable family trusts long before the imposition of sanctions.
In a significant development on May 12, 2023, the Land Court in Frankfurt am Main invalidated and annulled search orders for properties connected to Usmanov, including villas on Lake Tegernsee, an apartment in the outskirts of Frankfurt, and other German properties, as well as the Dilbar yacht in the port of Bremen. The court deemed the searches illegal, found the money laundering accusations groundless, and identified numerous procedural violations. The judges concluded that the grounds for the searches did not meet the minimum requirements for defining the alleged crime. This legal decision was widely criticized in German media, being referred to as “the investigators’ disgrace.”
Non-Enforcement in Hungary and Uzbekistan
In September 2022, reports indicated that Hungary had requested the removal of EU sanctions against Alisher Usmanov. In November, it was reported that the Uzbek government had lobbied the EU to lift sanctions on Usmanov, claiming that these sanctions hindered his ability to invest in his home country.
Enforcement in Ukraine
In December 2022, a Ukrainian court ordered the seizure of ₴2 billion (US$54 million) worth of Usmanov’s assets, primarily consisting of 160,000 metric tons of Ukrainian iron ore. However, Metalloinvest, in a statement published on December 28, refuted these claims.
The company denied that the assets were Usmanov’s and clarified that the Ukrainian authorities had arrested iron ore materials produced by Metalloinvest’s Russian enterprises intended for export and blocked by Ukrainian authorities in February 2022.
Personal Life and Wealth
Usmanov’s family and personal life
Alisher Usmanov, born in Chust, Uzbek SSR, Russia, in 1953, spent his formative years in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Following in his father’s footsteps, he pursued a career in law, ultimately earning a degree in international law from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1976.
In 1992, Usmanov married Irina Viner, a prominent Jewish gymnast renowned for her training of numerous Russian Olympians. Although the couple did not have children together, Irina’s son from a previous marriage, Anton Viner, became Usmanov’s stepson. Anton Viner co-founded a chain of restaurants and tanning parlors and led a development company known as Khimki Group.
Alisher Usmanov’s younger brother is named Bakhodir Usmanov. As Usmanov did not have biological children, his nephew, Babur Usmanov, was considered a potential successor to his extensive business empire. However, tragically, Babur Usmanov passed away in a car accident in March 2013.
Usmanov has a strong commitment to philanthropy, supporting various educational, artistic, sports, and cultural initiatives in Russia, Kazakhstan, and beyond. In fact, in 2010, Bloomberg recognized Alisher Usmanov as the second-largest philanthropic donor in Russia. He has also been honored for his public service, including receiving the Medal of Honor in 2004 through a presidential decree.
A former saber fencer for the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, Usmanov maintains his involvement in the sport by serving as the head of the International Fencing Federation. Additionally, he acquired a 14.5-percent stake in England’s Arsenal Football Club in 2007 and increased his ownership in 2011.
Under his company, USM Holdings, Usmanov initiated a five-year sponsorship of Everton’s training ground, valued at approximately £12 million annually, in 2017. His company also secured a £30 million naming rights option for the club’s new stadium. Furthermore, MegaFon, in which Usmanov is the majority shareholder, and the Russian smartphone company Yota, a part of the MegaFon group, sponsor Everton Women.
Assessment of Alisher Usmanov’s Lavish Collection
Alisher Usmanov, a prominent figure in the business world, boasts an estimated net worth ranging from $14.5 billion to $19.5 billion. He is renowned for his role as a billionaire businessman and oligarch. Recent revelations from leaked documents scrutinized by The Guardian have uncovered substantial holdings in secret Swiss accounts attributed to his family.
According to the Russian Asset Tracker, Alisher Usmanov’s Lavish Collection in a number of nations, including Italy, Germany, and Latvia. His interests extend beyond financial endeavors, as he has made significant contributions to philanthropic causes spanning education, arts, sports, and culture, impacting regions like Russia and Kazakhstan.
Usmanov’s purchase of a $20 million art collection that belonged to the late Russian musician Mstislav Rostropovich is an example of his philanthropic spirit. This exceptional collection was subsequently donated to the state-owned Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg. Furthermore, he invested between $5 million and $10 million in the procurement of an extensive array of Soviet cartoons, previously owned by a U.S.-based individual. These cherished cartoons were then gifted to a Russian children’s television channel.
Alisher Usmanov’s Lavish Collection’s influence resonates not only in the business world but also through his generosity and contributions to various cultural and social endeavors.
Alisher Usmanov’s Net Worth
As of 2022, Alisher Usmanov’s estimated net worth stands at $19.5 billion. According to information provided by his representatives and local media, the majority of his wealth is categorized as “cash and other assets.”
According to Bloomberg’s estimations, Alisher Usmanov’s Lavish Collection accrued approximately $7 billion through share transactions involving Farhad Moshiri and Vladimir Skoch, who is the father of his business partner, Andrey Skoch. These transactions took place in 2012 and 2014.
As of November 2021, Usmanov holds a 49% stake in Metalloinvest, which is recognized as the largest iron ore producer in Russia, as per the information available on the company’s website.
Additionally, he is credited with owning a 39% share in the mobile phone business Megafon Net Worth. Usmanov’s ownership is channeled through his 49% stake in USM, an investment firm based in Russia. According to the Megafon website, USM, both directly and indirectly, oversees all aspects of Megafon. It’s worth noting that a portion of Megafon, specifically 20%, is being transferred to Usmanov’s business associates, Ivan Streshinsky and Anton Cherepennikov, according to a report from the Interfax news agency dated April 30, 2020. Consequently, in this report, USM is recognized as the owner of 80% of the company.
It’s important to mention that the details of USM’s investments in the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, the taxi booking service Didi Kuaidi, the Indian e-commerce company Flipkart, and the taxi booking service Ola Cabs are not included in this research due to undisclosed ownership.
Furthermore, it’s noteworthy that in 2022, the European Union imposed sanctions on Usmanov in response to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.
Luxury Properties of Alisher Usmanov
Alisher Usmanov’s opulent residence is situated in London, England. According to Loveproperty.com, his British properties feature a lavish 5,381-square-foot apartment. The Russian Asset Tracker has revealed that Usmanov owns opulent real estate in a number of nations, including Italy, Germany, and Latvia.
Beyond his real estate ventures, Usmanov is renowned for his philanthropic efforts spanning education, arts, sports, and cultural initiatives in regions such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and beyond.
Alisher Usmanov owns a range of prestigious properties across the globe. Here are some of his noteworthy holdings:
- Sutton Place Estate in Surrey, England:
- A 16th-century estate, purchased by Usmanov for £34 million in 2008.
- Currently frozen due to sanctions against Usmanov
- Beechwood House Mansion in London, England
- A Grade II-listed Regency property in the London suburb of Highgate
- Acquired by Usmanov for £48 million in 2008.
- Also subject to sanctions against Usmanov.
- Luxury Properties in Various Countries:
- Usmanov owns luxury residences in multiple countries, including a villa on the Italian island of Sardinia.
- Moscow Property:
- A significant 12-hectare (30-acre) property in Moscow, his birthplace and hometown.
- USM Holdings:
- A holding structure was utilized by Usmanov for his diversified business interests in telecommunications, media, and mining.
- A Russian mining and metallurgy company founded and owned by Usmanov
- Private Airbus A340-300 Jet:
- Usmanov’s private jet is valued at $350 million.
- Airbus H175 Helicopter:
- A helicopter owned by Usmanov has a value of $17 million.
- Dilbar Yacht:
- A remarkable 512-foot, $600 million private yacht owned by Usmanov
- Additionally, he holds a concession for mooring the vessel in the Barcelona port until 2036, estimated to be worth approximately $20 million.
Aircraft and Helicopters of Alisher Usmanov
Alisher Usmanov possesses a range of aircraft and helicopters. Below, you’ll find details about these assets:
- M-IABU, Airbus A340-300:
- This is a private jet in Usmanov’s ownership, valued at $350 million.
- The aircraft is registered on the Isle of Man.
- M-DLBR, Airbus H175 Helicopter:
- Usmanov also owns an Airbus H175 helicopter, which has an estimated value of $17 million.
- Like his jet, this helicopter is registered on the Isle of Man.
It’s worth noting that in 2022, French authorities seized two helicopters associated with Usmanov. These helicopters were held under the ownership of Margaux Aviation Limited, a company linked to Usmanov.
Yacht and Superyacht
Alisher Usmanov is the owner of the magnificent superyacht known as Dilbar, which stands as one of the world’s largest and most expensive yachts. Below, you’ll find key details about Dilbar:
- Dilbar is a colossal 157-meter (512-foot) superyacht meticulously crafted by the renowned German shipyard Lurssen.
- Usmanov took possession of this luxurious vessel in May 2016, and it boasts an estimated value of approximately $800 million.
- The yacht takes its name from Usmanov’s beloved mother.
- Dilbar can comfortably accommodate 36 guests across 18 lavish cabins, and it has a dedicated crew of 84 members residing in 40 cabins.
- Notable features include two helipads, strategically positioned near the bow and on the top deck flybridge towards the aft.
- Dilbar houses one of the largest indoor swimming pools ever to grace a private yacht, alongside a fully-equipped gym, sauna, and spa.
- To cater to various needs, Dilbar is equipped with several tenders, including a limo tender for convenient passenger transfers to and from the shore.
- The yacht boasts an impressive fuel capacity of approximately 1,000,049 liters, which translates to about 220,000 gallons.
- In April 2022, German authorities seized Dilbar after confirming its ties to Alisher Usmanov, who faced sanctions from the U.S., United Kingdom, European Union, and Switzerland in March 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Currently, Dilbar is under the ownership of Usmanov’s sister, Gulbakhor Ismailova, who is also subject to Western sanctions.
The Oligarch Who Backs Putin
- Close ties to Putin:
- Usmanov is often noted as one of Putin’s favored oligarchs.
- Loyal Supporter Since the Early 2000s:
- Usmanov first crossed paths with Putin in the early 2000s and has remained a staunch supporter of the Russian president ever since.
- Family Connections:
- Usmanov’s wife, Irina Viner, has a close relationship with Putin and is known for introducing him to former rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva.
- VK Acquisition and State Influence:
- Usmanov’s holding company acquired VK, Russia’s largest social network. Once an independent platform, VK is now associated with censorship and cooperation with Russia’s security service, the FSB.
- Awarded the Medal of Service to the Fatherland:
- In 2018, Putin honored Usmanov with the Medal of Service to the Fatherland.
- Controversies and Sanctions:
- Usmanov has faced various controversies, including allegations of corruption and money laundering. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, several countries imposed sanctions on him.
- Usmanov’s assets were subsequently frozen, and the European Union blacklisted him as a result.
- Usmanov’s Perspective:
- Usmanov has asserted that his fame and wealth, rather than his connections to Putin, have made him a target for sanctions.
Alisher Usmanov, a prominent Uzbek-Russian businessman and oligarch, born on September 9, 1953, is a figure of great financial influence. As of 2022, his estimated net worth stood at $19.5 billion, securing his place among the world’s top 100 wealthiest individuals. His path to wealth began with investments in metal and mining operations, most notably a 49% stake in Metalloinvest, a Russian industrial conglomerate formed through a merger in 2006.
Beyond his industrial ventures, Usmanov extended his interests to various sectors, including owning the Kommersant publishing house and co-owning MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest mobile telephone operator. He also ventured into Udokan Copper, one of the world’s largest copper deposit development projects, and invested in international technology companies, such as Digital Sky Technologies (later renamed Mail.ru Group).
Usmanov’s influence transcended business into sports, where he served as the president of the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime, the international governing body of fencing, from 2008 until 2022.