Goga Ashkenazi (born Gaukhar Yerkinovna Berkalieva) is a Kazakh businesswoman and socialite. She is the founder and CEO of MunaiGaz Engineering Group, a Kazakh oil and gas conglomerate. Since 2012, she has been head of the fashion label Vionnet, based in Milan.
Goga Ashkenazi’s Early Life and Education
Gaukhar Yerkinovna Berkalieva was born on 1 February 1980 in Dzhambul (Kazakhstan), later known Zhambyl Oblast. The word Gaukhar means “diamond”. Her father Erkin Berkaliev was an irrigation engineer in Taraz, located in southern Kazakhstan’s remote Zhambyl region. Her mother, Saule, has degrees in both engineering and medicine. She also have a sister Meruert, who is 10 years older to her. Goga’s maternal grandmother was Jewish.
Goga Ashkenazi’s Kazakh grandparents faced hardships during the communist era. Her maternal grandfather was only six years old when the communists executed his entire family, except for his younger sister. He was then forced to walk with a group of gypsies to Turkmenistan, where he was placed in an orphanage.
Goga Ashkenazi’s maternal grandfather was an officer in the Second World War, and was later sent to China and Korea. He eventually became the head of the region where Baikonur Cosmodrome, from which Yuri Gagarin was launched into space, was built. Her other grandfather was one of the first Kazakhs to earn a doctorate in engineering, and eventually became the head of a research institute with a salary higher than that of the General Secretary of the Soviet Union.
Goga Ashkenazi comes from a family of distinguished academics. Her maternal grandfather was a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and became the head of a research institute. His wife was a nuclear physicist and became a university professor. Both of Ashkenazi’s parents have doctorates in the sciences, as does her older sister.
Erkin Berkaliev was identified by the Communist Party and was recruited to Moscow’s Central Committee under Mikhail Gorbachev. Her father became successful. By the age of seven, she was living a privileged life in a luxury apartment and attending one of the best schools in the city.
After communism collapsed , her father bought some factories and moved to Kazakhstan. His political connections led to the purchase of several factories, which produced everything from bricks to cotton very cheaply.
Goga and her older sister Meruert’s parents divorced when she was 13. Their mother, determined to provide them with a bright future, took them to England. Her father Berkaliev remained in Kazakhstan, where he remains an influential political figure in the capital Astana.
Goga Ashkenazi attended Buckswood Grange School in East Sussex and then Stowe School, but was expelled after being caught kissing a boy. She then attended Rugby School, where she earned five A-levels. She went on to study modern history and economics at Somerville College, Oxford, graduating in 2001.
Goga Ashkenazi Marriage With Stefan Ashkenazi
In her early 20s, while working at a private equity firm in London, Goga fell in love with American hotel heir Stefan Ashkenazy and quit her job to live with him in Los Angeles.
At an age of 23, Goga’s new boyfriend was Stefan Ashkenazi ,a former kung fu artist who had dated Angelina Jolie and learned Russian fluently in just three months. Two months after they started dating, he proposed and Goga married him, moving to LA to be with him.
Goga Ashkenazi was married to Stefan Ashkenazy (heir to the L’Ermitage hotel group ), son of a Polish-born American hotelier Severyn Ashkenazy in 2003. They were separated by 2006 and divorced a year later. She divorced him in 2007 after having started work as a personal PR for Timur Kulibayev.
Goga Ashkenazi Extramarital Affair With Timur Kulibayev
In 2005, Goga Worked as a personal PR for Timur Kulibayev. She left her husband Stefan Ashkenazy in 2006 and divorced hom a year later.
She and Kulibayev have two sons: Adam (born : 2007) and Alan, born in 2012.
Adam was born at the Portland Hospital in London on 27 December 2007. Six weeks later Goga and Timur registered the child’s birth at Westminster Council office.
Both Adam and Alan stay in the house in West London Holland Park, London that she bought for 28mln pound sterling. Normally on weekends they meet their mother who currently lives in Milan.
Ashkenazi Initial Career
After leaving Oxford, Ashkenazi worked at investment banking firms, including Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley in London and ABN AMRO in Hong Kong.
Goga Ashkenazi As Glamorous Oil Tycoon
In late 2003, Goga’s father’s old friend told her about a tender that was coming up in Kazakhstan. The friend thought that Goga’s family could help put together the tender because they knew many people in positions of power.
Kazakhstan, which is rich in oil and gas, was a fertile ground for entrepreneurs. With their political connections, Goga and her sister were ideally placed to take advantage of the tender. Goga said that the tender did not require any money upfront, which was one of the best things about it.
Ashkenazi founded the MunaiGaz Engineering Group with her sister, Meruert. The company constructs compressor stations for gas pipelines and tunnelling operations for utility networks, gas turbine and diesel plants.
Goga and her sister tendered for the contract by the government to build an infrastructure. They won it . The government then gave them the money to build the infrastructure.
The contract involved building supply lines and pumping stations. However, it is estimated that she and her sister would have made millions of pounds from the deal. The project was probably worth around £100 million.
She later founded and became director of the MMG Global Consulting Group, which deals with investment in Kazakhstan.
Shortly after launching her business in Kazakhstan she met Timur Kulibayev, the oligarch who now controls the country’s oil industry.
Goga Ashkenazi Become Friends With Wealthy and Famous
Goga Ashkenazi has a wide circle of friends, including celebrities, business people, and socialites. Some of her closest friends include:
While studying history and economics at Somerville College, Oxford , she fell for Dinesh “Dino” Lalvani , the chairman and chief executive officer of Binatone.
Later she dated Italian Formula 1 boss Flavio Briatore and moved onto his yacht for three months after her college. Goga’s relationship with Briatore ended when he found that she was not the daughter of the Kazakh president as he had been led to believe.
Then, aged 23, she met her husband, Stefan Ashkenazi (whose father Severyn founded the L’Ermitage hotel chain).
Around 2005 ,Goga Ashkenazi had an extramarital affair with billionaire Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the Kazakh president, and they have two sons together: Adam, born in 2007, and Alan, born in 2012. Earlier she had started working as personal PR for Timur and later it turned into a relatiohship.
Goga was also good friend of
In 2010, she met Actor Gerard Butler Cannes Film Festival who later was spotted visiting her West London mansion. The actor has a reputation as a womaniser in Hollywood having been linked with Cameron Diaz, Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston. Nothing much came out about them as Goga seemed a bit classier than other women he was hanging around and surely not that rich as her.
Goga Ashkenazi Controversial Friendship with Prince Andrew
In the world of high society and international politics, alliances and friendships often shape the trajectory of individuals’ lives and careers. One such friendship that raised eyebrows and stirred controversy in recent years is that between Goga Ashkenazi and Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
They both met at a 2001 New Year’s Eve party in Phuket, Thailand. Goga is said to be introduced to Prince Andrew by
The origins of Goga Ashkenazi’s friendship with Prince Andrew are rooted in their shared interests and overlapping social circles. Both individuals frequented the upper echelons of British society, with Prince Andrew’s role as a royal and Goga Ashkenazi’s business ventures bringing them into contact. Social events, charity galas, and exclusive parties served as the backdrop for their initial encounters. Over time, the casual acquaintance developed into a deeper connection that would soon become a subject of intrigue and controversy.
Another significant aspect that fueled controversy was the association between Prince Andrew and the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein’s legal troubles and conviction for sex offenses cast a long shadow over anyone connected to him, including Prince Andrew. It was revealed that Prince Andrew had maintained a friendship with Epstein, which prompted further inquiries into his personal and professional relationships. Goga Ashkenazi’s association with both individuals raised eyebrows and intensified the public’s scrutiny.
Prince Andrew sold his marital home of Sunninghill Park in Ascot, Berkshire in September 2007. Andrew got £3 million more than the asking price – of £12 million. It was purchased by Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the former president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. It was later reported that the Duke of York had been acting as a fixer in Kulibayev’s business deals. Here too the common name which cropped up was of Goga Ashkenazi.
Sunninghill Park was demolished in 2015.
Goga And Caroline Stanbury’s Venture, Gift-Library.com
Caroline Stanbury, an English socialite and former girlfriend of Prince Andrew, was married to Turkish-born financier Cem Habib before their divorce in 2019. They have a daughter, Yasmine and twin sons, Zac and Aaron . After working as a stylist and personal shopper for several years, Stanbury founded Gift-Library in 2008.
Goga Ashkenazi joined Gift–Library as partner and Chairwoman in 2010. Goga joined on 30 June 2010 and resigned on 21 November 2012.
In 2015 Gift–Library.com was shut down .Gift Library failed because its major creditor lost faith in its management and pulled the plug on what became clear was a struggling business.
Domain name Gift–Library.com is now directed to Amara.com, a competitor luxury retailer that scooped up gift-library.com when it shut down.
In 2016, Stanbury moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates following a job offer her husband received. In 2019 they both separated.In 2021, she married Spanish footballer Sergio Carrallo.
Goga Ashkenazi Bought French Fashion Label Vionnet in 2012
Vionnet, a once-prestigious French fashion house, was dormant from 1939 to 2006. During this time, a series of investors attempted to revive the brand, moving its headquarters to Milan in the process. The brand was celebrated for its innovative draping techniques and its influence on the development of modern fashion.
Ashkenazi recognized the historical and artistic significance of the brand and saw potential in reviving it. Goga Ashkenazi bought shares of Vionnet in May 2012, and later stepped up her investment by purchasing all remaining shares from past owners Matteo Marzotto and Marni CEO Gianni Castiglioni.
Owner Goga Ashkenazi, a Kazakh designer who bought the iconic French label in 2012, said in a statement released on October 16 , 208 the liquidation will allow the brand to reorganise itself and attract new investors.
In April 2023 , Chimera Abu Dhabi and Haeres Capital announced their joint venture (JV) with the creation of ChimHaeres Investment Holding (ChimHaeres), which recently acquired 100 per cent of the French haute couture label Vionnet.
The new joint venture will be led by CEO Philippe Camperio and a team of industry veterans, including Antonella di Pietro, Alberto Nathanson, Giacomo Santucci, and Jerome Macario.
ChimHaeres Investment Holding (ChimHaeres) acquired French haute couture label Vionnet.
FAQs on Goga Ashkenazi
Q: Who is Goga Ashkenazi?
A: Goga Ashkenazi is a Kazakh-born British socialite, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She is the chairwoman of the fashion house Vionnet and the Global Environmental Co-operation Organisation (GECO). She is also known for her friendship with Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
Q: What is Goga Ashkenazi’s net worth?
A: Goga Ashkenazi’s net worth is estimated to be around £100 million.
Q: How did Goga Ashkenazi make her money?
A: Goga Ashkenazi made her money through a variety of business ventures, including oil and gas, mining, and fashion. She is also a successful investor.
Q: Is Goga Ashkenazi married?
A: Goga Ashkenazi was married to Stefan Ashkenazy (heir to the L’Ermitage hotel group ), son of a Polish-born American hotelier Severyn Ashkenazy in 2003. They were separated by 2006 and divorced a year later. Goga Ashkenazi did not marry again. She has two sons from her extramarital relationship with Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the former president of Kazakhstan.
Q: What is Goga Ashkenazi known for?
A: Goga Ashkenazi is known for her wealth, her social connections, and her business acumen. She is also known for her philanthropy and her work with GECO.
Here are some additional FAQs:
Q: What is Goga Ashkenazi’s educational background?
A: Goga Ashkenazi was born in Kazakhstan and raised in Moscow. She attended boarding school in England and later studied at the London School of Economics.
Q: What languages does Goga Ashkenazi speak?
A: Goga Ashkenazi speaks Kazakh, Russian, English, French, and Italian.
Q: What are Goga Ashkenazi’s hobbies?
A: Goga Ashkenazi enjoys fashion, travel, and spending time with her family and friends.
Q: What are Goga Ashkenazi’s philanthropic interests?
A: Goga Ashkenazi is passionate about environmental protection and education. She is the founder and chairwoman of the Global Environmental Co-operation Organisation (GECO), a non-profit organization that works to promote sustainable development.