Early Life and Education
Aras Agalarov, born on November 8, 1955, in Baku, Azerbaijan, started his journey as a self-made billionaire in the world of business and real estate. He graduated from the Azerbaijan Polytechnic Institute in 1977 with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts/Science, majoring in computer engineering. During his time at the institute, he was an active member of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan and the Baku City Committee.
Moving to Moscow and Business Ventures
Recognizing the potential in the changing landscape of post-Soviet Russia, Aras Agalarov moved his family to Moscow. In 1989, he founded the joint Soviet-American company Crocus International, initially focusing on trade fairs. His business acumen quickly led him into property development, where he built the Crocus City Mall, the largest shopping centre in Moscow. This marked the beginning of his ascent as one of Russia’s real estate elite.
The success of Crocus International paved the way for the development of the Crocus Expo, the largest trade centre in Russia, and a luxury housing development. Aras Agalarov‘s ventures expanded into various sectors, including retail, banking (Crocus Bank), insurance (Crocus Insurance), and logistics (Crocus Logistics).
Notable Construction Projects
Aras Agalarov and Crocus Group have been involved in several significant construction projects. The Manhattan Mixed-Use Residential-Commercial complex, featuring 14 towers of luxury accommodation and retail-commercial space, is among its ongoing projects. Vegas City Hall, a concert venue, the Oceanarium in Moscow, and the Vegas chain of retail entertainment venues and stores are also part of their diverse portfolio.
In 2015, Crocus Group signed a lucrative deal worth $610 million to construct the initial phase of the new Central Ring Highway (TsKAD) encircling Moscow. Additionally, the group served as the general contractor for the FIFA 2018 stadiums in Kaliningrad and Rostov-on-Don.
Miss Universe 2013 and the Trump Connection
One of the notable events of Aras Agalarov‘s life was the hosting of the Miss Universe 2013 pageant at Crocus City Hall. The event brought him into direct contact with the Trump family. Donald Trump, the owner of the beauty pageant, struck up a relationship with Agalarov, laying the groundwork for potential future collaborations.
The Agalarovs, Aras, and his son Emin, met Trump in Las Vegas in 2013, where a deal was sealed to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow for $20 million. The collaboration went beyond the pageant, with talks on a joint construction project with Trump Tower Moscow.
Political Connections and Alleged Involvement
Aras Agalarov, while not a member of Putin’s inner circle, has been described as a Russian oligarch. His proximity to power in Russia follows the model of an “adhocracy,” where personal contacts matter more than formal titles.
The Trump-Russia scandal brought him into an unwanted spotlight. Emails released by Donald Trump Jr. suggested that Aras Agalarov might have been a conduit for Russian efforts to support the Trump campaign. The emails indicated that Agalarov had received “high-level and sensitive information” from Russia’s top prosecutor, intending to pass it on to the Trump campaign.
Personal Life and Family
Aras Agalarov is married to Irina Agalarova, and together they have two children. His son, Emin Agalarov, not only assists in the family business but also has a career as a pop singer. Emin, a vice president of Crocus Group, gained international attention, especially with his involvement in the Trump-Russia controversy.
Emin, formerly married to Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has twin grandsons from his previous marriage. The Agalarov family, despite their success, faced personal challenges and public scrutiny due to their connections and the controversies surrounding the Trump campaign.
Recent Developments and Controversies
As of June 2017, Aras Agalarov‘s estimated net worth was $1.91 billion, primarily derived from his real estate ventures. His involvement in various state-funded projects, including the construction of stadiums and the Far Eastern Federal University campus, has drawn attention, with some suggesting preferential treatment in government contracts.
The Trump Tower Moscow project, although never materializing, remains a notable point of discussion in the context of the Trump-Russia investigation. Aras Agalarov‘s denial of knowing Donald Trump Jr. and publicist Rob Goldstone, involved in the controversial email exchange, contrasts with evidence suggesting their connections, as seen in a video from a dinner in Las Vegas in 2013.
Net worth of Aras Agalarov
As of 2023, Aras Agalarov is estimated to have a net worth ranging between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. Widely recognized in the Russian fashion and retail sector, he has earned a reputation for his entrepreneurial prowess and sharp business acumen.
A significant portion of Agalarov’s wealth is attributed to his ventures in real estate, solidifying his status as one of the foremost and most influential developers in Russia. His success underscores not only his financial achievements but also his enduring impact on the country’s real estate landscape.
|Net Worth (in billions)
Aras Agalarov, closely linked with Putin’s inner circle, has been actively involved in government contracts. The name is implicated in alleged efforts by the Russian leadership to hack the servers of the US Democratic Party, aiming to influence American policy in favour of the Kremlin. There are suspicions of connections to criminal activities, nepotism, unlawful land acquisition, and attempts to interfere in the US presidential elections.
Aras Agalarov‘s life journey reflects the trajectory of a self-made business tycoon in post-Soviet Russia. From humble beginnings to becoming a billionaire real estate developer, Agalarov’s career has been marked by successes in retail, construction, and entertainment. However, his connection to the Trump family has brought both fame and notoriety, making him a central figure in the complex web of Russian influence in international politics. The controversies surrounding the Trump-Russia scandal continue to cast a shadow over Aras Agalarov‘s otherwise illustrious career, raising questions about the intersection of business, politics, and personal relationships at the highest echelons of power.