Russian Oligarchs

Mikhail Kusnirovich: The Russian Billionaire and Bosco di Ciliegi Founder

Early Life and Education

Mikhail Kusnirovich, born on October 3, 1966, in Moscow, comes from a Jewish family of intellectuals. His father, Ernest, worked as a civil engineer, while his mother, Edith, was a chemist. Growing up in the tumultuous times of post-war Moscow, Mikhail experienced a childhood marked by affection and care, yet not without challenges.

School Years and a Passion for the Arts

Mikhail attended Moscow School No. 890, displaying leadership qualities and active involvement in extracurricular activities. Despite pressure to transfer to a mathematics school, he remained steadfast in his choices. Notably, after school, Mikhail spent three years working as a janitor at the Bolshoi Theater, a decision influenced by his desire to take his then-girlfriend, and now beloved wife, to the theatre regularly.

University and Career Beginnings

Life of Kusnirovich
Life of Kusnirovich

In 1984, Mikhail enrolled at the Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology, where he pursued a degree in chemical engineering technology. While at the institute, he demonstrated leadership in the Komsomol cell but showed lukewarm interest in his studies, particularly due to his reluctance to work with pesticides and herbicides.

An interesting episode occurred when filling out his passport, navigating the complexities of his parents’ Jewish heritage and his father’s marked nationality as “Russian.”

Entrepreneurial Ventures

In the early ’90s, Mikhail ventured into business, co-founding the “Moscow Trading House East and West” with classmates. This marked the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey. The turning point came in 1991 when he met Serilio Montanari, the president of an Italian men’s clothing company, leading to Mikhail’s first contract and the establishment of the Bosco di Ciliegi company.

Overview of Bosco di Ciliegi company

Logo of Bosco di Ciliegi Family
Logo of Bosco di Ciliegi Family

Bosco di Ciliegi is a Russian company established in 1991, running over 100 retail stores in Russia that specialize in clothing, accessories, cosmetics, perfumes, jewellery, and watches. They carry luxury brands like Max Mara, Nina Ricci, and Kenzo. Apart from retail, the company is involved in dental clinics and restaurants. Bosco di Ciliegi is a major partner in Olympic events and has a notable presence in historic shopping centres across Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Yekaterinburg, and Milan.

Expansion and International Recognition

By 1993, Mikhail owned 50% of Bosco di Ciliegi, and the company expanded globally, with stores in Italy, Ukraine, and other countries. In 2001, he initiated the annual Chereshnevy Les Festival, showcasing various art forms. Simultaneously, Bosco di Ciliegi became the main supplier of equipment for the Russian Olympic team from 2001 to 2014.

In recognition of his contributions, Mikhail received awards from both Russian and Italian authorities, including the Order of Merit for Italy in 2009. His philanthropic endeavours included organizing events commemorating the 60th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.

Major Stakes in Shopping Centres

Pictures from Bosco di Ciliegi Company
Pictures from Bosco di Ciliegi Company

Mikhail Kusnirovich is the founder and president of Bosco di Ciliegi, a leading multi-brand luxury retail chain in Russia. The chain, with branches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, and Novosibirsk, specializes in men’s, women’s, children’s, jewellery, and shoes. Bosco di Ciliegi also manages local stores and marketing campaigns for renowned brands like Max Mara, Moschino, Alberta Ferretti, Ermenegildo Zegna, R.E.D. Valentino and Kenzo.

Kusnirovich, through the Bosco group, has obtained a majority stake in key Moscow shopping centres, including GUM on Red Square, Petrovsky Passage shopping arcade, and the Vesna shopping centre in Novy Abert. Notably, his company played a significant role in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games by signing a $100 million agreement to be the official clothing supplier for the event. Additionally, Kusnirovich has collaborated with the prestigious Bolshoi ballet.

GUM and Continued Success

In 2004, Bosco di Ciliegi expanded to GUM, securing a lease until 2059. Awards and accolades continued, including a Certificate of Honor from the Russian President in 2005. In 2017, Bosco di Ciliegi ended its partnership with the Russian national team.

Expansion of Bosco di Ciliegi to GUM

Bosco di Ciliegi, the owner of the GUM department store in Moscow’s Red Square, expanded its business by opening stores in various cities across Russia and internationally. Here are some key details about the expansion:

City Expansion in 2013:

  • Bosco di Ciliegi plans to add stores in four cities outside of Moscow in 2013. These cities include St. Petersburg, Sochi, Yekaterinburg, and other cities.

Sales Growth Expectations for 2007:

  • The company anticipated a 45% increase in sales at its GUM department store in 2007.

Global Expansion Plans:

  • Bosco di Ciliegi is aiming to open 8–10 shops worldwide over the next two years. Target cities for international expansion include Paris and Shanghai. The expansion was planned ahead of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Business Focus:

  • The company operates a chain of retail stores specializing in clothing and accessories. Their product range includes a wide variety of women’s and men’s attire.

In summary, Bosco di Ciliegi strategically expanded its presence both within Russia and internationally, with a focus on key cities and a diverse range of clothing and accessories in its retail stores.

Public Engagement and Political Involvement

Mikhail Kusnirovich‘s influence extended beyond business. In 2013, he became vice-chairman of the Moscow Public Chamber, and in 2018, he served as a proxy for Vladimir Putin in the Russian presidential elections.

Details of Moscow Public Chamber

The Public Chamber of Moscow, also known as the Civic Chamber, serves as a consultative body in civil society, analyzing and overseeing the activities of the Russian government and other governmental entities. Its role includes facilitating citizen-state interaction, safeguarding citizens’ rights, and exercising public control over authorities.

Comprising notable individuals from various sectors, including government representatives and members of non-profit organizations, the Chamber operates through committees and working groups. Mikhail Kusnirovich, a Russian entrepreneur, has been Deputy Chairman since April 2013. The Chamber was elected for a two-year term.

Personal Life and Philanthropy

Glimpses from personal life
Glimpses from personal life

Mikhail Kusnirovich is a devoted husband to Ekaterina Moiseeva, whom he has known since school. Their union has blessed them with two sons, Ilya and Mark. The family shares a love of holidays, often spending them at their private villa in Italy.

Current Endeavors and Recognition

In 2019, Mikhail, still brimming with energy, joined the Public Chamber of Moscow. One of his initiatives includes transforming GUM into an art venue, hosting GUM-Red-Line festivals and showcasing contemporary artists’ paintings.

Wealth and Real Estate

Wealth accumulation
Wealth accumulation

As a regular participant in Forbes’ “200 richest businessmen in Russia,” Mikhail’s wealth is primarily tied to his controlling stake in Bosco di Ciliegi and shares in GUM. He owns luxury real estate on the Italian coast, including a fashionable villa in Forte dei Marmi.

Mikhail Kusnirovich’s Net Worth

Mikhail Kusnirovich is estimated to have a net worth between $500 million and $700 million. His wealth comes from overseeing over 200 boutiques and managing Moscow GUM. Kusnirovich is recognized for promoting the Russian brand, notably through his company’s collaboration with the Russian Olympic Committee.

Controversies and Scandal

Bosco’s Unethical Business Practices

  • Bosco secured the contract for supplying uniforms to Russian Olympians in 2002 but faced criticism for producing subpar and uncomfortable clothing.
  • Kusnirovich and his team, using their official sponsor status, exerted influence over the daily routines and training schedules of Russian athletes.
  • The contract with the International Olympic Committee ended in 2017, and Bosco retaliated by forbidding the use of its logo after the Russian team’s removal due to a doping scandal.

GUM Trading House Lease Scandal

  • Kusnirovich, through GUM JSC, controls the Upper Trading Rows building on Red Square, leased for 49 years without a tender in 2014.
  • The lease payment of around 301 million rubles in 2014 and 298 million in 2015 was significantly below market rates.
  • The Federal Property Management Agency compelled Kusnirovich to pay more, but the actual market price remains undisclosed.
  • The report indicates a cost of 1 billion 266 million rubles in 2016 for a space of about 75 thousand square meters, with a suspiciously low rental rate compared to similar properties in Moscow.

Financial Irregularities and Tax Evasion

  • GUM’s sublease income is reported at 4 billion rubles, with a net profit of 1.1 billion rubles. However, there are suspicions of significant underreporting to evade taxes.
  • Kusnirovich not only charges a fixed lease but also a percentage of turnover from clients, potentially resulting in an annual tax loss of three billion rubles for the state.

Ownership Structure and Political Connections

  • Kusnirovich controls GUM JSC through East and West Group, co-founded with the British company Findome Holding Ltd.
  • The board of directors includes individuals with political ties, such as Kremlin political strategist Andrei Gnatyuk.
  • The director of the company, Georgios Nicolau, is a citizen of Cyprus, and the headquarters are in an empty office in central London.

Summary

Mikhail Kusnirovich, born in 1966 in Moscow to a Jewish family, is a prominent Russian entrepreneur and president of Bosco di Ciliegi. Despite studying chemical engineering, his passion for the arts led him to establish the luxury retail chain in 1991. Over the years, Bosco di Ciliegi expanded globally, owning over 100 stores and becoming a major player in Olympic events.

Kusnirovich’s influence extends to key Moscow shopping centres, including GUM, where his company secured a lease until 2059. Beyond business, he engaged in public service, serving as vice-chairman of the Moscow Public Chamber and a proxy for Vladimir Putin in the 2018 presidential elections. A devoted family man, Kusnirovich is known for his philanthropy, art initiatives, and a net worth estimated between $500 million and $700 million.

Alexander Harris

Alexander Harris began his career as a journalist. He is one of the founders of the " Russian Oligarchs Tracker Unit ".

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