Overview of Leonid Mikhelson
Leonid Mikhelson, a Russian-Israeli billionaire, serves as the CEO, chairman, and major shareholder of the Russian gas giant Novatek. Born in Kaspiisk in 1955, he embarked on his career as a foreman after graduating from the Kuybyshev Engineering and Construction Institute in 1977. These Leonid Mikhelson assets, coupled with his philanthropic ventures, showcase the diverse facets of his influence and affluence. By 1985, Mikhelson had risen to the role of chief engineer at Ryazantruboprovodstroy, a gas pipeline construction company privatized in the post-Soviet era and later renamed Nova. Two years later, he assumed leadership of the trust.
Mikhelson’s opulent lifestyle is reflected in his possession of a superyacht, private jets, and presumably, luxury real estate holdings.
Mikhelson, among the Russian “oligarchs” impacted by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) signed in 2017 by President Donald Trump, faced further sanctions from the UK government in 2022 due to the Russo-Ukrainian War.
Beyond his business pursuits, Mikhelson channels a portion of his wealth into promoting Russian contemporary art globally through the V-A-C Foundation, founded in 2009. His $200 million art collection attests to his significant presence in the art world. He actively contributed to the field by serving on the board of trustees at New York’s New Museum from 2013 to 2017 and sponsoring exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and London’s Tate Modern.
Diverse Portfolio of Leonid Mikhelson Assets
Novatek and Holdings
Leonid Mikhelson holds key positions as the CEO, chairman, and major shareholder of Novatek, Russia’s leading private natural gas provider. Novatek, a non-state-owned company, accounts for approximately 12% of Russia’s gas production. Mikhelson, with a noteworthy 25% ownership in the publicly traded Novatek, plays a pivotal role in the country’s energy landscape.
Beyond his influence at Novatek, Mikhelson is also a major stakeholder, holding 30.6%, in the privately-owned petrochemical producer, Sibur. This diversification adds to his prominence in the energy and petrochemical sectors, contributing significantly to his considerable wealth.
Mikhelson’s stature in these industries is marked not only by his executive roles but also by the substantial holdings he maintains in these key companies, underlining his impact on Russia’s energy and petrochemical landscape.
The PACIFIC yacht, an 85-meter (280 ft) luxury vessel crafted by the Lurssen Shipyard and envisioned by German Frers, was delivered in 2010. Boasting a striking design, it includes features like an elevator, pool, and a smaller speedboat.
This opulent yacht, owned by Russian billionaire Leonid Mikhelson, who serves as the CEO of Novatek, the largest privately-owned natural gas provider in Russia, offers more than its aesthetic appeal. With the capacity to house two helicopters, accommodate 12 guests, and support a crew of 28, it epitomizes extravagance.
However, in June 2022, the PACIFIC yacht faced sanctions from the UK and Canada. During this period, its location remained undisclosed for nearly two weeks. The yacht had been anchored in various ports and bays in Costa Rica since late January before cruising in the Caribbean Sea northeast of Colon, eventually ceasing its location broadcast on May 8. Subsequently, it found refuge in the safe waters of Turkey’s Mersin port.
As one of the luxury assets within Leonid Mikhelson’s portfolio, the PACIFIC yacht provides a glimpse into his affluent lifestyle and a profound appreciation for life’s finer pleasures.
Real Estate Holdings
While detailed information about Leonid Mikhelson’s real estate holdings is not readily available it’s reasonable to assume that, as a billionaire, he possesses luxury properties worldwide. According to Forbes, Mikhelson is known to own opulent residences in Lake Tegernsee, Germany; Lausanne, Switzerland; Monaco; and Arzachena, Sardinia.
Reports also indicate ownership of a Moscow apartment and an exclusive compound outside the city, where homes carry an average price tag of $1 million. Nevertheless, the specific details of his real estate portfolio remain elusive, reflecting the common trend among billionaires who tend to keep such holdings private.
Passion for Art: V-A-C Foundation and Art Collection
Leonid Mikhelson’s love for art spurred the creation of the V-A-C Foundation in 2009, a global non-profit organization dedicated to championing contemporary art projects from Russia and the former Soviet Union. The foundation collaborates with artists to explore new cultural territories, breaking down traditional boundaries and challenging expert hierarchies.
Key facets of the V-A-C Foundation include:
- Moscow Venue:
- Renzo Piano, the renowned Italian architect, was commissioned in 2015 to design the foundation’s Moscow venue, GES-2.
- Venetian Headquarters:
- In 2017, the V-A-C Foundation unveiled its Venetian headquarters, Zattere, housed in a beautifully renovated historic palazzo overlooking the Canale della Giudecca. This venue hosts exhibitions, events, and residencies.
- The foundation has forged partnerships with esteemed cultural institutions worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp. Notably, it co-produced the New Museum’s 2012 exhibition, “Ostalgia,” focusing on Eastern European contemporary art.
- Featured Artists:
- The V-A-C Foundation has curated exhibitions featuring a diverse array of Russian and international contemporary artists. Notable names include Anatoly Osmolovsky, Arseny Zhilyaev, Sergey Sapozhnikov, Mark Dion, Paweł Althamer, Mike Nelson, Fiona Banner, James Richards, Lynette Yiadom-Boayke, and Tino Sehgal.
- Funding Initiatives:
- Mikhelson’s philanthropy extends to funding projects by other artists. Notable examples include supporting Ilya and Emilia Kabokov’s 2014 installation at the Grand Palais in Paris and their 2017 exhibition at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.
The V-A-C Foundation exemplifies Mikhelson’s steadfast commitment to promoting contemporary art and fostering global cultural exchange. It underscores his dedication to elevating Russian contemporary art onto the international stage.
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